Semangat Purrs

Osman looked upon the past 19 years of his life with the disdain one would reserve for the lesser characters of a theatre production. He was in all definitions of the word, a ponce – in his gaunt and pimpled physicality, in the soft manner in which he spoke, in the disgraceful state-sanctioned level of education he had resigned himself to, and in the immutable anxiety that was an unsightly and disowned tattoo, etched eternally on his frail heart. None of these however betrayed the inner conflagration in his soul – a certain raging conflict between the general lethargy of existence and a certain Kantian-esque obligation to action.

It was a Wednesday after school, when Osman bumped into Semangat. Semangat was the carpark stray cat – white with blotches of black like the leaked ink of a G2 pen on the blankness of a paper. Kneeling down, he stroke the Semangat and ruffled its ears. Semangat stretched forward with closed eyes, offering a savouring purr.

Action was an antonym to his existence. Where action would be a fire, his tendency to lethargic inaction was merely a dearth of oxygen. And he felt this asphyxiation. He felt it in the halls of a school where hammered memories of school bullies dwell. He felt in the walls of his one room flat where the blood spurting from the punched mouth of his mak would fornicate with the saliva of his inebriated ayah. And beyond all, he felt it in the Madrasah where his imam droned on and on about social injustice. Action and inaction. Glucose and melatonin. Fire and vacuum. Torpidity and a living force of will. It was an endless dialectical existence by which inertia always overcame.

From his pocket he took out a tin can of Friskies. Tearing open the soft aluminium, he dribbled a stream of pelletised calories before Semangat who without so much as a purr, nibbled and gorged down the pellets. As Osman got up to leave, Semangat afforded a tentative lick on his ankles. Osman reeled backwards and found himself fleeing.

There however were moments where the predisposition to inertia gave way to a raging resentment. In the silence and solitude of his consciousness, resentment knew only one form of expression – violence. Violence, personally foreign as it was, to Osman, resolved the dialectic of action and inaction. In a single moment of unbridled bloodshed so shocking in its intensity and inhumanity, it would instantly achieve a cathartic synthesis of this existential struggle. The first few years when his mak was beaten had been tortuous, but in recent years he found a certain excitement, if not almost satisfaction in the weekly beatings. They for the short moment liberated him from the soulless lethargy and ignited a burning conflagration of short-lived bliss.

Osman returned shortly to the carpark with a sawn-off three-feet piece of rebar and stood in front of the dozing Semangat. In a succession of chops, he broke its legs, obliterated its spine, splintered its chest cavity, smashed in its skull and brought an eternity of silence to the lamentable purrs. 

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