I had just gotten back from the hospital. It was the first time ever being in the hospital, period, and in a foreign country thousands of miles away from my friends and family. I hadn’t even had time to form a relationship with my host family because I had only been at my new host family’s house for 2 days before dysentery sent me right back to Bandung. But, I had already made a friend and he was there waiting for me when I got back.
I first met Harry the day before I left for the hospital. I was in the living room getting to know my host sister, Dian, and Harry walked right in and meowed at me. I looked down at him and his big green eyes and I reached down to pat him on the head. He looked friendly enough; unlike most stray cats here in Indonesia. Before I knew it, he was on my lap purring.
I thought he would have forgotten about me, or would have disappeared. Perhaps he was a fluke encounter, and has since gone on wandering through the desa. That first morning back, I didn’t have much spirit. After breakfast, I went outside to sit on the back porch. As I was looking at my new surroundings and thinking “what the hell am I doing here?”, I heard a familiar meow. Across the courtyard was Harry, sitting in the sun. His emerald eyes were glistening in the sun. I motioned for him to come this way and he pranced across over to the porch. I named him Harry that afternoon. I named him Harry for no particular reason. It just suited him.
Harry mostly did his own thing, but he was around in the mornings, in our courtyard, chilling in the sun. He was around at night too when I didn’t want my sate or chicken because I was just too full. He was around to meet my friends and entertain the kids who were excited to call him Harry; The bule’s cat with a name. He was around to hang out with me and Lala and my ibu; although he knew he was not supposed to be around in the house. He was around for my bapak to talk to, or anyone else who wanted to talk to him. He was around to keep Pak Handi company when he taught his LES or worked for hours in his office, sometimes following him home. He was around when I was outside alone, thinking about the people I left at home, the decisions I have made, the things I missed, and the people who are not around anymore.
Harry was outside waiting on our back porch tonight. At first I did not recognize him. I saw this cat, who resembled Harry, weezing and trembling on the cement against the wall. As I got closer, I saw it was Harry. He was badly wounded. A scratch on his side, and I believe internal injuries as well. I didn’t know what to do. I put my plate down ( I was outside clearing it, I had even saved some sate for Harry unbeknownst of what I was to find ) and went to get the medical kit. After walking around in circles, and a pep talk from Sonja, I put on the plastic gloves and tried to clean the wound as best I could. Harry let me. He could barely breathe and was letting out the saddest cries. I knew he was going to die.
I went in and out of the house for an hour or so after that, taking turns crying in my room, and then coming out to pet Harry. He moved to under the bench on our porch and died in one of his favorite spots to sleep.
Harry will always be my friend. He brightened up my days when I didn’t want to go to school by greeting me and following me to my bicycle, weaving in and out of my legs so I could not leave. He didn’t ever ask to take any pictures with me, or if I liked eating rice. He didn’t ask me why I wasn’t married, or to give motivation to his cat friends. He just enjoyed my company and I enjoyed his. He was a kind, loving, and patient animal and will be missed by many.
May there be eternal sunshine on your resting place, Harry.