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Reincarnation   [nederlands]

A quiet Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining, the whole town is going out, on the terrace further up the street glass is clinking, people are laughing loudly. I sit among books, newspapers and magazines pretending to have a nice weekend. And maybe I really am, though alone. Very alone.
The cat comes out of her makeshift nest from time to time to give me a few heads, some food, drink, poop, and sleep again.

The tall trees behind the house filter the sun, the wind rustling through the still leafy branches. One of the crows that have been nesting here for a few years flies right past my balcony, perching in the nearest tree. He looks around. Is he looking at me? His call is like language. It sounds like 'onga', as if he is saying 'hungry' but cannot fully pronounce it. After all, he has a beak, not a mouth.


The first day after I had moved here, and all the help and loved ones had left, I had gone for a walk along the river. I had so looked forward to that: waking up, a quick wash and some food, and then my morning walk along the river. Beautiful it was. The further I walked, the more I felt like I was walking back in time. I imagined how a woman like me would have walked there 100 or 200 years ago. Simple, dark skirts, a somewhat sallow coat, scarf around the hair, probably carrying an overweight bag, or the lead burden of some temptation on her shoulders. Could she have appreciated the beauty of the landscape like I do now? Did she have time for that?
I heard rumbling behind me, and saw a looming dark sky coming my way. Quickly i walked back towards the built-up area. The thunderstorm eventually turned out to take place some distance away, and by the time I got home, the sun was shining again.

Unaccustomed to my new home, especially the mess I would have to create some order in, I shuffled among the boxes and furniture. Until I heard something on the balcony. A large crow walked sideways over the balustrade and stopped when it saw me. He looked at me, turned his head slightly at an angle and shouted 'Onga! Onga!'
I was flabbergasted. At first I thought maybe the previous residents had been feeding him. As I walked to the door, he flew away, and perched in the tree, from where he continued to watch me. I grabbed some bread, crumbled it and placed it demonstratively on the railing, and hid in the kitchen. After about 10 minutes (I had started doing other things by now), I went to check. The bread was still there. And the next morning too, so I cleaned it up.
Never again did I see him on the balcony edge, but all these years he's now in the tree behind here. Sometimes he's gone for a while. Since a week or two he's been there again, and I hear his 'Onga! Onga!'.


Years ago, I had a black cat. It had grown up with a Great Dane, and as a result had taken on a few canine traits. It was a fighter, also and especially with dogs, was extremely dominant, slept in the back neighbours' dog basket, and stole sausages through the kitchen window of the opposite neighbours. He had a talent for getting into trouble, but then always miraculously got out of it.
For instance, the time he ran with me while I was cycling into town. Only after a few streets did I notice that he was running along at breakneck speed; neatly on the pavement, by the way, because of the parked cars I hadn't see him at first.
Of course I stopped and sent him back. That didn't work, so I cycled back.
And yes, he obediently ran back with me. At the entrance to the alley, suddenly out of nowhere a big sheepdog came running after him. They both disappeared into the alley, where some commotion took place. Soon the dog came back howling: with its tail between its legs and a bleeding snout, it ran to its master.
Swiftly I cycled home, and found the tomcat in the backyard, with a considerable bite wound in his left hind leg. Fortunately, he allowed himself to be taken to the vet quite easily. The wound was cleaned (for this, he was held by two assistants wearing big, thick gloves) and bandaged. This had to be done again every few days. In between, sir lay princely on the most desirable armchair in the house. Normally there was always a fight for that spot with the other cats, but now they left him alone.

It almost went wrong once, when I left the front door open to air the place out. In no time there was a panting pitbull in the room, looking for... well, what? The smart cat was lying on the chair (which fortunately had its back to the door), in a flash I saw how he was holding his breath, so to speak. I managed to lure the dog outside. Thank God.

Another time, I had lost him. After a few days, I got slightly worried, and called the various agencies dealing with this sort of thing. After a week, they told me, a train employee called from District 5. The cat had been found in the marshalling yard, near a pile of rubbish bags. Since he was very weak, they had been able to catch him and read the address tube attached to his collar. They had decided they should just put him back on the train, at a quiet time, late in the evening. A day later, he walked into the garden. Completely emaciated, and very happy to be home again. He rubbed his tired head a thousand times against my legs, and he told me whole stories. Too bad I didn't understand them.
In the kitchen, he kept walking around me, shouting 'Onga! Onga! He only stopped when I fed him.
He has done so ever since: as soon as he was hungry, he would call out from the kitchen, where he had taken a seat in front of the cat food cupboard: "Onga! Onga!' By now he has been dead for years. Due to all his strange outside eating habits, he had contracted all kinds of ailments. In the end, he still lived to be 16.


And now the 'onga onga' crow flies around here.
Sometimes I imagine it is the cat, reincarnated and well in the tree behind the house. It wouldn't surprise me one bit. Sometimes too, I feel a cat stroking along my legs, when I am standing in the kitchen, or sitting at the dining table. There is one cat left of the whole bunch, which is now 12. But when I look behind me, there is no cat to be seen. Several times I have gone to look, she was just sleeping somewhere. Or it should be her sleeping ghost, who wants to be close to me even when she sleeps (she is a very affectionate creature).

Mostly I think it's the black dog cat. In the tree. On the balcony edge. The invisible one in the kitchen or at the table. So every now and then I think whether it would be possible, reincarnation. It all seems so illogical to me. Would there be a connection between yourself and what you reincarnate into? What are the rules? I don't know them. But that won't stop the karma police.

It is Sunday afternoon. It's not raining (yet). I take a stroll along the river. On the shady side, men go into the mosque. Somewhere further down the road, people might go to a church service. And I walk musing a bit about past, present, future. What would I most like to become when I am dead?

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DateTime: 2023 feb 10, 17:03 CET
Auteur: Mulder


 Characters:Dog cat 

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