Timor-Leste: Mister Busa, we need to talk

It makes me happy when I heave through the heavy compound gate and see you jump down from the mango tree, trot out to meet me, squeak, and then swing at the guard dogs. Claws out. Neither of us is a fan of the guard dogs. They need to leave us alone, and stay away from your mango tree.

 

Yes, of course I’m very fond of you, and I do like your company. But when you casually swipe a low-walking gecko off the kitchen wall and crunch crunch crunch it in half, it’s a bit off putting.   It’s even worse when you do it just after you have been fed, because it really seems like you are doing this for your own amusement.

 

You have rather particular taste, Mister Busa. You howl as if you are starving, are momentarily distracted by a crab or cockroach crossing your path, and continue to yell at me. The cockroach or crab just resumes its business, uninterrupted by you. And often snuggles into my sandal for the night. I’m always delighted to find a crab in my sandal in the morning, Mister Busa.

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Finding cat food in this town is not easy, but I do it because I think that if you get fat, you will be slower in stalking me. I might have a better chance of seeing you behind the bathroom door, before you lurch for the ankle, if you are a bit chunkier. We are both putting on weight, but you show no signs of stalking me less. In my heart I understand that you do try to not stalk me: but you always do.

 

My foot is not your enemy, Mister Busa. It intends you no harm. It is not looking at you in a threatening way, it isn’t going to steal your food, nor compete with you for the low-walking geckoes.   It’s just a foot. It’s attached to me, the person who feeds you.

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I like to think that you bite my legs when I’m asleep just to make sure that I’m not dead. Perhaps it comforts you to see me animated, even if it is just to yell at you. I promise Mister Busa, I’m not dead, I’m just tired.  And now I’m bleeding.

 

Hostage situations are serious business, especially on the other side of the ditch. It gives Bidau Santana besic igrasia a bad name when people get pinned under large, territorial animals. Maybe you do this to show me that you think we are friends. But Mister Busa, friends don’t sit on friends and look like they will be cross if moved. And you often do look cross.

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I’m using a lot of Betadine since you moved in: my colleagues notice the brown iodine stains on my legs and feet (and hands) and don’t understand why I keep you.  I explain that there are moments when you aren’t terrifying, and even let me pat you. Sometimes you sit next to me and are chill. Sometimes. And I like the company.

 

You’re a good cat, Mister Busa. A good cat.

 

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*Busa means cat in Tetun language.

*Children here call foreign soldiers ‘Mister, Mister’

 

 

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