Hello, Kitty!

Hiya, Kitty! (Image: Pinterest)

WHEN I think of strays, I think of quiet back alleys, trash cans, dumpsters, lurking rats and scary cats. So when I found a stray kitten the other day at the neighborhood playground, I thought, “How strange!”

I was strolling home from a quick errand to 7-Eleven before dinner, picking up a bottle of milk and a box of Magnum, an occasional treat I always stash at the back of the freezer so my mother would never discover it.

As I was approaching the playground next to the block where I live, I thought I saw a gray blob just under the bottom of the slide. The closer I got, I realized the grey blob was a moving thing. I walked right up to the slide, squatting low and poking my head to check it out. True enough, as I had guessed, it was a little gray kitten.

It looked at me with eyes that spoke of fear and self-pity. My heart grew soft as it tends to whenever I behold anything cute. Cute dog, cute bear, cute rabbit, cute panda, cute pig. Right now, it was none of the above, just a real kitten, a cute, soft-furred kitty.

“Hello, Kitty!” I cooed.

“Hello, Kitty Cat!” I said again, this time, almost breaking out in song.

For a moment, I thought Kitty’s eyes grew rounder and larger as if to tell me, “Hey, I think you’re nice!” I did feel nice. In fact, that was the only thing I felt just looking at Kitty. I stretched my hand out, softly murmuring: “Hey, Kitty! Come on out, Kitty!”

Slowly and cautiously, Kitty emerged from under the slide and poked her tiny damp nose at my fingers. My heart almost broke at the thought of this sweet, vulnerable thing with her mother nowhere in sight. Kitty just felt like a girl cat more than a boy cat.

I tickled her cheek a little, then under her chin, and cupped my palm over her soft, furry head, while devising a plan. I wanted to have her, but I knew I couldn’t. My father wouldn’t have it, not least my mother. I scooped Kitty up with my right hand, careful that she didn’t come in contact with the shopping bag of cold milk and ice-cold Magnum in my other hand.

I rehearsed my lines in the lift on the way up to the 19th floor—the ones I was going to break to my mother and father. It was a wonderful plan to save Kitty. Just send her off to Auntie Lucy, my mother’s elder sister. Surely, Auntie Lucy could take in one more kitten. What’s one more to her feline family of five?

I couldn’t imagine her saying no. My mother loved the idea, and my father nodded in agreement. But on one condition: Kitty was not going to sleep with me for the night, she was going to be tucked away safely in a cold, brown, ugly carton. I winced at the thought, and offered to make Kitty a nice, snug bed out of my beach towel.

Just before bedtime, I took one last peek into Kitty’s new home by the coffee table. She looked up at me with the same round eyes, her head cocked a little to the right. I felt so warm in the heart I just broke into a smile.

“Good night, Kitty!”

“Off to bed now!” said my father. “By the way, that Magnum was really good, the chocolate almond one.”

(588 words)


Chia Xin Yu, Primary Five
September 2017

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.

This essay was written in response to three pictures: (1) an empty carton, (2) a playground, (3) a gray kitten.


Panda the Dog

Panda the Dog (Image: thehappypuppysite.com)

BOON Leong comes from a family of dog lovers. He can’t remember when, in his life, he has never not had a dog. Today, at forty-two, he is proud to have had five dogs in his lifetime: Kingsfield the silky terrier, Pericles the Alsatian, Mochi the Shih Tzu and her Pomeranian buddy Bubbles, and Wei Wei the Labrador Retriever, named after the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei.

All of them have since passed on. His present and latest canine friend is a French bulldog with great black Panda patches on his body and eyes, like a cool mask fit for a Halloween party. His name is Panda.

Dogs don’t really get to attend Halloween parties for a dose of fun, pretend horror. Sometimes, however, their Halloween could be as real as can be, filled with the real deal, not fun, pretend horror. It sneaked up on Panda one evening just as he and his master were making a turn around the condominium swimming pool back to their home.

A bull terrier came ambling along with his mistress trailing further behind, its leash loose and long. The lady’s arms were swinging vigorously back and forth, the leash switching from the left hand to the right, left to right—she wasn’t so much walking her dog as working in some upper body exercise and toning her flabby arms.

Grrrrr! Rrrrrr! Ow, wow! Grrrowl!

