Catherine was the youngest of 8 darling children. They all lived in Ang Mo Kio.
She had long hazelnut hair…. skin fair and light, unlike all her siblings who had dark hair and dark skin. Catherine was nicknamed Cat by her family, and Cat loved being a Cat.
She was 4 when she started meowing… to make her siblings laugh.
There was Cain the eldest who was 12 years older, Caleb who was 13. Cecilia was 12 and the one who could sing, Camilia, 11, who always smelled like a flower. Connie and Cassie, 8 years of age, could dance and were identical twins. Then just after the twins was little Cassandra, who at 6 years old could already carry things much heavier than herself.
The 8 Lim siblings lived a poor but happy life in Ang Mo Kio and often played House with each other. Cain and Cecilia would play Mama and Papa, the twins would be their babies. Caleb would always want to be their butler and Camilia would play the actress in a movie they’re watching. Cassandra would pretend she was the sofa and often had Cain and Cecilia sit on her. Little Cat often looked at this scene and want to play the sun, moon, or stars.
“No! You have to be a cat! That’s literally your name!” her siblings would all say
And so she would sit quietly to make her siblings happy and meowed the night away.
The next day, when playing House, everyone changed roles. “Today, Caleb and Camilia will be Papa and Mama, me and Cecilia will be the actors,” Cain said. “Connie and Cassie will be the sofa, and Cassandra you can be our Butler,” Cecilia continued.
“But what about me? Can I change roles? Maybe today I’m a bird?” Cat asked her older siblings.
“No! You have to be a cat! That’s literally your name!” her siblings would all say.
So it was decided that Catherine played the Cat of a scene that had different actors for the same characters, day after day.
Day after day, Catherine meowed like a cat, because whenever she did so, her siblings would laugh and pet her.
Day after day, month after month, and soon time rolled into years.
By the time Catherine turned 10, her parents finally realized their youngest daughter didn’t speak. It happened one day when her father was sacked from his job, and had to stay home with his children
“Children, let’s have some pancakes, shall we?” Mr Lim who had a tight moustache and a big belly, bellowed to his 8 children.
“Yes please!” Cain and Cecilia chimed, already sitting at the table waiting excitedly.
“Oh yes, I’d love some!” Caleb said, pulling out a chair at the table for himself.
“Thank you papa, they smell delicious!” the beautiful Camilia smiled sweetly at Mr Lim.
“YUMMMYYYYYY” said the twins and Cassandra, stuffing the brown delicious pancakes into their mouths.
Then Cat bit into a pancake and liked it so much, she let out a huge “MeeeeeOooooOooWwwww”
Her siblings laughed and laughed and laughed so Mr Lim laughed too.
Then he asked Cat if she wanted some more and again she said Meow Meow.
“You can stop meowing now, my dear, use your words and not sounds, you can’t be a cat all day” Mr Lim said sternly to his daughter.
But Cat looked at her father and titled her head to the side, wondering why he couldn’t understand her. “Meow meow meow, meow, meow meow?” which in Cat’s mind meant, “Can’t you understand me Papa?”
Mr Lim didn’t find this funny at all, and walked around the table to tower menacingly over Cat. “Stop this nonsense at once! I demand you to speak!” He shouted with his eyebrows all crunched up in anger.
“I am speaking Papa! Can’t you hear me and know what I’m saying?” Cat said, but all that came out from her mouth was more meow meow meow meows.
When Mrs Lim came home from cleaning houses all day, Mr Lim told his wife “You’ve got a crazy daughter”
So Mrs Lim, when tucking Cat into bed, whispered these words into her ears, “I know you just want attention, I’m sorry we can’t give it to you, I’m tired everyday and your father is a nuisance to deal with. I know you were just playing around and didn’t mean to make him mad. But now that you’ve angered him I have to sleep beside an angry man and I hope he’s not going to punish me. I don’t blame you at all my darling Catherine, I guess I’m just saying I understand. What it’s like to stand infront of a man you love, and have him look past your eyes at other women. What it’s like to give birth to 8 of his children and know that he has 8 others with other women. Cat, all I’m asking, is that starting tomorrow, you start behaving like a good girl should. I cannot give you more attention but know I always love you. Please start talking tomorrow and stop meowing because my life is already difficult enough. Goodnight”
Little Cat, at 10 years old, heard all of her Mama’s words. She turned to her side, her eyes still wide, and tears starting crawling down her cheeks. At first they crawled slowly, as if they were sleepy, then all of a sudden, her tears became hot.
Hot tears are now running not crawling at all, furiously out from Cat’s eyes…. down towards her cheeks. Cat cries and cries and cries and cries, until the tears run dry.
The next day when playing House, the siblings noticed something about their Cat. She would laugh and cry at the same time, and mess up all of their stage dialogue. “Let’s pet this good little cat,” Cain said. “Be a good cat, Cat”, Cecilia said.
But Cat just ignored them…. started walking on all fours, licking her hands and feet. She snuffed her nose up in the air at the Lim siblings, lay down on the floor on her side, and started purring. Cat was now so good at playing a cat, that suddenly all 7 of them got scared.
“Stop it now Cat, I don’t want to play anymore. Go back to being yourself” Caleb said, his eyes now full of fear.
Cat listened to her brother’s words and once again, her emotions grew big. Bigger and bigger, Cat’s feelings grew, bigger and bigger her meowing became.
She meowed and cried, and cried some more, then rolled over to play dead.
“Let’s leave her alone, she’s just being silly,” Connie and Cassie said.
So off they went, back into the house, and left Cat alone playing dead.
While playing dead, Cat thought to herself, hey! There’s finally calmness. No more shouting or yelling, or bossing around. She can now start to feel a quiet peace.
Dead, I shall be. Play a dead cat always. So everyone will leave me alone.
Ever since then, Cat was never again, asked to play House with her siblings. “She’s crazy, our Catherine. That must be the case. She’s crazy, she thinks she’s a cat”
Crazy Cat! She became that day, but Catherine didn’t mind it at all. At least they will leave me alone to be, so crazy Cat I will remain.