Malilong: Of dogs, cats and a lizard

Frank Malilong
·3 min read

WHEN the pandemic struck, one of the things I really prayed hard for was to stay uninfected by, and eventually immunized against, the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease. God heard my prayer; I had my first jab last Monday. I would like to believe that I made it easier for Him to grant my wish by staying at home and, on the few occasions that I ventured out, by wearing a mask and observing physical distancing.

Time moves slowly while you anxiously wait for hoped-for deliverance. Because human interaction was limited, I tried other means to keep myself occupied in addition to spending quality time with the family. I think I became richer by the experience.

For example, I have learned to co-exist with the stray cats that have made our house their home since the time someone committed the mistake of feeding one of them with leftovers. There must be a dozen cats in residence now, littering the garage with their refuse and waking me up with their constant moaning on nights when they were on heat.

I used to curse at them lot; there was even a time that I slipped on the laundry area when I threw our driver’s shoe (because it was the only missile available) at them. Now, I simply cover my ears when they moan and my nose when I get to the garage and the cat waste hasn’t been swept or hosed away yet.

Then, there are the two dogs of our next-door neighbors. I have sworn never to own a dog again after Kim, our German shepherd, died and broke my heart. Kim (I named her after the character played by Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon) was the quiet type; I do not remember if she ever barked.

The neighbors’ dogs are puny, compared to my Kim, but they bark a lot and I hated it. They probably also resented my shouting at them because they barked louder every time I did that. One day, I decided to say “Azucena” towards their direction in a softer but still menacing way. I am happy to say that we have since struck some form of modus vivendi. I’m not sure if it was the volume of my voice or the reminder that they could end up on somebody’s plate that have persuaded them to behave better.

Finally, there is the gecko that lives either on our wall or that of another neighbor’s. It used to be that the only time that I could be found having dinner at home was during the weekend. There were just too many dinner meetings to attend. The uneven life ended with the imposition of the quarantine. I have since had lunch and dinner (breakfast is optional because we are late sleepers) every day with the family, including two very adorable granddaughters (sorry, I can’t resist that).

It was at dinner that I discovered we had a gecko as neighbor. Every night without fail, it would chirp and chap while the family was gathered at the dining table. When I was a child, I was told that the lizard was a weather vane, accurately predicting if it would rain or not the following day. I related the same tale to my granddaughters, but the lizard spoiled my story because that same night, the gecko “predicted” that it would be hot the following day, only for us to find out that it rained the whole day.

But habits die hard. I still count each chirp of the gecko although no longer to find out what the weather would be the following day because it has proven to be unreliable in that regard but to find out whether the Covid-19 will disappear or not. So far, I am sorry to say, the result has been inconclusive.