Yesterday, after I had finished eating my lunch of bele, a Fijian green, leafy vegetable similar to spinach, and canned mackerel, I passed a young boy roaming around the village. Clutched tightly to his chest was the smallest kitten I have ever seen. It could not have been more than a week old.
This cute little kitten looked a lot like mine, gray with black spots and stripes. Like a dull mix between a tiny tiger and a tiny leopard. The difference was that this kitten had white feet, as if it were wearing two pairs of miniature socks. I stopped the boy to pet the kitten. Then I went on my way, walking back to my house. I looked back and smiled when he put it down in the community hall, where the women were weaving mats, and all of them screamed.
As I was opening the doors to my house, I saw him walk by, the kitten once again pressed against his chest. I asked him it was his and he said it was not. “Oh, whose is it?” I asked, in English.
“No, it’s for the trash,” he replied.
What did he mean its for the trash? I must have heard him wrong, I thought.
“For the trash?” I confirmed.
“Yes. It’s a trash cat.”
Nope, I had not misheard. He was walking this cute, defenseless kitten in the direction of the village dump: a pit dug just past the tree line of the beach, filled with tuna cans and clam shells.
“You’re going to throw it away?” I asked, more than a little concerned.
“Because it’s small. And it’s a girl.”
As an American, I could not understand what was happening. I was about to tell him I would take it, when I caught myself and bit my tongue. The last thing I needed was another kitten. Especially one I would have to bottle feed. And when it grew up it would have kittens.
“OK,” was all I could say.
I saw him again about fifteen minutes later when he came to ask me for a plastic bag. I asked him what had happened. “So, you put it in the trash pit?” I said.
“Yes,” he replied, nonchalantly.
“Is it dead?”
“Did you kill it first, or just throw it in alive?”
“Yes. I just threw it in the trash.”
“How do you know it was dead?”
“I saw it. It’s dead.”
“Did you throw it at a tree or something first?”
“No, I just threw it in the trash.”
What a strange situation. I still can’t be sure of the exact details, but the kitten is dead