Ian Pike 2 p.m., Dec. 7
On the night of July 9th, 2012 at about 10 pm I opened the door to take out the trash. As soon as I opened the door a kitten walked in as if it had been knocking and was waiting for someone to answer. All I saw was another mouth to feed. After contemplating how Obama's reign had reduced my life to one of hunger, poverty, ill health and high interest unsecured debt i shooed the little begger out the door with a stern warning.
"shoo, you're in the wrong place. I am poor."
I took out my trash. Reentered the apartment careful not to let the intruder re-enter. I grabbed my bike and went out for a fish taco, 10 pesos. Two long strips of fried fish served on two corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes and onions, sour cream sauce and a touch of sala. Way too much to eat as one taco. I grabbed a plastic spork , seperated the two corn tortillas and split the contents between them. Really, you get two good size fish tacos for 10 pesos.
When I returned home there was no sign of the interloper. I opened the door, wheeled my bike inside and hung it on its' rack. I turned around and bang, there it was again. Again, I shooed it out the door with a stern warning.
"Shoo, you're in the wrong place. I an poor and Tijuana is not a pet friendly city. You want to roam onto the other side of that fence over there, the one with all the lights. You can't miss it. Roam up to any house over there and I guarantee that you will be way beter off." I pointed it toward the border, about a par 5 from my frontdoor and gave it an encouraging shove down the stairs.
Almost every fence in Tijuana has a sign that says "Cuidado pero bravo". Loosely translated to English, "Careful vicious, uncontrollable, hungry watch dog will try to lure you over the fenve into the yard with promises of easily stolen modern electronics only to savagely attack you and drag your lifeless corpse behind a tree where it can leisurely feed of yourquickly decaying, fetid remains". Then suddenly, the chihuahua with big chompy teeth that doesn't know when to shut up comes into view. If you don't know how this little story ends then your are culturally deprived and i recommend that you rent "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". The funniest movie ever attempted by man.
Every home in Tijuana does have a dog but they are not really pets. They are what is accurately referred to as a Tijuana home alarm system. At 3 am when I hear the local alarm go off, literally six dogs that live nearby that bark as a team, I know that someone is walking down the street. Or a raccoon, or a cat or a rat the size of a cat. This goes on for about ten minutes or until the threat leaves the area.
I don’t think that I’ve ever seen any of the neighbors affectionately interact with their dogs. Most do have water dishes, a bucket placed under a leaking water spout. Dinner is left overs thrown out the kitchen door into the dirt yard. Really, I’ve seen the tortillas come flying out the door followed by eggs and beans flipped out of a pan into the yard. The dog ran over there and started wolfing it down like it was starved, paused, sweated, shot an evil look towards the door then went to the water bucket for a long drink before it returned to wolf down some more. You’d think that they would get used to the chilies and learn to like them, you know, the way we do.
Cats aren’t as lucky. Far as I can tell most TJ cats are feral. Even if they have a place to stay they generally aren’t allowed in the house. They may get some food but at night they appear to be scrounging the trash cans for food and setting off the local alarm system. They slowly back up and run off as soon as the local rats return to claim their territory and enforce their boundaries. Once, while riding my bike downtown I saw a rat come up of out the sewer grate and run down the street. It was at least as big as a Chihuahua. More than once I have heard it said, “cats no sirve por nada” or “cats, huh, what are they good for, absolutely nothing, say it again”.
The neighbors know that I had a pet cat and that I let it inside and that I fed it. It even had a collar with a bow and a tag with it's name and address. Walking down the sidewalk one day I heard my neighbors, two old crones, gossiping about me. “El es une brujo con gato” or loosely translated, “ Watch out, he is the warlock with the cat. He will cast a spell on you and force you to wash his dishes and clean his kitchen. If you are not careful you could end up being the one that cleans his bathroom. Oh, I have heard stories about that bathroom, even the cat won’t go in there”. Yeah, as if. Getting a woman to clean your apartment in a country where prostitution is not illegal, loosely regulated and relatively safe for all involved would constitute proof of witchery. I tried once. It turns out that just getting the dishes washed would cost me more than a half hour fully jacketed Cleveland steamer. I’ll let you guess which one I chose.
An hour or so passes and I check the door, stick my head out, look left, look right, clear, look down and there it is again walking right in. Then it hits me. My pet Kennie died a couple months ago. What if she registered with the proper authorities, provided valid identification and applied for species specific, local specific reincarnation. Waited for the first available opening, suckled the teet until her eyes opened, went out and stared at the stars until she got her bearings then set off on a journey across Tijuana until she found her way back to my door only to have me gently shove her down the stairs. I mean, what other explanation could there be for a kitten stalking me and running in my front door at every opportunity? Has that ever happened to you?
