The other day my kids asked me if I had a pet when I was a child, which made me tell them a little story about the kitten we had for a week. This story went something like this:
When I was about eight-years-old and my brother five, we begged our parents to get us a dog or a cat all the time. For as long as I can remember my Father was allergic to dogs. Wait, let me re-phrase that. For as long as I could remember in my old age of eight, my Father TOLD us that he was allergic to dogs. He wasn’t very clear on what would happen to him if he came in contact with one, but still VERY allergic. So, we started asking for a cat…
One beautiful, overcast, and raining summer morning in Latvia (it always rained), my brother and I woke up to a brand new kitten purring at our beds. Yes, my brother and I shared a bedroom for a very long time. In fact all siblings, grandparents and sometimes distant relatives shared rooms in Russia. Going back to the kitten.
It was a typical grey, not-very-attractive kitten but to us he was the most beautiful cat in the world! He was playful and sweet, during the day. At night, he turned into a monster who hissed and scratched, and ripped everything to shreds. My Grandmother wasn’t so thrilled about having another mouth to feed in the house, and every chance she got she let us know how much she hated the damn thing. I started suspecting something when my she made little comments like, “Oh I hope the little thing never gets eaten by anything when you let him outside!” Or “I sure hope he lives a long life with us!” I don’t know if any of you reading this see where this might be going, my kids sure didn’t…
One a not so beautiful, overcast but NOT a rainy morning we woke up to my Grandmother sitting very quietly in the corner of the room, just as my Grandfather blared the radio, as he did every morning in order to get us out of bed (let me remind you this was summer, no school, nowhere to go, and they let us sleep in til 8:30). I didn’t see the kitten anywhere, and began to panic. We all went out looking for him. After looking all over the house and outside for days, my Grandmother finally told us that the cat ran away and got hit by a car! And yes, he died…
I cried and cried for days after, and my parents promised to get us another kitten soon. Yea, that never happened although we did get an Afghan Hound puppy for a whole day once! Somehow when my Father wanted this beautiful dog, his allergies went away suddenly… However, after the first pee and poop on the floor of our tiny two-bedroom apartment, my Father’s allergies returned and the puppy had to be taken away… To this day I am not sure what happened to him, he simply disappeared.
The real kicker of this story is that years later I learned the real truth about what happened to that kitten! Once my Grandmother’s animosity towards the cat grew to the point of no return, she decided to simply get rid of it. So instead of telling us that she gave him back to the people we got him from, she made up a story of him being unhappy in our house, running away and getting hit by a car. Isn’t that nice?
What can I say… That’s how we do it in Russia…
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