|Ami J. Sanghvi knows how deep and true the love of our animals can be, and how it helps us understand our own inherent worthiness of love. With earnest adoration, she writes of the lasting healing effects that come of loving and being loved well. In response to our November prompt, Sanghvi shares gratitude for a bond with her cat, Aladdin, that endures in her heart and her memories.|
by Ami J. Sanghvi
The moment I gazed into those gigantic chocolate pupils and held that tiny, fluffy being in my anorexic, sliced-up arms, I knew I had to love him and cherish him more than I had anyone or anything in my life before. I’ll never forget how I first beamed at the wide-eyed sweetheart in my arms, and then almost sobbed in the wake of something so pure in a world that had already been so fucking cruel to me even before I reached my nineteenth birthday. I never understood how people can see their newborn child for the first time and have this absurd, life-changing moment, but the second that Aladdin was placed into my outstretched hands, I knew for a fact there had been a wondrous shift in my destiny, that the Fates were smiling down upon me….
Even if only for a moment.
I know, I know; a kitten is not the same as a baby in some people’s eyes. Still, to me, Aladdin was my infant, my actual child. From the moment he entered my at-the-time bewildering and terrible life, we had one of the strongest connections I have ever experienced with another living creature. We needed each other immediately and forever, and even though it has been years upon years since I last held him, that has never changed…
Not even for a moment.
I remember waking up the morning after we brought him home, me and my terrible boyfriend at the time, to find a purring kitten next to me. He was scared and confused by having a new home, but he already wanted to play with me, and better yet, love me properly. He didn’t care about my body; he didn’t seek to violate or possess it like so many of the other “men” I’d known in my life. Thus, I immediately returned that enthusiasm and love, learning how to hold him properly as to not hurt his back, and cherishing the short period when I still got to feed him formula from a bottle. I was so astonished that this kitten, who could fit into the palm of my hand, had so much character and personality inside such a miniscule body.
Perhaps he was tiny in the physical way, but mentally, he was magnificent.
And so I raised this week-old kitten into an adult, and we continued to change each other’s lives. I watched him grow up, from being a baby who face-planted into a bowl of formula to an adult who could down his hard food in moments flat. I remember being terrified the first time I ever saw him climb up on a high surface and prepare himself to jump. I wanted to catch him so badly, but I understood, that as his cat-mother, I had to let him grow into the brave, fearless cat he was meant to be. It wasn’t on me to impose the terror on him that society had already inflicted on me by then…
Me: a human woman.
The world: a place of monstrous men.
There were so many nights when I felt lonely, depressed, and afraid; I cried, playing my trauma on loop in my head, getting blood all over my pajamas, and contemplating suicide. Those were the nights where, even at such a young age, he shared his strength with me. He stopped playing long enough to come and be by my side, place his paw on my hand, and sob along with me until he was absolutely sure I was feeling better.
As he got older, he started to seek out hiding spots, to crave a sense of privacy from the world. I would let him run off and hide, only to find him a few hours later behind this giant teddy bear of mine when it was time for him to eat. He always looked so astonished when I found him, and I swear, it was, by far, the cutest thing in the world; more importantly, it was enough to shed a few rays of light on some of my darkest days. Aladdin would even sleep by my side each night, follow me around my apartment, and wait for me by the door whenever I left so that he could be the first to greet me when I came home. I’m not sure I’d ever felt so special before…
Like I was almost worthy of kindness and love…
Or something along those lines.
Thus, my baby grew up before my very eyes [although he would still let me hold him and plant kisses on his nose when he was sure no one else was looking]. And finally, the day came when my ex-boyfriend gave him away to complete strangers in an act of cruel vengeance, in an attempt to scar me one final time. I never got to say good-bye, and I fear that I will never love another living being in the same way that I loved, and still love, Aladdin.
But wherever he is, I hope he feels it when I think and wonder and dream about him each night; furthermore, I pray to God that wherever he is and wherever I go, he’ll always know his human mother will love him relentlessly through any and everything.
Thank you so much, Aladdin; I’m so grateful for the short time we got to spend together. I’ll never forget you, and I’ll never stop loving you.
You’ll be with me until my final breath.
Ami J. Sanghvi is a 25-year-old, female, Indian-American, queer writer. At this time, she’s self-published four poetry books: “Amaranthine,” “Devolution,” “Armageddon,” and “Silk & Cigars.” She’s also a photographer, satirist, mixed martial artist, activist, and M.F.A. candidate.