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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Pets are members of the family. Tan Dinh, Saigon:Vietnam memories 1965 1975

Pets are members of the family. Tan Dinh, Saigon

It must have been about eleven when we switched the TV off and the house was enveloped in silence. The curfew having come into force hours earlier the ever present sound of revved up Hondas was absent.

It was too silent. The cat was absent. Some cats are always absent, but not ours. We looked around. Neither sight nor sound. Then going out into the back courtyard I heard a miaou miaou from the roof. After much coaxing, still no cat. Was there a slightly urgent/anguished note to its miaouing? I climbed up the tree and discovered the noise came from under the roof. Down again for a hammer. Up again. I began knocking a hole in the roof. Calls from down below to stop making such a noise. Wait for the morning. On reaching the cat through the hole I found it was caught on a bent nail sticking out of a beam. Unable to free it without risking greater hurt I climbed down again to fetch a saw. On the roof once more I sawed through the beam in two places to remove it, hoping it was not a structural part of the building. More calls for silence from below. Success. I am finally able to free the cat and carry it down where I dress it's injury. It survived. I was cut to ribbons and covered with scratches from the tree which was full of some kind of vicious thorns. In the morning I would see the doctor for some tetanus jabs.

I think there was a big difference in mentality between the Vietnamese and myself with regards to animals. The British put pets on a level with children, perhaps on a higher level. Certainly they are treated as a member of the family. KC, although being the kindest person in the world, regarded pets as animals. No cruelty, very sweet to them, but lacking that certain instinct.

Leave it to the morning indeed!

Mind when I heard some scratching going on for days coming from down one of our drains pipes I was of the opinion a rat had fallen down and couldn't get out. No tearing apart of the drains for it. I hoped it wouldn't smell. I've always found the smell of dead rats like that of a rotting cauliflower.

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