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I live with five cats which is strange because I never cared for cats as a kid.

Irving, the first cat to live with me, was left behind by a fellow who lived with me for a few weeks. When he came in he said the cat was the most important being in his life.

When Irving died I saw a flyer on the street for a cat. I answered it. I got an albino cat and a Siamese I named Irving. The albino vanished but the Siamese was to be Lord of The House for the rest of her life.

She was joined by a beautiful alley cat kitten, Asker (“What’s her name? ” “Asker.”) and her daughter,”Asker, too.” Both died early of feline aids.

Dante Abug brought his cats with him when he came to live here. One of them was a small black cat I fell in love with at once. After the Siamese died I named this fellow Irving.

Then came Berlin who was born here followed by Askhim (“What’s his name?” “Ask him.”).

Berlin died in my arms St. Patrick’s Day 2017.

After Berlin’s death my other two cats Irving and Askhim were deeply troubled.

I had an invitation to go to Montreal for a week which I really wanted to do but I had no one to care for my cats. I decided that it was more important to stay with them.

That night Berlin and Askhim came up to me when I went to sleep. For the first time since Berlin’s death they slept. They knew they were safe. They knew they came first.

I posted a notice of Berlin’s death on Kijii adding that I had a vacancy.

As a result I got three cats. Steven and her son boss came from a mother whose baby had a rash because of the cats. Steven took a long time deciding this is a good place to be. Boss adjusted faster.

Then came Zorro.

Zorro is a Maine cat. He looks a lot like Berlin but bigger. Zorro was not happy when he came here. He bit, clawed, scratched everyone, His fur was matted. He was a mess.

I took him to a groomer who told me she had met only one cat she could not groom. I left him with her. When I got home the phone rang. She said, “I met the second one.”

She suggested I have a vet sedate him and shave him.

I decided against that.

It was very hard to do but I groomed him myself.

My hand puffed up from his bites. I had to take medication.

The third time Zorro bit me I said to him softly, “You know, it is okay.”

I had thought Zorro would take forever to come around. In that moment however he experienced a complete change of heart for the better.

Now Zorro spends every moment as near me as he can.

He was unhappy when he came here. Now he is very happy.

He got a lump on his tail about a year ago.

Money is tight. I owed me vet $500.00. He said he could not remove the lump without first being paid.

There were a lot of reasons why I could not pay that bill.

There was one reason why I had to.

The bill was paid. A further $600.00 was paid to remove the lump and to get a biopsy done.

For ten days Zorro had to wear a cone on his head. Finally the cone came off. The vet came by to remove the stitches. He said the biopsy showed that the lump was benign.

There are those who question the money we spend on our furry cat and dog friends.

Let them.

Like Yudhishthira, the hero of The Mahabharata, I am not going to turn my back on any being who  places their trust in me.

Mahaprasthanika parva, Chapter 3:

I never give up a person that is terrified,
nor one that is devoted to me,
nor one that seeks my protection,
nor one who is afflicted or destitute,
nor one that is weak in protecting oneself,
I shall never give up such a one till my own life is at an end.

— Yudhishthira, Mahaprasthanika Parva, Mahabharata Book xvii.3[10]

From The Mahabharata:

“Shakuni, Duryodhana’s uncle, now arranges a dice game, playing against Yudhishthira with loaded dice. In the dice game, Yudhishthira loses all his wealth, then his kingdom. Yudhishthira then gambles his brothers, himself, and finally his wife into servitude. The jubilant Kauravas insult the Pandavas in their helpless state and even try to disrobe Draupadi in front of the entire court, but Draupadi’s disrobe is prevented by Krishna, who miraculously make her dress endless, therefore it couldn’t be removed.”

The Pandavas allow themselves to be cheated in the hope that the Kauravas will realize what they are doing is wrong and have a change of heart for the better.

The Kauravas think the Pandavas are foolish.

