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Father and the cat

Posted May. 17, 2023 07:54,   

Updated May. 17, 2023 07:54


On one particular day during his early years in elementary school, the son was sitting on the back of the bike his father was pedaling, holding a box with a cat inside. The father and the son were traveling to the beach, about 2 kilometers away from their house, to abandon the cat. People were not so critical of abandoning a cat in the mid-20th century. The son cannot recall why they had to remove the cat. Maybe, the father could not afford to care for the expectant mother cat and her impending kittens. They returned home only to be greeted by the same cat they had bid farewell to earlier. The cat had obviously outpaced the duo.

The son looked at his father's face. What began as a bewildered stare transformed into deep admiration and, ultimately, a sense of relief. From that moment forward, the cat became a cherished member of their household. This poignant tale is the opening story in Haruki Murakami's "Abandoning a Cat," a tribute to his father's memory. Throughout his life, Murakami had always shared his home with feline companions, and as an only child, these cats became his best friends.

As the author delves into the account of the cat's unexpected return, a revelation strikes him: the abandonment experienced by his own father at the hands of the author's grandfather. The author reflects on a bygone era when destitute individuals were compelled to give up their children, either through adoption or by entrusting them to temples for their upbringing. The author's grandfather decided to send his son to a temple, where he would be raised as a child monk. Yet, the father eventually found his way back home, remaining with the family. However, the tumultuous experience left him with a big emotional scar.

Regrettably, Haruki's relationship with his father was quite rocky. For reasons the author refused to fully articulate, Haruki had not seen his father for nearly two decades, an estrangement that displays the depth of pain. However, amidst the complexities of their fractured relationship, a remarkable and enigmatic episode emerged—their joint venture to abandon a cat, an endeavor that ultimately eluded their grasp. These recollections of the father the author shares with readers evoke both a sense of deep affection and a gentle resonating ache.