Wednesday, 24 September 2008

ELVIS PRESLEY: "Are You Lonesome Tonight"

There must have been 8, 9 or even 10 stray cats surrounding him. They were like guards protecting their king, who himself was sitting on a plastic throne while browsing the web on his laptop. This must be the way how stall owners fight boredom nowadays, when only occasionally a rare passer-by approaches them to buy a drink or ice-cream.

The cats seemed lazy yet very spying. They were yawning in the hot afternoon sun, but their eyes wandered around and measured anybody who came near.

According to an old popular belief, cats are said to have nine lives. I have always found it contradictory how people would believe in reincarnation for an animal, while adopting another theory when their own species is concerned. Just imagine…The world would be a totally different place when we would know that we have exactly 9 lives to go.

How unbelievable it may seem, the concept of having more than just one life must sure make sense for kids growing up with computer games nowadays. The characters in the game have multiple lives, and there is always another round to play or a new game to start from scratch. “Game over” is an illusion in those dark modern temples, where school kids gather to worship their IT gods, pulling joysticks as ritual, chanting magical words which only hardcore gamers can understand. Candles are replaced by flickering computer screens; offers consist of coke and potato chips.

What a waste to spend hours inside these noisy cages filled with illusions, when you could be outside and feel the sun on your cheek instead. You could be strolling in this nearby park, where palm trees are like spectators on the grass pavement, waving at you when you pass by, as if you were a king indeed. Why prefer the cold blowing of an aircon above the cooling breeze along the shoreline? Only close to nature can you get closer to yourself.

Do you take care of these cats?” I asked. “Yes, I do”, he said. “They are my best friends”. I heard both sadness and happiness in those words, without knowing which of these feelings dominated. Was the weather turning bad or just better? Were rays of sunlight peeking through the clouds on a rainy afternoon, or had gloomy clouds just started to conquer the blue sky? What has happened to this man that he values the companionship of animals more than that of humans? We talked for a while. He claimed that he could understand his cats, and that they could understand him. I understood how reassuring it must be for him to have some living creatures around, who are always there, who make him feel never lonely; who listen to him without judging; to whom he can confide his secrets, while knowing that they won’t gossip afterwards.

One of the cats jumped away as I gently opened the sliding door of the fridge to take a can of drinks. It looked at me, sulking, and walked away in slow motion in search of new spot to lie down. I put some coins on the table and turned around to continue my walk. “Thanks for the conversation!” I said. “You too. Have a nice day. Goodbye!” And for a moment, I read gratefulness in his eyes. His smile betrayed a slight hint of sunshine, as he found out that there are actually other living creatures that make him feel less lonely, that listen without judging. And unlike his beloved cats, some do reply in a friendly manner when he speaks out loud.

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