Mooky And Music

By Day Dobbert

 

cat guitarIt was oppressively hot that day and dead quiet, but escaping the sun into my cool garden I heard an eerie rustling high up in my guayaba tree, then, lower down, a mad agitation of branches, then an unceremonious thud at my feet. Matted, filthy, and grey with dust and the debris of leaves lay one stunned cat with a belly so enormous I was certain it was about give birth to a litter of kittens momentarily.

Easing into my kitchen as quietly as I could, I produced, one by one, milk, fancy tuna, and a large bowl of water, relieved that the poor, dishevelled creature, still in a state of semi-bewilderment, had not disappeared over the wall. Actually, I had become irrelevant; sustenance was all. The milk had vanished in moments. Then the solid stuff was attacked, devoured by my very, very hungry visitor.

Looking beyond the animal’s grime, I saw potential; thus we bonded. That happens when you save a life. In fact, he was no mama-to-be but a feral tomcat, belly bloated with starvation, and from that first encounter onwards he hung around my garden knowing food was for the having. He went off carousing in the night as toms will but always returned in the morning as soon as he heard me stirring.

He began to groom himself, and, behold, there emerged a handsome, healthy, sleek fellow, fur thick, glossy, and solid black. Little by little, he dared to venture into the house. Tentatively, he let me touch him, then, finally, stroke him, and he learned to purr. But Mooky -- the name he landed with -- had an aversion to all humans, save me. There was no question of getting him into a carrier to take him off to a vet for fixing. He would remain feral and a tomcat always.

However, one morning after what clearly had been a rough night on the town, Mooky limped home with a badly injured paw, worsening as the days went by. Nothing for it, he needed a vet. It was Dr. Jesus Medeles who understood my plight and agreed at once to a house call, forewarned that Mooky was a wild one. But Jesus was a cat charmer, and – que milagro!-- he corralled my beast, who, astonishingly, gave himself over completely to this stranger, maybe knowing he needed saving again. Who knew how many lives were left to him?

After ministering to his patient and giving instruction for care to follow, Jesus, with an appreciative glance around my living room, espied my guitar propped up in a corner -- my precious classical guitar, a Guild -- a gift from my parents years earlier.

“Do you play?” Jesus asked.

“Less and less,” I told him ruefully. “My slipping discs protest.” (The seated posture of a classical guitarist entails a twist not compatible with bad backs.)

“Would you mind,” Jesus asked again, “if I gave it a try?”

Of course I didn’t mind. And he played. And played. Wonderfully! On and on he played, lost in his music, classical pieces, some elegantly simple, familiar to me because I’d once worked on them myself. Others, more dynamic and complex, were ones I’d only aspired to learn. I was transported, Mooky, infected paw forgotten, mesmerized. An hour dissolved. Reluctantly, Jesus ended his concert and took his leave.

The years, like that hour of grace, have dissolved. Mooky mended, my devoted companion for a long, long while, my noble, quintessential feline, a survivor and free spirit. But Mooky grew old and though brave to the end, he was beleaguered by an inoperable tumor and had to be put down.

Yet, the guitar lived on, albeit gathering dust, not unlike my cat before his rescue. So, the guitar has been rescued too, destined, hopefully, for someone who will make music with it just as Jesus had, someone who will truly bring it back to life.

I’d called on a friend, in her own right a gifted violinist, asking for advice, and faithful Margaret didn’t fail me, sending to my house gracious Chuni Medeles, now Director of Ajijic’s Cultural Center. Chuni promises to find a new home for my venerable Guild, perhaps with a student at the Medeles School, Musica Estudio, or with his consortium of artists, El Tachihual -- Arte y Cultura para Todos.

I told Chuni the story of that magical concert, as I have to others over the years, and he wants to tell it too—to his father, Jesus, the veterinarian. Although it was nearly a quarter of a century ago, Chuni claims his father will surely remember having healed a suffering cat, not just with hands on a painful paw, but on the strings of a treasured guitar....

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