We’ve heard her the last few afternoons.
It begins with a quiet, rather winy voice. Reggie, she calls. Reggie, Reggie. Ron and Reg are her cats. Named after the Kray twins. They are gorgeous animals, sleek, spotted and grey, their bodies as lean as hungry tigers. They are her children, he said. But they are cats, I answered. How do they come when they are called? Does it work, the calling? Does Reggie obey? She keeps it up for quite a while. I am napping on the bed next to him. We mimic her, not unkindly, for I would never willingly be unkind, but gently. Reggie, Reggie. Sometimes she whistles. If she offering a bribe? Why is she calling him? Is it supper time? Do cats have supper? Or is she going out and wants them safely in? We never hear her calling for Ron. Is Reggie her favourite or is he the wanderer, one of the cats I often see pussy-footing their way across the wilderness beyond our window?
There are several cats in the Quad. A favourite is Betty. Have I told you of Betty? Everyone knows her. I even heard the big bearded man who smokes outside C block talk of her. You can hear her coming by the jangle of the bell on her collar, an anti-bird-killing bell no doubt. She has a toy, a furry black and white teddy thing, maybe a panda, that she often abandons on the roof. When she sees anybody she trots after them. A sociable cat without reservation. Not so the Krays. They are suspicious of strangers. Keeping their own counsel, sidling off, under bushes, under fences.
It rained. It wasn’t forecast to do so. I feel my irritation. It isn’t personal and so what, think of those hundreds in India enduring those floods. Get a grip. Eh?
I was moved to stillness, catching the end of it while I did yoga. Sue Macgregor’s Reunion with four Auschwitz survivors. What eloquence. Not mawkish sentimentality, just hard reality. We were displaced, one said. We were told we were free but where were we to go? said another. The miracle of his gentleness, said a third referring to the ambulance man who liberated her. Their voices were cold with the memory of it. Beyond living. It has to be listened to. The British gave them too much food. More died in the three months after than before, said one. Could that be true? Kindness killing. Killing with kindness. There is so much I do not know. Is listening enough?
A milky grey sky. My phone pings. I finished the writing just now, just one more review to go. I will begin tomorrow. For now I am tired. Yesterday was full on writing. A breather, a gathering time. Then begin again.