Here's another picture of the neighborhood I grew up in. I remember running back and forth across that street with my brothers.
It was a game, to see who could get across faster. I was really good at it.
It's taken me a couple days to get back to telling the story of my first year with the Big-Two-Legged One. You know, when I think about it, I can't help but be a little angry. Oh, I've forgiven her, but every now and then I have a vague memory of it all, and I get pissed, and I attack her hand or her foot, or whatever. It's amazing she's kept me this long.
But anyway, in my last entry I told the story of how I kept wanting to have a boy cat after Hasan did The Operation that was supposed to make me not care about boy cats anymore. By the third time, well, I was pretty sick, and the Big Two Legged One was really tired. We'd tried all kinds of tricks to get me to stop howling. There was one day, when the heat wasn't working in the apartment, when she sat in the bathroom with me, with something I learned is called a Q-Tip, and, well, to put it simply,
she satisfied me. Yeah, that's right. My human did the dirty deed to me.
Well, it wasn't total satisfaction. I mean: she is a she. I started jumping up on her, and trying to get to those Q-Tips.
I really couldn't help it.
So she called the man named Mustafa, and together we took a taksi to Ankara University. Here I was again, with another taskici saying guzel kedi, hasta mı? (pretty kitty, is she sick?) when I knew damned well that if he saw me in the street, he might kick me.
You're judged by the company you keep, I guess, and here I was with an American college professor, so the taxi drivers decided I was some spoiled American cat. HA!
I was howling all the way to the University, where we ended up sitting in a dark room, waiting. I kept howling, ignoring the picture of Ataturk on the wall in front of me, ignoring the calender pictures of cows and horses on the other walls. The BTLO noticed them, though, and I've heard her mention them when she tells this story. That and the farmer waiting with us; his cow was outside the building, grazing.
Then he came in: the man who would change my life. His name with Mustafa Un. He was dressed in a long white lab coat, and followed by a litter of veterinary students. The BTLO seemed really happy when he spoke English. She told the story of all the stupid Operations I'd had, in just a six month period, while he pulled me out of my box.
He was one of those humans who knows exactly how to touch a cat. Or any animal, really. The minute he pulled me out of the box and looked me in the eyes, I stopped howling. I let him and his group of students take me to a stall next to where the farmer's cow was now standing, and they did something with some machine that he kept rubbing all over my body.. I heard him tell the BTLO that he couldn't see what was going on inside me. But he gave her three choices:
1. She can let this go, and give me shots to calm me down. That would kill me in a couple years.
2. She could just ignore it and listen to me howling every few months. The probably wouldn't be very good for me either.
3. Or she could let Mustafa try to operate.
To make this story a little shorter, she went for #3. She looked at him with her tired eyes and convinced him to keep me with him that night.
He took me to another room, then, and a little while later I was asleep. I don't remember anything, but I remember waking up and shivvering all over.
I really thought I would die. My whole body was on fire.
Mustafa let me sleep on his belly that night. He was taking care of the clinic, and sleeping on a cot. He had a big soft belly and a laugh that felt like cool clear water running through the gutters after a rain. He spoke Turkish to me as if I was a person. I tried to speak back to him, but it hurt too much.
I was still pretty sick when the Big-Two-Legged-One came and got me the next day. I heard Mustafa explain what was wrong with me:
"she still had half of her uterus and one ovary inside of her. It was fused up against her bladder. But we got it all. Still, she has some sepsis. She's very sick and could still die tonight."
He gave her some antibiotics for me. I decided on the spot I'd fight them. I'd had enough of these pills and shots.
She also wanted my ovary and uterus, because he actually showed it to her. He got upset. "Don't go after the vet who did this. Let me do it."
That was the first time I heard him ask for Hasan's name.
She told him, and he rolled his eyes.
He knew Hasan. He graduated from the program.
"Some of our graduates, you know, aren't really very good vets. But some have wealthy parent who buy them what they need to set up a business, and they do it. And Turkiye has no regulations; they can do whatever they want to do for money.
"Unlike me. I work for the state," he added. "I don't make any money. I do it out of love. Or insanity."
He laughed, and hugged me, then sent me home with the BTLO.
I slept on her belly that night. I was shivvering and hot when I went to sleep, but sometime during the night, I felt myself explode, and the heat went away. I woke the BTLO up in the morning, licking her face.
I should have had a happy ever after then. But something happened that no one expected. She couldn't get me to take the antibiotics. So she took me, every few days, back to Mustafa, which I didn't mind that much, and he gave me a shot.
One day she couldn't get to Ankara University. She didn't have time. We'd stopped taking taxis; we were no regular bus riders. She called Mustafa, and he said "any vet could give this shot." He told her what it was. Some antibiotic.
She took me to the vet who had sent us to Mustafa. He didn't have that antibiotic, but he gave me another.
I didn't feel good after that. A week or so later, I woke up in the middle of the night and I realized my head was empty. I could not hear the night birds. I could not hear the howling dogs, or the occasional car on the road. I could not hear the BTLO breathing.
I could not even hear my own voice.
I stood in the middle of our big empty room and screamed.
I screamed and screamed,
trying to hear my voice.
I couldn't hear my voice, but I could feel it. If I went into a small space, like the bathroom or a closet,
I could feel it. And the BTLO thought I was wanting a man again.
She got angry.
So I slept a lot. I slept like I was dead.
It took the BTLO a couple weeks, and the help of a friend, before she started to understand I couldn't hear anymore. And all I could do was scream and sleep.
I have to give her credit. She looked tired, but she kept giving me kuzu şiş , and petting me and playing ball with me. She would get mad sometimes, and so would I.
Sometimes she would just cry.
And so would I.
We'd go to see Mustafa often, and he was always happy to see me. When she told him I was deaf - sağır is the Turkish word - he rubbed my ears and said "I wish I could go deaf sometimes. I really hate hearing the things I have to hear."
Maybe that's true for humans. But for a cat, well, being deaf is not so easy.
As summer came, I knew the Big-Two-Legged-One was upset about something. She seemed to want to go somewhere, and I had a funny feeling it didn't include me.
She met an old student from the program she taught in. His name was Onur. Everyone thought Onur was a bit crazy, a bit like me, I guess. I don't know how she made this deal with him, but he agreed to let me stay with him that summer, while the BTLO went away. Part of me thought she'd probably never come back, and part of me just didn't care. Onur would let me go out on his balcony, and after a few months, he got another street cat like me. And we would play. Onur would scratch me just right, and we both decided that we would be nice together.
And then the Big-Two-Legged-One came back, and I was actually happy to see her.
She did that every summer for a few years, and I was always happy to be with Onur, and always happy to see her again. I guess I came to understand that she a bit of cat in her: if she made a promise to you, she kept it.
Cats are like that, you know. Cats never lie to you.
Sometimes they just don't answer you, if they think the answer will make them have to lie, but in general, cats are very truthful animals.
Oh, so what am I doing right now?
I'm sleeping on another couch. Here, check it out.
I live in the America now, as you know.
I've got a few more stories to tell, but for now,
I'll say goodnight.