A lovely little encounter at the side alley stall

This morning, my husband took me to this little side alley stall from where he had been buying the cats’ new stainless steel feeding bowls lately. A few weeks ago, he bought one, then I found it really good. So he went back and bought another ten. We’re short of two more (7 inside and 6 outside).

Today, the man had stock so we bought another two. I noticed he was selling good quality stainless steel wares for a very affordable price so I looked for a water bowl to replace the current plastic one at Bunny’s Place. The man suggested a few but they were not suitable so I told him I was looking for a broad-based feeding bowl for cats.

“Cats?”, he asked.

Yes, I said, I feed the cats.

The man then clasped his hand in reverence, gave a little bow and said “Amituofo” which is a popular Chinese-Buddhist salutation as an acknowledgement of something good.

His instant response in this respectful manner took me by surprise but it was certainly a very pleasant one. Normally one would be chided for “feeding the cats”. In fact, more often than not, if you tell someone you look after stray animals, you must prepare yourself for an unpleasant lecture which I have grown accustomed to. Either they tell you off straight for your unworthwhile activity or the more polite ones would give a polite half-smile and quickly change the topic because they are simply not interested in what you do.

But today…this man was interested.

Then he proceeded to admit that he had never quite thought of extending kindness to stray animals until (he pointed to the shop next door) “…that pork-seller, you see there? He feeds the stray cats and he even takes them to be neutered. You know, it costs more than RM100 to neuter a cat.” I nodded.

Then he continued, ‘When I heard what (the pork seller) does, only then did it dawn on me that that’s an area of kindness that I should think about doing too. Never occurred to me before this…”, he said, in obvious admiration of the pork-seller next door.

Now, I decided then and there that this is a man who has wisdom and compassion in him, just waiting to be nudged awake (by that pork-seller next door). He is a good man.

For some people, you can keep telling them about kindness to animals and they will never get it. Not in this lifetime. For some, it’s right there…all it needs a gentle nudge, and it is awakened.

I was going to tell him about our subsidy should he be interested in getting cats neutered, but I realised my Cantonese leaves much to be desired, so I had better get my vocabulary right before attempting to explain what our Medical Fund offers. Anyway, he says for now, he allows cats to sleep in his porch, but he cannot catch them as they run away. If he could, he would get them neutered.

I bought the last two stainless steel bowls and bade him farewell.

Later, after breakfast, I realised I still had copies of Here for a Reason in my car from a talk I gave last night. And hooray…it’s bilingual. Surely he would be able to read Chinese.

So I took a copy from my car and went back to his stall. Asked him politely if he reads Chinese to which he answered in the affirmative.

I gave him the book and told him briefly what it was all about.

He flipped through the pages, was very happy and grateful and told me it’s really a good thing to look after street animals.

As we drove home, it made me realise that books still play a very important role. Not everyone has access to e-books or ipads. There is a whole community out there which still relies on physical hardcopy books. I thank Mrs Lam, the Chinese translator of Here for a Reason and all the sponsors for making this moment possible – to reach out to a fellow human who is just about ready to embark on a change in his mindset – to develop compassion for street animals and help them.

If only I could get translators for my other books, we can reach out further to the non-English reading communities and so many more animals would benefit from this sharing of knowledge, stories and experience.

But meanwhile, we make do with whatever we have.

Today’s a good day!

 Everyone has stainless steel bowls now.

 This is teatime today – a snack of Equilibrio and Hill’s Hairball.

Rosie must have already had her tea in her “other house”.

4 comments to A lovely little encounter at the side alley stall

  • Catherina Tay

    I use stainless steel plates n bowls for my furry kids too

  • Joy E. Saga

    Where is the shop ya? I need extra bowls too.

    • chankahyein

      In one of the alleys in SS14, Subang Jaya. He’s selling each at RM5 and it comes in various sizes. I got the 14cm ones. There is also a bigger one which is 16cm.

  • Liew Wy

    I get my stainless steel bowls from from the DIY shop in Summit – very cheap – RM1 for 14cm and RM1.80 for 16cm. Of course, the quality may not be so good, but u can check it out.