I let the kitten in and closed the door. She looked tired. Can you imagine the type of bureaucratic red tape that must be involved in that type of soul migration. Karmic background checks, notarized proof of worthiness certificates, and the life history scan in front of those that shall judge you. Kennie was only 14 years old but in cat years that’s almost 14 years. You know, the Earth making a full rotation around the sun. Animals aren’t doing that any faster than we are.
I just watched to see what it would do. It walked over to my dresser. Climbed up the three partially open drawers and crawled into my sock drawer. Then, looked out at me for a spell, photo-op. Then went to sleep for a long time, even by cat standards.
A lot, if not the majority of people believe in reincarnation. It is central in Asian Indian religions, and there are billions of Asian Indians. Although Judeo/Christian/Muslim/Mormon religions don’t believe that the soul is issued a new body that lives here on earth after death it does seem that psychics have a lot of success convincing followers of said religions that in a past life they were slave owning aristocrats during early Roman times. But, you know, the good kind of slave owners. If psychics tried to peddle that crap in India they would have to say, “ In a past life you were a worker bee. A genetic clone of all the other worker bees in your hive. You lived to service the queen until your death, fighting off humans that tried to steal honey. In that life you learned conformity and cooperation. That life was short so you didn’t receive a lot of karmic credit points. You relived that life 500 times before finally moving up to spotted owl. ”
Asian Indians believe that animals have souls. Animals are hierarchical and your placement into a new body depends on the trade in value of your previous life. A good life allows your soul to enter into a better animal body in the next round and a bad life causes you to become a dung beetle again. Scientology may be the largest western religion that believes in and describes the process of reincarnation. So it is not that crazy to believe that my cat had a soul. Although, Kennie was a good cat and I am sure that she could have gone all the way to cow had she not been approved for a special placement.
So what is it about Kennie that I would expect to see in Chakotay, if she were in fact the same soul reincarnate? Or should I just take her to a psychic and pay my $150 to receive the answer to the question that has been haunting me? “If everybody else is running around with a new set of skin why are some deceased relatives hanging around the studio telling the psychic that I was breast fed, TILL I WAS 12!”
I find it strange that people never question the psychics about why they don’t remember their past lives. I would think that memory and experiences are a huge part of what we are. How can we grow and improve on our previous lives if we don't remember the lessons of our past? What about us is carried over into the next body? Beliefs? Attitudes? Temperament? What type of sign might confirm that this cat is “Kennie 2: The Sequel”.
It certainly remembered where I live. It walked in my door as if it was outside waiting and knew exactly where it was going. Once it was in it didn’t explore the apartment. It walked over to my dresser and started to climb up, using drawers that were partially open as steps. It crawled into a sock drawer on the third floor and got some sleep. Kennie never did that and that was a one time deal, this was never repeated. Maybe it was born and lived in a dresser drawer up to that point in its life. It was such a tiny thing and it knew how to climb up the dresser drawer by drawer. One day while I was reading during my morning constitutional this little kitten walked into the bathroom, walked into the shower, sniffed around then squatted over the drain to tinkle, a real tinkle, not territorial marking or anything like that. This was before I could even get it to go in the litter box. Kennie would do that when her box got too gross because of inattention on my part. It was her way of telling me that it was time to clean the litter. But it took a week of finding poop behind the stove before this new kitten used the litter box. Surely, Kennie would have known where the box was and recognized her own brand when she smelled it.
The number one evidence that this cat is an imposter is the fact that when I am in the kitchen this little kitten follows me and starts rubbing itself around my ankles to let me know it is there. Then it starts whining, insistently, “Yeow”. Kennie almost never made a sound. She would follow me into the kitchen, sit in front of her bowl and stare up at her box of food on the counter. She would patiently sit there, silently waiting for me to notice and acknowledge her. If she wanted to go outside she would sit in front of the door and stare at the door knob, patiently waiting for me to notice her. She would never have been as insistent or demanding as to whine.
Is it Kennie? I don’t think so. I’m not sure how I would know if it was. Is it possible for it to be Kennie? I’m not going anywhere near that one. I was certainly startled and taken aback by the way it just wandered in and acted like it owned the place. Most cats are a bit skittish around strangers.
What do I know for sure? She is an adorable little kitten, playful with boundless energy. She chases her toys around the apartment then runs laps around and behind furniture. I have had to move things around a couple of times to make sure her paths are wide enough as she starts to get bigger. When she is all tuckered out she will jump up onto my lap, stare at the TV for a few minutes then roll up and fall asleep in my lap. When I go to bed, she goes to bed, curled up next to me. At this point I think that I have to keep her.