One of these days
Some may think I’m living a peaceful tranquil life up here. That is often so but not last week from end of the vassa until yesterday.
A while ago A. D. decided to spent the next months studying Abhidhamma in Chiang Mai. In preparation for departure and to join some ceremonies called salakapat, he was gone often at the end of the vassa and so I had to care for the 2 monastery dogs, A.D.’s 3 kittens in his absence. I too had to leave the monastery to go to Chiang Mai to get the visa extension which unfortunately is due most times during the vassa. That was quite some hussle but I got it. Then I went to Ajahn Tongs 91st birthday. Another story. During my absence A.D. took care of all.
One kitten had caught a disease and although I tried to do intensive care and A. D. brought antibiotics the kitten died although it seemed to get better. The other two kittens had diareah whle A. D. was gone, short before the end of the vassa. Originally I had intended to give the vihara a thorough cleanup before the ceremony that markes the end of the rains reatreat, vassa. In reality I was much more cleaning persian kitten’s bums. You have to do the bum rinse straight after they drop their diarreah for several reasons, first, because they surely come to the veranda and sit there with their dirty bums, secondly because the excrement dries in quickly in the long hair and then it is very difficult to get it out and thirdly when they see you they come and rub against your legs… and of course because a little kitten with diareah stinks enormous. So that meant to be after the kittens. And also I had to be after the dogs because they would go where the kittens defecated and wanted to eat the droppings. The kitten food must have a lot of nutriments that the dogs were so keen on the excrement.
The villagers came two days before the ceremony to cut grass and herbs on the monastery ground with their motor trimmers. The animals were terrified and either escaped into the bushes or wanted to come inside the kuti, meowing or queeking. For me was left to sweep the grounds and pile cut of braches, leaves etc.
The vihara cleanup therefore was cut a bit short but between washing blankets that had been sullied by cat’s diarreah, sweeping, bum rinsing and so on I could prepare the vihara for the ceremony well enough.
A.D. came back the day before the ceremony and brought a farewell gift for me. A cat. I had said that I like one, a Siamese. I didn’t really think he would bring one but it so happend that he went to his sponsors birthday and they, living in a monastery, breed siamese cats. This particular one was very small although already two years old. As kitten it had been maltreated by a monk so it hated monks. A. D., on his way back to Kun Pang stopped at a monastery for ceremonies around the area and the cat, terrified by the unknown monks and chased by dogs ran away. When they, A. D. And the cat finally arrived here, the cat was sick. I saw it, a beautiful small creature, beige with brown tips, and although I am not a specialist in cats, I instantly thought that it will die. It seemed to have caught the same disease as the other kitten which had died just a week or two earlier.
The nose was blocked and and the eyes sour and full of pus. Almost every hour I cleand the eyes and the nose and drippled some water in the cats mouth. There was some life and some will for life in the little one, but not much. Enough to reject food, that I tried to give, enough to spit out milk and to creep back in the box that I had prepared. For two days it drank and slept under a blaket, it could not keep itself warm and got annoyed when I interrupted the sleep to wipe off nose and eyes and give some water. Probably the best would have been to just let it die from dehydration which would have happend quickly without my interferance. But instead I learned to grind tinned fish and mix it with with milk and water. A. D. had kindly left some fish and some milk for the cat. With the detremination not to let the cat die I wiped and fed regularly but had no medication to give nor the possibility to get some. On the fourth day I thought it is getting better. On the fiths days the cat died short after I had rushed to eat something before it would be too late, I ate, rushed back and took the cat on my laps. We sat together. The cat had been kind of paralised in the morning, it could not move the eyelids , earlier it had often kind of held my hand by softly but firmly putting its claws of the front paw around my thumb, in the morning I could feel the intention of the cat to do it but there was no more power to get the claws out. The feet started to get cold although I keept the cat warm but It had swallowed all water with groung fish that I had drippled into its mouth the whole morning. It made sounds of relief when I wetted the eyes. Then, at about noon, when I sat there with the cat on my laps it was clear that it would not survive, it was already closer to death than to life. Not long after, it started to have spasms. It vomited out everything that I had given. The heart was still beating, in the fingertips I could sense the quick flat pulse beating but the breath got slower. I gave soft hits on the back which triggert some breaths. Then the little body reliesed of the urin and breated its last breath.
Among all the kammic neutral or unwholesome thoughts that I noticed in my mind thoughout thr cat’s dying process, there was one moment, when the cat vomited and urinated all over me, that was striking. Instead of anger and disgust as I would have assumed there would be, I noticed that there was, in rudiments, as an idea of comprehension, ease and peace born of love and compassion. Love, compassion and ease with whatever comes is the natural response to suffering when the mind is not obstructed by defilements.
After the cat had done its last breath, I had a short uproar and outcry of dispair. Among many thought moments of ‘I have to bur the corpse’, ‘ I must boil my robes’, ‘the breeder who gave the cat will be upset’, ‘I knew it would die’, etc. I also noticed that the sadness that I could not keept the little cat alife, was a result of my own fear of death. Will I have spasms, vomit and urinate at the moment of death? Did my father who died alone? (Autopsy said he died peacefully in his sleep) Will my mom? Will I be able to bear to be so close to death with my mum or my uncle?
The aggregate of form is limited, in is abilities and in durability, very limited and very fragile.
In the evening I burned the dead corpse so that the dogs would not eat it.
During those days one of the dogs developped a skin desease which causes the hair to fall out. Fortunately one of the villagers had an injection for that desease which is very common here at home and came after the ceremony to give the injection. Today both dogs are not eating. May they be well.