Saturday, February 17, 2007

Muning: a love story

Here's a story written by my bunso, Alina, when she was a seventh-grader and which won the grand prize in the RCBC Kuwentong Kalikasan ng Kabataan competition sometime in the late 1990s.

It was summer when Muning entered our lives. Our team just won a game of kickball, and we rested on a stump on a vacant lot behind our house. As the sky darkened, we watched the first stars appear. Then we heard it -- "Meow."

Big blue eyes on a black and white face peered at us from behind the aratilis tree. I'll never forget how it looked when it went near -- half frightened, half eager. It licked my hands as I bent to touch it. I nodded when my Ate Mayet said: "Let's take it home."

Mama, who didn't like pets at home, but always gave in when we begged, didn't say much when we she saw Muning. She merely said: "If you want it, you have to take care of it." She reminded us that Aling Nelly, our helper, had enough to do as it was. We promised, crossing our hearts. None of our four brothers gave Muning a second look. The new found pet was all ours -- Ate Mayet's and mine.

We spent the next weeks fussing over Muning. At first, it was a cuddly kind of play -- we stroke her and she licked us. She twisted herself like a snake when she wanted play. She pressed her body against our legs when she wanted cuddling. But soon Muning tired of that and wanted rough and tumble. She got into the habit of leaping at us when we were unaware. Maybe her kitten claws got itchy and she relieved it by scratching furniture. Maybe her teeth got itchy too and she took to biting us a little. She was just being playful but sometimes her games hurt.

One day, she bit me harder than she intended to. I took my finger to Mama for inspection. "There's no wound but Muning should behave," Mama said sharply, looking at the torn sofa.

Ate Mayet wanted to take Muning to a cat psychiatrist. In the States, there were doctors for neurotic cats, she said. She searched the Yellow Pages and asked all our titas. But no one knew of one.

Summer was about to end the day we lost Muning.

I was in bed with my stuffed dog. Suddenly, a jealous Muning jumped at us and scratched Snoopy, causing foam bits to fly. I boxed Muning's ear and she scratched my face. Her claws almost caught my right eye. My cries brought Mama running into the room.

The mixture of tears and blood on my face scared Mama. "I want Muning out of this house this minute." She shouted orders to Kuya Allan. He was to put Muning inside a big bag and take her somewhere far from home. I wanted to protest but my face was on fire with the medicine Mama applied.

When Ate came home and found Muning gone, she cried and cried. She blamed me, she blamed Mama, blamed Kuya Allan, blamed the Philippines for not having cat psychiatrists. I cried too. Some of my tears were for Muning, others were for my sad and angry sister who vowed never to talk to me again. That night, we both cried ourselves to sleep.

As my wound healed, I forgot Muning. But Ate Mayet couldn't. She was quiet and sad for days. She ate little and talked less.

Mama worried. One day, she took me aside, whispering: "You know I might have acted too fast about Muning."

That night, at the special request portion" of our family prayer, Mama said aloud: "Lord if Muning would not hurt my children again, please let us find her again."

I was thankful when school opened and Ate began to talk to me again. One afternoon, on our way home, I glanced outside the bus and saw blue eyes among green grass. "Is that Muning," I asked doubtfully. "Yes, yes!" said Ate. "Stop, please stop Mang Roger!" she called out to the driver. But Mang Roger drove on.

Reaching home, we dumped our things and went out again, pulling Aling Nelly with us. We searched the place where we thought we saw Muning but couldn't find her.

We looked some more. In an alley, three boys cheered as they dunked an object into a canal, as it wriggled and meowed. Muning! -- we cried. Aling Nelly shooed the boys away.

Muning was cleaned up and fed when Mama arrived home from work. She smiled when we told her what happened. "God answered our prayers, didn't He?"

I guess her bad experience cured Muning. She became a normal cat. Today, she is a good and gentle Mama to four kittens. And you know what, we also have two dogs, seven hamsters, eight ducks and 14 pigeons. Our cousins call our yard a mini zoo and they always come to visit. Mama still doesn't like pets but she loves it when children care for and enjoy them.

I call it a love story -- do you agree? And do you see how such love has blessed the beasts and the children -- and their moms too?


houseband00 said...

It is a love story, Anna.

A sweet one. =)

Pining said...

What a heart warming story, no wonder she bagged the prize!
Great story, I love it :-)

Leah said...

What an endearing story. Alina wrote well at grade 7. I dont think I knew some of those words at that age. Guess, she gets the writing skills from you.

I remember having a family cat named Muning as well. This story definitely brought back some good memories.

Is Muning still happy on this earth?

Noemi said...

Our two cats are very much a part of our family. We talk to them, bring them to the vet. They have personalities of their own. Soon we will have a dog. You have so many pets. How do you manage?

Toe said...