King Yudhishthira crowns Parikshit as the king of Hastinapur, in care of Yuyutsu. In Indraprastha, Yadava prince Vajra is crowned as the king. Then they start their journey of India and the Himalayas.

As the Pandavas leave, a dog befriends them and they take him along for the journey. The Pandavas first go south, reaching the salt sea.[1] At the coast of the salt sea, deity Agni appears and asks Arjuna to return his bow. Agni says that this bow was given to him by the gods to fight the evil on earth. Now, that purpose has been served and so Arjuna should return the bow back to the gods. Arjuna returns his bow. They turn southwest visiting sites along the way. Thereafter, they head west to see Dwaraka. They see it submerged under the sea, as described by Arjuna in Mausala Parva. The sight of a beautiful city submerged and dead, makes them depressed. They turn north, stop at Rishikesh, then cross the Himalayas.[1]

God Indra offers Yudhishthira to jump into his chariot to enter heaven, but without the dog. Yudhishthira refuses because he claims he cannot betray and abandon his friend, the dog.

As they cross the Himalayas, Draupadi is the first person to die. Bhima asks Yudhishthira why Draupadi died early and couldn’t continue the journey to heaven. Yudhishthira claims that Draupadi suffered from the vice of partiality, in her affections for Arjuna. The remaining Pandavas continue their journey. Next, Sahadeva dies on the way. Yudhishthira explains Sahadeva like his other brothers was virtuous in every respect, except he suffered from the vice of pride and vanity, thought none was equal to him in wisdom. The brothers continue on their way to Mount Meru. Nakula dies next. Yudhishthira explains that Nakula also suffered from the vice of pride and vanity, thinking he was the most handsome person in the world. Arjuna is the next person to die without completing the journey. Yudhishthira explains to Bhima, Arjuna too suffered from the vice of pride and vanity, thinking he was the most skilled, most powerful warrior in the world. Yudhishthira, Bhima and the dog continue forward.[2]

Bhima tires and falls down. He asks his elder brother why he, Bhima, is unable to complete the journey to heaven. Yudhishthira explains his brother’s vice of gluttony, who used to eat too much without thinking about the hunger of others.[9]

Yudhishthira and the dog continue their journey. In Chapter 3 of Mahaprasthanika Parva, as the dog and Yudhishthira continue their walk up Mount Meru,[2] Indra appears with his chariot, suggesting he doesn’t need to walk all the way, he can jump in and together they can go to heaven. Yudhishthira refuses, says he could not go to heaven with Indra without his brothers and Draupadi. Indra tells Yudhishthira, all of them after their death, entered heaven. Yudhishthira asks if his friend, the dog, can jump into the chariot first. Indra replies dogs cannot enter his chariot, only Yudhishthira can. Yudhishthira refuses to leave the dog. He claims the dog is his friend, and for him to betray his friend during his life’s journey would be a great sin. Indra urges him to consider his own happiness, abandon the dog and hop into the chariot. Yudhishthira refuses to go into the chariot, explaining he cannot abandon the dog who is his companion, for his own happiness, while he is alive. The dog, watching Yudhishthira’s commitment for his friend, transforms and reappears as deity Dharma. The deity Dharma then praises Yudhishthira for his virtues. Yudhishthira enters heaven on Indra’s chariot.[1]

31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.

32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

36 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.

37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee?

39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?

40 And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

42 For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink.

43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.

44 Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?

45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

One hot summer day while having a beer with a friend on my porch I saw a fellow go by who looked like he was dying of thirst. I said to him, ‘you look like you are dying of thirst.’

He said, “I am.”

I said, “Go into the kitchen and get yourself some water.”

He wound up living here for three months.

This, not parking my ass on a church pew once a week, is how I practice my faith.

Another fellow who came here said, “I’d like to live here.”

He was from India.

What a gift he was!

I love welcoming strangers into my life.–Reg Hartt 2019–10–29.

Aditya Shankar, The Face Of Gay Youth, India, asked if he could live with me. That was a wonderful year.

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