20th October 2013
Violent rain batters the car. We’re on the motorway, in heavy traffic. Dad is driving, Mum is navigating and am sitting in the back. Next to me is a box and something inside the box is crying and has been howling non-stop for almost two hours.
“Tanya, talk to him,” Mum says, turning round. “Keep talking to him.” Mum looks exhausted and strained.
“It’s OK, kitten,” I say, because it is, of course, the baby fluffy monster inside the box. “You’re coming to live with us and we’re your family now.”
The kitten doesn’t stop howling. He’s scratching at the box, trying to get out. Opening the top of the box, I put my hand inside and stroke his little orange head. His fur is so soft. He stops crying.
“Tanya, close that box this instant,” Mum says, looking cross. “He’ll escape and then he’ll be loose in the car and…”
“Sorry,” I say, pushing the kitten back inside the box – he is already attempting to get out and closing the flap. What if he doesn’t like us, I think. What if he never stops crying and he doesn’t like it at our house and he won’t speak to us and this is all a Terrible Mistake. I’ve just had nine cycles of chemotherapy: I’m not going to be able to help the parentals with him that much, I’m too ill.
Another hour passes and then we’re home. “Right, kitten,” I say, putting the box down on the floor of his new bedroom, opening the door. “You can come out now.”
His tiny face appears, then his front paws, then his back legs and, last of all his little tail.
“Couldn’t you have chosen one with a proper tail?” Mum says.
And just like that, he’s out and exploring his new bedroom. Here he is:
He’s so confident, this little chap. He explores his environment with such a sense of purpose, investigating everything from cups of coffee to computers.
And now, two years later, he’s a huge adult person. He’s even grown a proper tail: