She lay in the weak winter sun, huddled into herself against the cold.
Lying still on the filthy concrete, she made me think that the cold had been too harsh for her. But when I stepped closer, she raised her tiny head to give me a wink.
A stray cat in a city full of them. Scarred and one-eyed; scrawny, starving, beaten-up and prowling, these cats emerge at nightfall and only cry when they think we’re asleep.
Stray cats who despite the dangers, sleep in shop doorways and bask in winter sun.
I didn’t think she would let me stroke her. I thought to a stray, an animal who knows how quickly human kindness wanes and turns to cruelty, the touch of some stranger would be the last thing desired.
I didn’t think she would wrap herself around my leg and mew sadly when I turned to leave.
But before I left, I listened to her secrets.
She told me that I needn’t worry. That He Who created her, created me too – and that as long as we stay close to our Creator, we are protected and can never become strays.
She told me that I shouldn’t pity her. That just because she sleeps in doorways means nothing – it is internal poverty that I should pity and fear. She said that as long as we have Al-Ghani, we are never poor.
She said that, for our Master’s sake, I should show her kindness. But she warned me against self-righteousness. She said that dumpsters also feed her; and unlike the humans that use them, dumpsters never forget what they are made of.
The breeze whipped at us as she drew closer to me. No matter how many times we get hurt, she said, we should keep looking for the best in others. One moment of kindness can make you forget a hundred bad owners.
The sun was leaving us for dark clouds. In the last of its light she stretched, trying to keep warm. I could smell snow in the wind, the promise of black ice. The cat just purred at me.
The best is yet to come, she said.