The poolside suddenly burst with the throaty violence of the two dogs, rattling the neighborhood. Some of the residents around the pool poked their heads out at their windows, horrified by what they saw. The bull terrier pounced on Panda, Panda pawed back aggressively. Fangs and teeth were on display, desperately out to bite at something. For a moment, both dogs were on their hind legs, freeing up their front paws to spar and slash and draw blood. Like deadly blades, the bull terrier’s unclipped claws went lashing out at Panda’s face and snout.

The lady pulled and tugged at her dog, commanding restraint, but somehow she couldn’t seem to quell her terrier’s terror. Fumbling with the leash, she tried to reel it in, but she herself was in a state of panic. The leash cartridge just didn’t seem to cooperate.

Boon Leong, angry and exasperated, shouted: “Stop your dog! For goodness sake, stop him!” He, too, was tugging at Panda as if he were pulling at the rein of a galloping horse, but the terrier just kept coming at Panda, not letting up even for a second.

In a matter of two minutes, the dogs had worked up quite a bit of mutual damage, though Panda incurred more cuts, even a bruised eye, on account of his smaller size. It didn’t help that the terrier had long been due for a manicure.

Boon Leong was so upset, he scolded the woman: “I can’t believe you don’t know how to take care of your dog, your crazy wild dog.”

“You also,” she screamed. “Why your stupid dog has to walk right in our path?”

The dogs quarreled too with low growls and fiery eyes as their necks strained forward into their collars, giving their growls a menacing, vibrato quality. No one sued each other. They just sent their dogs to the vet, Boon Leong making sure he didn’t step into the same one as that flabby-armed lady.

(560 words)


Chia Xin Yu, Primary Five
August 2017

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.

This essay was written in response to the theme, “A Distressed Animal” and two pictures: (1) a man looking shocked, and (2) a dog with black patches on its body and a bandage over one of its eyes

Mirrors Are Made For Preening

Preening ain’t girlie, it’s vital (Image: istockphoto by Getty Images)

ACCIDENTS can happen at home anytime. You could drop an egg on the floor, or boil over your porridge. Once, I tried warming fridge-hard chocolate in a microwave for slightly over a minute only to realize too late that it had exploded. Then there are those types of accidents that involve broken glasses. These are the nastiest and the meanest, especially when they come from smashed mirrors.

I used to have a full-length standing mirror in my bedroom, but not anymore. Sometime last year, it shattered to bits, my favorite mirror, the one with a stylish contemporary white frame—all thanks to Miss Klutz.

It happened on a Sunday morning after a pancake breakfast. I was in my bedroom preening, brushing and braiding my hair. “It’s Sunday,” I thought, “why don’t I wear a pretty bow on my hair, that red one Auntie Germaine got me?” I fingered through my box of hair clips, ribbons and such, which sits on my chest of drawers, on the far right corner beside my wooden coin bowl.

Dig, dig, dig, where is that bow? I tipped the box over, and as I spread all my accessories across the bureau top in search of it, I pushed my coin bowl to the corner, a little bit too aggressively that it tipped right over.

What a jingling mess! The coins made tinkling noises even as they rolled everywhere, under the bed, across the room, between my feet, and right behind my standing mirror edged up close to the corner wall, just by the bureau.

I got down on all fours picking up the coins, and with the help of a broom, I swept out the coins from under the bed, but when it came to those behind the mirror, the broom was of little help. I squeezed my way in, without thinking that I could well have pulled the mirror out. I curled myself into a ball, squatted awkwardly, and picked the coins up one by one. Easy!

But the moment I stood up, my shoulder bumped into the back of the mirror. As if in protest, it decided to topple backwards, face down. I held my breath. Too late!

Crash came the shards of glass! This time, the broom would come in handy for something else. Miss Klutz had become a cry baby, even though she hadn’t suffered a cut at all. It was too awful, her favorite mirror all smashed up. And when her parents stood at the room door, she bawled even harder.

“Don’t you move,” said my father.

“Stay there,” said my mother, who tiptoed into the room to pick up the broom.

When the mess was cleared, and a proper goodbye was said to my mirror, my parents said, “OK, no more standing mirror for you.” From that day on, I had to preen in my bathroom, and for some strange reason, I never ever wore that bow Auntie Germaine gave me again.

(495 words)


Chia Xin Yu, Primary Five
July 2017

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.

This essay was written in response to three boxed pictures, of which Xin Yu chose the one featuring a broken mirror.

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