I noticed her in passing, sitting behind the window of a furniture shop. A big tiger cat with clever eyes, observing the world immersed in its Saturday night business.
Fat cats sleeping behind the windows of all sorts of shops is something usual for Brussels but not in the night, not all alone.
I stopped and looked into her eyes; then took out my mobile to take a picture. Was she forgotten? Carelessly left behind? Or “hired” to attract attention – an eccentric model of someone’s perverse understanding of marketing?
Whatever it was, she didn’t seem to be cherishing it. Before I managed to press the flat button on my mobile screen, she had shown me her back. Next thing she was standing on her back paws, behind the door, staring at me and meowing, if only I could hear her. It struck me as an allegory of something many of us has experienced – the feeling of seeing the world through a glass, not being able to reach out nor to be reached, staying unheard, muted by the reality…
But this cat, she was not a dead concept. She was a living lonely creature craving for contact. I squatted and saw the letter box. I lifted its cover and squeezed my fingers through it. Now part of me was inside, with the cat. She was looking at them with interest and suspicion. I started moving them. A playful flame appeared in her eyes as they were following my fingers. She took the prowling pose and jumped. I pulled my fingers back and showed them in a moment making fast movements. She was fully engaged with the game.
At some point she stood up again on her back pawls, holding my fingers with the front ones and gently bit them. I caressed her tiger head. And that was it. Reaching out. As simple as it could be if we really try.
”Now she will be even more sad and lonely”, I told my companion as we walked away. But who can possibly know what’s happening in the heart of such a complex creature as a cat? What mattered (to me) was that moment of her holding my fingers; of me making a caress possible despite all the walls and barriers.The moment when we – me and the cat – were one.