This is a picture of the latest addition to the fleet, brought in from Vietnam, replete with Vietnamese pilots to complement our own crew who will be operating her. The two External Forward Tanks which are depicted by the pilot's door, with the other at the copilot's door, have since been removed. These are not the company's livery colours, but I think the red white and blue pops!!
I have just clocked one complete year in the company. No, there are no anniversary celebrations, just a staid passage of time from the preceding year into the next. Corporate politics is such a drag, with resolutions existing in a time frame that do not conclude beneficially within any one person's career span. Service life has trained the pessimist in me to a razor sharp point, and I see the ominous writing on the wall in predictive text as the foregone conclusion to an exercise in futility. A long time ago, I sour graped myself into believing that the job is merely the means by which I make bread. Life itself therefore has to be more than what meagre joys the breadwinning entails.
A suitable distraction has presented itself in the feline form of Antonio the cat. He adopted us in speechless manner by storming into the house one stormy night.
I am not a cat person. I have viewed them as the insurgent enemy ever since they scratched up my superbike seat, undone an evening's polish job when they slept on my fuel tank leaving dander everywhere and indellibly peed into my helmet when I was living as a bachelor in the officers' mess, KL Base. Marking territory has never been so convincingly permanent as when you know nothing will wash that maritime odour off, and a new helmet purchase is in order.
Yet I know not what to do about a cat who does not abide by the contractual fineprint embodied in Kipling's tale about The Cat Who Walked By Himself.
Nay, this cat seeks human company, and has not a condescending bone in his body. He has shown fine manners by marking the dying quinine tree by the gate as his toilette, and seems to choose the carrier as his sleeping place without being prompted.
However, he seems to be obstinately defensive about his role as an indoor cat.
I am not a cat person, I say again. I have no reservations about rattling the coin can above legal decibular limits to signal him out the door, which he concedes to only after getting everyone into a 5-minute sprint worth his while.
So why is it I winced when I had to leave him at the vet to be spayed, holding steady as he miaowed dolefully from the wooden structure behind me as I walked away?
I know that I have no desire to latch on to a facsimile of power by stroking the lion in the cat. Therefore it is not for this reason that my mind strays to his well-being. What reason it may be has yet to dawn on me.
But I do know that I hate being a parent again in my old age, not wanting to be fettered by the neediness of a dependant creature, and reluctant as I am to yield to this contradictory cat that unabashedly greets me with a series of marmalade miaows when I come home from work, I know that it is impossible to be cruel to an animal who is aware of its connection to humanity and does nothing to deny it.
I look forward to his safe return and I hope he hasn't given up on us as he endures the long dark night without food, without a human sound, to his surgery scheduled for tomorrow.
I am NOT a cat person, I say again.