Thursday, 18 September 2008

Bad Pussy Broke My Pot!







There’s been more animal trouble here at home in the far rice fields of Surin.

Last night it was tipping it down with rain and I was a bit bothered as Cat was still not back from the college and I couldn’t help thinking about her out there on her motorbike on the dark, wet roads. Every time I heard a motorbike I went to the window and at last I heard the aluminium front door grate loudly.

I went downstairs but there was no Cat. She had fled outside again to get her things and there on the floor were two tiny white puppies.

‘No, Cat! No!’ I say stridently to the empty room. ‘Don’t even think about it!’

She’s particularly warm and friendly to me as she flings the door open again and bursts inside, but no the dogs she’s just brought back are not for us, she insists. Of course they’re not! They’re for Yut and Mali whose dogs have all been eaten and mowed down by trucks.

I admit that the puppies are irresistibly sweet and cuddly. Missing their mummy, Cat finds the nearest substitute for them… a trio of soft toy dogs, including the unfortunate dog that got hanged on the road sign for the sake of literature. (‘You can score on route 24’. See MY THAI GIRL AND I at page 243.)

This morning Cat’s now gone off to college and I can hear the puppies down stairs whining piteously. This could just be the first chapter of another family saga!

There’s been serious cat trouble too but that now requires me to digress a bit with a mega-flashback.

Perhaps eight hundred years ago, not so far away over the Dongrak hills in what is now Cambodia, two hands like mine skillfully kneaded some clay and made a tiny round pot with a small hole in the top. It was fired the colour of brown earth and awaited its fate. Somebody must have died and it was buried alongside him in the grave, probably filled with grain to help him in his afterlife.

Fast forward to a year or so ago and a poverty stricken Cambodian farmer (or possibly a worker clearing mines) unearths the pot when digging in the soil. He sells it for a few baht and it finds its way onto a stall in the border market at Chong Jom. I then buy it for the price of a few dozen eggs and it ends up on top of the wardrobe in our bedroom alongside my collection of Buddhas.

Respect for the Buddha means that his image must always be placed higher than the mortals around him and so this seemed a good, safe place to keep my ancient pots as well.

At least I thought it was a good place until yesterday. That was when Bee, our pretty little cat who likes exploring every nook and cranny took it into her head to be a cat in a china shop. Risking one of her nine lives, she jumped up onto the wardrobe and tried threading her way through gaps between the artefacts that simply were too narrow for her.

I was out on the verandah and heard the crash with a sense of dread. For the pot to have survived so long with not a mark and then be smashed to bits by a stupid cat. And I suppose I was to blame.

At least Cat understands my dismay but it goes uncomprehended by Mama and the older generation.

‘Was it expensive? Mai pen rai. Buy new one.’

‘Very old… no problem! Thank goodness it wasn’t new.’

Bee, the cat is warm and purry, equally unaware. She hasn’t the first idea what she’s done. I tell her she’s a bad, bad pussy but she’s not in the least bit impressed.

Perhaps she has the right attitude then… to release all awareness of self, to renounce all striving and worldliness. I guess she must be a Buddhist cat.

2 comments:

Alain said...

Mai pen rai, Andrew.Poor cat.Folklorique, la traduction en Francais!Heureusement que ce n'est pas Cat qui l'a cassé..."Manque de pot" comme on dit en Francais. Cat qui rentre bien tard!

Thai Girl said...

Alain,

Merci alors! C'est magnifique!

Ou est le dictionaire de ma tante?

'Manque de pot'? Comme vous dites en Francais.

L'herbe? Le ganja peut etre?

Il faut que je fasse mes etudes linguistiqes beaucoup better than I did.

Andrew