“I want to raise a cat,” said Wang, sitting in the living room, speaking to the air.
His wife, Zhang Hongmei, looked at him and laughed.
“I want to raise a cat,” Wang declared again with his eyes fixed on the powered-off TV screen.
His wife began to realize the seriousness of the situation. She pretended to be distracted and looked at their eight-month-old son bawling for food, 70-year-old mother-in-law afraid of all small animals, 72-year-old dauntless, unyielding father-in-law, and the middle-aged, bald bachelor neighbor who lived across the corridor.
Everything indicated that this was not a suitable environment to raise a pet cat.
The wife looked at her husband.
“Raise cats,” Wang said firmly.
With furrowed eyebrows, she looked at him:
Thirty-five years old, successful career, receding hairline, and having a nevus on the left of his forehead.
“No,” the wife announced, who had the final say in the family, Wang should not even dare to do such a thing.
Wang stood up, snorted, and walked into the bedroom with his chin up and hands clasped behind his back.
The next day, Wang bought back a lot of cat supplies – cat food, cat toilet, a cat litter box, fake woolen balls, cat teaser, red laser pointer, velvet cat mattress, and a cat bed.
The wife panicked, but Wang went into the bedroom and lay down, saying nothing.
On the third day, Wang brought back a two-month-old Siamese cat with a black face, blue eyes, and a yellowish coat.
The wife got mad. She reminded Wang that he was the backbone of the family. Excessive attention to a plaything saps the will.
Wang taught the cat how to use the toilet. However, it made a mess in the litter without burying it, causing a stench.
The wife continued to try and persuade Wang to get him out of the way. Wang squatted on the ground and buried the cat feces; his movements were meticulous, like a dedicated man. He stared at the sand for a while, and suddenly said: “Call it Old Luo.” After he uttered those words, he turned around and picked up the cat, and then did not say anything else.
All things are difficult before they get easy. A few days later, the wife noticed the changes that the cat brought to the family.
Wang became a family man. He came back early every day, and he didn’t go to the cafes on weekends to kill time. He became industrious and thrifty in managing the household, did not drink, smoke, or play computer games. He also mopped the floor every day. Playing with the cat together, father and son strengthened their bond. He started to get up early to clean up its mess and feed the cat, and took out the garbage when he left.
The noisy cat often scratched the sofa. “Fortunately, I have sofa covers,” said the mother-in-law. The mother-in-law screamed when the cat was in her bed. The father-in-law was addicted to the cat, no longer paying excessive attention to his health, such as dancing in the square and attending free lessons taught by healthcare experts. The mother-in-law was very angry, and sometimes berated her husband.
The wife is a meticulous woman. She put up with her mother-in-law’s chatter, nagging, and bouts of anger, knowing that anger can accelerate women’s aging. She tolerated it, but the pain accumulated in her mind. She was on the verge of breakdown, and the war between wife and mother-in-law was beginning to mount.
Her conclusion was that raising a cat did more good than harm, but they cannot raise that particular Siamese cat as it was too noisy and unruly, making the mother-in-law furious.
The wife intended to discuss it with her husband. After all, she had already compromised on some level, and the cat had been home for only one week. There was still time to change the cat.
One day he found Wang in the study, reading, and the cat was sleeping on the desk. She tactfully put forward her request and waited for Wang’s response. Wang frowned and closed the book, reached out and touched the cat’s belly. After a bit of contemplation, he said, “Don’t you realize the cat already has a name?”
The wife thought that Wang’s words made sense, but she was not willing to give up her well-prepared plan just because of this sentence.
The more she thought of it, the angrier she grew; she couldn’t help but cry, tears running down her face onto the floor, and she cried and said, “Do you have any idea how much I have done for this family! Since marrying into this family, every day I’ve been busy with household chores from morning to night. You are totally ignorant of my feelings, and I told you not to raise a cat, but you decided to raise it anyway. I have taken a step back and am asking you to just change the cat. But you simply reject it. I feel wronged.”
Wang panicked, and so did the woken-up cat. Wang looked at the cat and combed its hair. Wang’s face took a more determined look, the look of a man that had made a decision. He slowly turned his head and looked at his wife with a very serious facial expression.
“Divorce,” Wang said resolutely and decisively.
WANG SUI is a signed author of Baihuayuan Magazine.