What a talented daughter you have Annamanila. That really is a beautiful story.

dimaks said...

touching story and well written.. mana sa mommy :)

sexy mom said...

it's a touching story of growing up, love and faith in the Lord, who answers our prayers,in His own time. you have a very talented daughter, Anna!

vernaloo said...

Oh I just came from Belle's site and she was also talking about their pet bird Mango :)

Anna your daughter is a very good writer..runs in the blood huh :)

They say that when a person is kind to animals, that person is really a kind-hearted person. (naliligo sa term na "person" ang sentence ko hehe)

When we were little, everytime we have a cat, we name it "Miming" so lahat ng pusa namin Miming ang pangalan. Now may pusa na naman doon na bago (great great apo na siguro ng original na Miming) expected Miming pa rin ang pangalan hehe

nao said...

Wow, you have a writer-in-the-making here! Just give ALINA the kind of love and support she needed to boost up her talents. Kids adopt self-reliance first thing through interpersonal ties with their moms. I bet you inspired her a lot. Good job!

annamanila said...

Thanks, all of you blogbuddies, for reading and enjoying Alina's story.

You think she got her writing genes from me? Ah, let me tell you a quick story:

When she was a HS freshman, she was writing this story for another competition and asked me to go over it for grammar. I did but somehow gor carried away -- as is my wont when I am editing. I even changed the plot and characters. When she saw the corrected manuscript, she was ballistic and cried'mommy this is not my story.' She was very angry as I overwrote her story with mine -- meaning I deleted the original from the computer file. As tears flowed, she started from scratch, following her own plot.

A month later, when I came home from work, she pinned a medal on me. She won the contest and omg, I couldn't even say she would have won bigger if she let me help her. Eh she won gold again. :)

Another bringing up mother story?!

kate said...

blaming the philippines for not having cat psychiatrists? really sounds a lot like something she would really say. hehe :)what can i say, like mom, like daughter ;)

Toe said...

Ahahaha... that's another great story Annamanila. :) Writers, like other artists, are very sensitive no. I think it's because they really give their soul to their work. I like Alina a lot. :)

annamanila said...

Kate! Yup, ganun ka-grabe ang dalawang 'yan. Where in the Philippines?!

annamanila said...

Toe, thanks for coming back to hear that follow-up story. Yup, Alina is a lovable brat.

Verns, we also have -- at various times, Muning 2 and 3, Kuting 1 and 2, Kuts, Meoow, and Mew. O di ba -- panalo!!

kathy said...

You have a writer-in-the-making indeed! I can see why this piece won the grand prize. It is well-written, and has a very touching story.
I can relate to this story as well. We also used to have "puskal" (pusang kalye) in the house. My mom hated them, and not once showed affection towards them, but she allowed us to keep them outside the house. I loved those cats. I even cried for one of them when she got hit by a tricycle.

Abaniko said...

A seventh grader and she wrote damn well. She deserved the prize, no doubt. I was like reading a story book. Very engaging account of a cat pet. Galeng.

Abaniko said...

A seventh grader and she wrote damn well. She deserved the prize, no doubt. I was like reading a story book. Very engaging account of a cat pet. Galeng.

annamanila said...

Kathy! One of our current cats got hit recently (anak ko pa naman ang nakasagasa while parking the car). Thought we'd just put her to sleep. But after an x'ray, the vet doc at UP Diliman (hey, mura lang duon, ang gagaling pa nila -- take your sick/injured pets there) said, after taking an x'ray that Muning 3 will self-heal. She's fixing well now. :)

annamanila said...


Thanks -- nakakataba ng puso ang papuri sa bunso ko. She writes and produces commercials now -- after a stint with GMA7.

May I link you? I will, thank you, even without your sayso. :)

Abaniko said...

I'm sure she has a long way to go when it comes to writing. I feel she's gonna be VERY successful someday. I can feel it. Good luck to your bunso. :)

Link away, Annamanila. Me? I have long since linked you up in my blog. Hehe. Thanks.

Gina said...

"Bless the beasts & the children.." Whenever I hear that Carpenter song,I feel every word in it & feel like crying.
This is a heartwarming love story indeed worthy of Chicken Soup for Pet owners' Soul (is there one?)

Tell Alina, she is a gifted writer. Her story touched my heart. I love animals specially cats & dogs ,and it pains me when I see people being cruel to them. I was so happy when I read the ending of the story.

Hey, I read your poem Sunsets. Beautiful. I will come back for some more reading. I see that you have another blogsite for your poems.

Prab said...

I found a computer at the office that isn't under surf control. Nyahahah!

*evil laughter*

Hmm.. I would think that a grown up or at least an older person wrote the story. It's a very interesting and well written piece. No doubt well deserving of the prize. Uuuy. May pinagmanahan yata. ;)

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