No, One Cat You Can Stand
Written by Peyman Hooshmandzadeh
Translated by Sadegh Geranbaha
Illustrator Siamak Pourjabbar
If there is one, you can stand her; if she is like yourself; it is possible. What’s wrong with that, after all? How can she hurt you? No, one cat you can stand. If she doesn’t have babies, if her shedding hair doesn’t upset you; if she behaves; if she doesn’t have a charming heart and doesn’t keep pairing off all the time. And if she does, if she has a crush on a tomcat, at least she doesn’t take his paw and bring him home with her. It is possible . . .
Every morning from your bed, you can watch her acting coyly, you can watch her rubbing up against things. You can enjoy her being coy, her warm body when she sits on your cold feet. No, you can stand her. How much will she cost you, after all? Your glass of milk will be cut in half in the morning; instead, you’re not alone anymore. She comes and sits at your feet and waits for her share, you start eating, and the house is not dead quiet as it has always been; the slurping sound of her lapping milk would be a blessing.
She can manage with the leftovers from lunch. For dinner, you buy her something on your way back home. It doesn’t matter how much. It is necessary to have a pet after all, especially for someone with no hobbies. And when you’re going to work, you shut the door so you don’t have to worry about her snitching. You just have to remember to move the fragile things out of her way.
And it doesn’t take you long to find one either. At night, they all come flooding out. If I walk the streets and back streets for a night or at most two, I can find one of those black ones, one of those shiny black ones. Then I will take her and bring her home with me and start training her. They say a cat can’t be trained. Why not? If you’re patient enough, if you spend enough time on it, it sure is possible. What do you need for that, anyway? Just enough time and space. True, I may not have enough space, but I sure have enough time. She will only be alone until evening. I can take her out when I come back home from work. We can walk the whole town together. I can teach her a whole lot of things. Who says a cat can’t be trained? Of course it is possible. There should be a way. If she catches on, all the better. But what if she doesn’t? What does it matter? What matters is that she keeps you company. This is the least she can do; add to this the things that come up and you don’t know. You can entertain yourself for an hour or so, teasing her just with a single ball of yarn. Cleaning her, brushing her down, feeding her, each one of these can entertain you a whole lot. If not tonight, no doubt I will go tomorrow night and find myself one.
It’s really necessary for someone like me. No, one cat you can stand. A cat will always come in handy: for the nights you sit by the window, those midnights when you sit and think and think and reach the end of the line and make up your mind, and then get cold feet, and you realize what a coward you are. For the times when you’re in a pickle; the times when you’re rocking back and forth on the chair, going up and down for hours, not averting your eyes from the rope. The nights when the rope swings back and forth in the breeze, the nights when you don’t have the courage to stand on the chair and tighten the slipknot around your neck, or even if you could climb up and the slipknot were tight, you would fear that for a second, just for a tiny second, your foot might slip. No, a cat is really made for these moments. You could pull the slipknot tighter, much tighter. Then sit the cat down on the chair, tighten the slipknot around her neck, grab the end of the rope and sit back in a corner. You could pull at the rope gently a few times to make sure she has no way out. And then pull it little by little or, I don’t know, yank at it. No, you can stand one cat. You can sit tight in the corner of the room and carefully watch her choke to death. You can watch her eyes as her eyeballs pop out of their sockets. You can watch her writhing around. You can feel her trembling through the rope, the rope that makes your hands tremble. You can watch her scratching at the air, her starting to wheeze, her puking, her last jerk, her not moving anymore, her silence. What harm can a cat do after all? No, it is possible. One cat you can stand.
Peyman Hooshmandzadeh was born in 1969 in Tehran. He writes short stories and is also a photographer. He has published five collections of short stories, and his work won first prize at the Zamaneh Short Story Contest in 2007, and he has won several national photography awards. He has also worked as a journalist. (Updated May 2011)
Born in 1976, Siamak Pourjabbar is Creative Manager at Eshareh Advertising Agency and a member of the Iranian Graphic Designers Society. He has participated in several international exhibitions including the Hong Kong International Poster Triennial (2010) and the Chicago International Poster Biennial (2010). He has won a number of national and international prizes including second prize at "4th Block," the 7th International Triennial of Eco-Posters, Kharkov, Ukraine (2009), and prize for Poster for Tomorrow, Freedom of Expression (2009). (Updated May 2012)
This story was originally published in Persian in:
Hooshmandzadeh, Peyman. Two Dots [Do ta noghteh]. Tehran, Cheshmeh: 2011.