My first rented apartment. I was on the phone with my future landlord but I did not completely understand what he was saying. After 4 months of living in The Netherlands , among Turkish immigrants, I was on the phone talking for the first time with a Dutch man. The next day we viewed this apartment which was perfect for us: a very big room – as big as a classroom, a built-in kitchen, a bathroom and a huge terrace. To be honest, the terrace was the one who made us decide right on the spot that this was the house we had been looking for. Why? Because we had a cat which was part of our small family and we thought that after all the madness she’d been through we should give her some place to breathe.

The first days flew by, with placing of furniture and gatherings of friends at our place for celebration of the new acquisition. We were going to live here for a year and a half. Without worrying about where we were going to live tomorrow.
What happened next in that apartment were experiences that will always remain imprinted on my soul. Until this world will come to an end…

After a few days of living there, one morning I woke up with a blue-gray color in my eyes. After scanning the room with tight eyes, I see a catlike shadow through the window. The only window in the room had a sort of anti-theft security system through it, so the image was distorted. You could only see the silhouette of the person on the other side. The clear image was through the balcony door.

Having gotten used to cat shadows, I thought it was our cat Chamomile. I closed my eyes but my sleep was disturbed by Chamomile’s paw hitting my face. The silhouette was still on the ledge. Amazed and with my eyes glued together from sleeping, I got out of the bed and I opened the balcony door to see who was there. The cold February wind walked inside with small flakes of snow freezing a part of the violet pajamas I was wearing. With pointy whiskers and his tail pointing upwards, Trampy (as he was later called) was staring at me with his eyes in X.

As I was shivering from the cold, I closed the door quickly, without even trying to wake Rux up. I walked slowly to the kitchen, where I had some freshly bought Whiskas cat food. Chamomile was staring right into my eyes, therefore I gave the first serving to her.
Rux stood up and looked my way: “What are you doing over there?”

“Look!! There is a cat on our balcony and I thought I should give her something to eat. Wanna see her? Put your head out of the window.”
Rux walked and opened the door of the balcony, then lit up a cigarette. I also went with my fist full of cat food. I threw some of the food on the only dry spot available on the balcony, where the snow hadn’t reached yet. That was the first time I saw him approaching.

With his stiff back, dressed in a tuxedo, his gray nose and his piercing look. Here and there he had some bleeding wounds from fights or from trees. To climb up into our balcony, you really have to know how to climb a tree, until you reach the first floor. To come down is even harder because you have to throw yourself upon the roof of the bike parking, purposefully set up behind the blocks. It’s not an easy task, Chamomile only tried it once, but she fell, so she dropped it.

Trampy approached the cat food and in one bite he swallowed everything. When Rux tried to touch a bit of his fur, he ran off the railing of the terrace, leaving us behind with a happy smile on our faces.
Days and months passed by themselves, because time passes even if we realize it or not. Winter became spring, and here we are in the supermarket buying special food for our dear visitor Trampy, still asking ourselves where he is coming from. We never knew where he was coming from. But somehow he always knew when we were home. From afar, he would hear the key of the door and he would rapidly climb up the tree, reaching the balcony right at the moment we stepped inside the house. We didn’t know who owned him or where he was going after leaving us. He came visiting twice a day and we provided him with food, but we were never able to touch him. He would always appear out of nowhere, full of bruises, sometimes too slim, sometimes too fat. Sometimes he was dirty of something black, some other times he was very clean.

His piercing look reminded me of something but I didn’t know what it was. One day, after coming back home, I left the door of the balcony wide open. I lied down on the couch, a tremor of my body started and I began breathing rapidly. Chamomile was circling me in despair. I feel like I’d missed just one moment of reality, but it seemed to be an eternity. With each breath I was reaching deeper into my life history. I was breathing and I was going deeper back into my roots. Am I dreaming? Is this really happening? Because at a certain moment I see an old shaman crouched in the corner of my room, looking at me with an insightful look. The red curtain of the room is waving in the wind. The shaman gets up and with his yellow eyes he comes close to me, whispering something. I can hear the whisper but I cannot move my body. The fever starts to burn my head. I can see him approaching, and then again disappearing behind the red curtain of the window. In the vortex of my mind, I am not able to distinguish the silhouettes. The rhythm of my respiration was accelerating as I was giving up on looking with my eyes but letting myself feel. And then, when I closed my eyes and let it all happen, this Shaman/ Tramp came close to me and touched my left hand with his right paw. As a sign of awakening, or of protection I might say. One thing is for sure: I felt a vibration growing inside my body from his paw and images started scrolling before my eyes, images from a hundred years ago, of human life on earth. I was amazed at this sight of ancient images and I began laughing hysterically, filled with happiness. Trampy came close to me and I threw my hand over him as if I were a lioness.

The Shaman got scared and ran behind the red curtain. I remain astonished. I open my eyes only later, when a lamp is lit by Rux.

The next day, he didn’t come for food…

But later he came daily. One step at a time, he began sitting near our feet when we went out for cigarettes on the terrace. The first time he entered our house, his tummy was stuck to the floor.

Trampy had his special food bowl and he always knew when we were at home. Rux was the only one who could touch him. She would always tell me: his fur is so rough, he’s very stuffed and stiff. I got scratches from him while trying to relieve his suffering because he was always hurt, scratched or beaten up.

He would usually come on the terrace when we were at crossroads: when we were out of money, when we were in a fight, when one was lost, when another was crying, when one was screaming, when we had to take major decisions, when we imagined the world. He was present there, on the edge of the balcony, thinking at sunset.

Chamomile was not getting anywhere near him, like they’d made a pact or something. Everything was at ease when he was on the balcony. When we were leaving for the weekends, we would leave food for both of them.

His energy was so powerful that I always knew he was coming before I could see the shadow at the window. A feeling of peace overwhelmed the room when he was just coming to check out on us. With his ever-scarred nose, he was a constant presence on the balcony. I got used to relaxing in his presence and hoping he’ll stop by tomorrow as well.

It was amazing how he managed to reach our place, and why exactly our place? He easily became a part of our lives, making us question: But where is he? What is he doing? It was amazing how we used to leave food over the weekend for both of the cats. It was amazing that only Rux was able to touch him. But the most amazing thing was that we never knew where he was coming from. Where from…

The moment I left the apartment was heartbreaking. When I slammed the front door shut, my heart broke into small pieces. I was going to leave this apartment behind with all the beautiful memories, all our energy together and Trampy. The idea of not knowing who is going to take care of him now was killing me. Nights before leaving the place, I used to dream about the way he would come to the window and he would look inside and see just an empty room. I always woke up sweaty and saddened. I just forget that he is always with me, waiting for me to open the door of the balcony.

Two weeks before leaving, he didn’t show up. Therefore I never had the chance to say goodbye. Maybe it wasn’t even necessary, because later on I realized he had come to visit me. With tears in my eyes I looked around the garden hoping that I would once again see the tuxedo and the scarred nose. But he never came…

Trampy…Thank you! Thank you for all that you shared with me, but most importantly, thank you for showing me how big my heart can be. From overseas, my dear tomcat, I write to you to send my love and warmth, because for me you have been The Protector…

I hope we meet again!

Regards,
Atthara

translated by Atthara