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NoLil Mama

By Reddie Harris

The black window of a 30 foot RV (my castle) hangs wide open. A large bag of cat food sits unopened inside. Four litter boxes are laced over with translucent spider webs and I feel like a total failure. I do my best to provide security and shelter for myself and those I possess in my right hand. 


As a non-resident of California, I have no rights, even though my castle is across the street from the overseer (police) station. I have no papers linking my kitty, Lil Mama, to me. 


Lil Mama is an affectionate spirit covered in fur. Gray tiger stripes decorate her fur and she does her best not to scratch me as she crawls and climbs from one end of the castle to the other. With the black window open, she can come and go as she pleases. Her food dish is always topped off, so I need to stay stocked. The litterboxes stay cleaned only when there’s something inside to clean. It is on me to protect and provide for her because she can’t buy food or clean her litter boxes


“I would like to keep her until her shots appointment next week. Get a chip in her. How do you feel about that? Her and my cat are insanely attached. I didn’t expect that…Ok, if you have $500 for all that and can prove it’s a healthy environment, I will return Lil Mama”


Oxford defines appropriation as “the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission”


“Can you take time to consider this? She’s thriving. I give them four meals a day. She goes out as she pleases. She has her own water fountain with fresh water at all times”


Does this sound familiar? Have you heard this argument before? Has anyone tried to justify wrongdoing on grounds that they made things better? That’s what happened to me, but I remembered some very good advice that turned this situation around. “As long as you keep your composure no matter what’s going on, you’re doing great”. It wasn’t my clever wit or domineering authority that turned the situation around.


 I didn’t resort to threats of retaliation because realistically, the overseers have little to nothing to gain by defending my rights. Without a mailbox, the city is constantly trying to purge me and others from it. No, I don’t think the city is an entity that plots against me. There are things like this that happen all over the city, but predators always follow the same patterns. A predator’s first choice will always be the vulnerable, the underrepresented, the unattended. 


When Crazy Cat Lady first took Lil Mama from the castle, (I don’t know if she went inside or got the kitty as she was outside), she saw her unattended, thought she had no representation and was vulnerable to prey upon. Let me tell you what works. Prayer and patience. You know, I do not believe that talKing is an action, unless it’s in prayer. I prayed on this and had trust that Allah would eventually sort out my affairs, as always. I prayed for the safety of Lil Mama and even through this trial, she was safe.


 I was patient in remembrance that Crazy Cat Lady, like so many walKing on cracked concrete instead of grounding themselves in comeyounity, is hurt. I couldn’t possibly expect her to sympathize or rationalize on her own. Neither her or I have ever been in control of this or any situation. 


The Creator hears and answers prayers. With patience and trust, she was brought black to my castle by the one who took her. Despite this trust, I must admit that I was surprised how much pressure Crazy Cat Lady got from the people around her. All I had to do was tell her to listen to the voices around her. The truth is a beautiful song coming out of someone else’s mouth. I dare not interrupt.


 Crazy Cat Lady told me she knew she was being selfish and asked me what I thought she should do. I suggested she search her heart and do what is right. Regardless of what we’ve been through, regardless of what we’ve done or seen, regardless of the state of the world, we are people. We are. If I see someone, I see mycellpH. If I feel something, that’s felt all over the world. I treated her the way I would like to be treated, with compassionate honesty. May Allah be pleased


After much procrastination and with tears abundant, Lil Mama was brought to my door by Crazy Cat Lady. She (Lil Mama) jumped right in and on my lap for pet-pets. I didn’t protest as Crazy Cat Lady stood outside swollen-eyed lamenting over her love of all things furry. Personally, I think she is trying to fill an empty space, like so many others. When comeyounities fall short, people seek ineffective alternatives. Cats are not parents. Cars are not children. Money is not a lover and childhood cannot be relived through substances. 


Try as we may, we cannot consistently rely on anything or anyone but the Creator. This situation has reminded me that things and people will come and go. That is life and it’s best not to get too attached. Be happy for what you’ve got and try not to oppress anyone


Lil Mama is with me happily feasting on yum-yums and getting pet-pets at the castle. I still see Crazy Cat Lady around from time to time and no grudges are held. Not all situations are resolved so amicably though. My firstborn son was taken away from me by my family because they feel that they can take better care of him than I can. Palestinians are being forced away from their land by people who think they can care for it better. There is no escaping loss, theft and appropriation, not without faithful prayer

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