Then, onwards to the patio....
Everyone, including Mr Zurik and Heidi were waiting for me. The moment I opened the patio door, Heidi walked straight in and marched into the kitchen for her "porridge meal". The matriarch is a diva.
Mr Zurik is very smart; now he jumps onto the top (roof) of the cage and demands to be fed there (so that I won't get to feed him in the cage and he gets caged as a result of it). If Willy is not around anymore, there is really no need to cage Mr Zurik anymore because the whole purpose was to prevent him from going out to scare and bully Willy.
Then, with hope and bated breath, I took the keys and opened the gate...
....armed with Willy's ID kibbles.
I've been thinking positively, visualising Willy waiting for me at the embankment, as he has been doing for the past 7-8 months.
But no, Willy wasn't there.
The whole playground was totally clear.
This is where Willy would be if he was too scared of Mr Zurik.
Or he would sit on these steps.
No, Willy is not here.
I walked down the road towards Willy's "house".
I only saw this cat.
I checked the drains as I walked, even the dustbins in the playground. I called out his name. I checked the trees as well. There was no sign of Willy anywhere.
I went down to speak with the chief security guard who was making his rounds on his motorbike. This time, I got to ask a bit more. I asked if "Willy's owner" had come back on Saturday as I know sometimes they make a trip back. The chief guard said he did not think so, but then he told me "Willy's owner" does NOT have any cats at all. Cats just wander into his house. He is such a busy man, he has no time to rear cats, the guard said, and he works out of the state. He doesn't live here though he has workers looking after the house and as far a the guard knows, these workers are not feeding any cats. However, the next door neighbour to this "Willy's owner's house" do keep cats and he noticed they have an orange cat.
So I plucked up courage and went to ring the doorbell of this other house. An elderly lady came to the door and she merely shook her head when I asked if they have seen an orange cat. She didn't seem keen on answering anymore questions, so I thanked her and left. Can't blame her. It pays to be extra careful these days with such high incidence of robbery.
I checked the playground again. There was only this white cat at the pavilion.
I met one of the walkers who has seen me feeding Willy whenever she passes every day. I asked if she had seen Willy and she too remarked that Willy had been missing for "a few days". Then she proceeded to say this is why she doesn't feel like looking after animals; when they go missing, you'd be so heartsick, she said. I smiled and walked away. I didn't want to hear anymore of what she was going to say because I know where the conversation would go.
This is, unfortunately, a common reaction (even from rescuers who claim to be kind to animals) whenever these kind of things happen: Lose one animal, and they cry foul, and say they will stop their rescue work or worse, regret that they had even rescued that animal in the first place.
I have lost animals too, on the road, gone missing, but I do not, for a moment, regret looking after them or having rescued them, even if it is only for a few days.
The pessimist sees that one negative experience, blows it up and forgets all the positive experiences. Why does one want to live life like this and make oneself miserable?
Even IF the animal dies, death is only a moment, what about the many, many hours, days or weeks of happiness and caring we have given to the animal? Doesn't that count? Why let that one negative moment destroy and negate all the happiness we have shared with our rescues?
Put yourself in the place of the rescued animal, I'm sure the animal doesn't regret having been rescued. See? This is where empathy helps. Let's not just think of our own sadness and misery, think of how much good we have done for the animal. I'm sure the animal had been happy. So hasn't it been worthwhile saving the animal then?
Life is about moments. That's all we've got. Make the best of each and come what may, you will have no regrets. We cannot foresee the future and nothing is permanent. Life is uncertain and many things are beyond our control.
Go all out and save the animal, by all means please do, but don't turn around and start regretting when things don't work out exactly the way we want it to. Hey, we're not Superman, there are many, many things beyond our control.
So, I walked away from the pessimist as she continued to mumble to her friend, and continued my search for Willy.
I couldn't find him anywhere.
As I walked back to our house...
...Vincent was waiting for me at the gate, doing a Happy Days pose.
By now, Mr Zurik had already gone home, after a second round of food which I gave him at Willy's post, using Willy's bowl.
Maybe it's time to bring Willy's bowls back into the house now. I can always bring them back out when and if I see him again.
Ginger is also waiting for me at the door.
He doesn't go home anymore these days.
Timmy...cleaning up the bowls.
Willy's Happy Bum Gel will be a sweet memory and it will benefit other cats now.
The new Vetri DMG I just bought for Willy on Saturday, the very day he was last fed by us. It's still not opened.
What's left of his ID kibbles.
I was going to feed him ID for sometime since I noticed his anus was stained. The vet said that would be a good idea. In fact, today is Willy's scheduled first vaccination, actually. It's exactly 2 weeks after his neutering and his V-notch had healed beautifully.
Cow and Indy are waiting for me at the grille.
In fact, as always (he has never even once failed me), Cow came to comfort me yesterday. He rubbed his chin all over my thigh and told me he knows I was feeling sad. Cow is always the first to know. He is a very sensitive cat.
Cleo and Pole. They are more aloof.
Bunny Bun Buns.
And Tabs, of course.
So yesterday, I was reflecting on how glad I was that I had never even once neglected Willy throughout his entire "stay" with us. When Mr Zurik bullied him, I stayed with him while he ate, for every meal. When he was sick, I took him to the vet and nursed him back to health. So, I have no regrets at all. I have spent the moments I had with him wisely and as compassionately as I possibly could. What more can I ask for. Life is uncertain and nothing is permanent.
I didn't even realise I had been looking after Willy for 7-8 months now until I searched for his photos in the blog. That's quite a long time.
Whatever we have to do, let's do it now. Never ever say, "I'll do it later", because "later" might never come.
"Cherishing whatever time you have with your loved ones" is not a cliche. It's something that we must put into practice every day, every moment, because moments are all we have.
Make them count.
Be safe, Willy. Good health and happiness to you, always.