First Encounter

First Encounter

3 mins

He wasn’t always around and yet when we first met, he felt like an old friend. Kholo Kronos, the only person I can wholeheartedly say that I truly loved in my life. I can easily and just as vividly recall our first encounter. The day was dark, the rare glimpses of sunlight we were spared masked by the black clouds up above. Wet, humid with a tinge of hopelessness; the everyday lifestyle in my city with 11-year-olds no exception, especially orphans such as I.

Trapped in my room in the dreary orphanage of Shibuya I’d found myself facing out the window, absentmindedly staring at the droplets racing down my window. What should have been a serene sight was instead a gloomy image, reminiscent of the painful time spent in this establishment. Beatings upon beatings were the norm. Starvation was on most days our staple food. Just the last weekend, we had buried a girl who’d long since been a victim of pedophilia.

A tragic end at the hands of the supposed caretakers and visiting priests. A single snuff to extinguish her life, her death just a single drop in the vast waters of death in which this city sinks deeper every day. Staring at the blurry road, I’d seen a black kitten strolling, the rain coating its fur in a shiny gleam. I watched it slowly as it made its way across the building before resting at the orphanage’s entrance, to seek shelter. Its structure quite visible from afar, the feline appeared weak, uncared for and solitary. I couldn’t help but want to help it.

I’d stepped away from the window and faced my minuscule room. There was nothing but a hard bed and an old bedside table all surrounded by grey walls. The few clothes I owned lay on the foot of my bed in a neat pile. I headed towards the exit with the image of the desperate cat burned into my memory. The door creaked open as I entered the empty hallway. The smell of dust from the carpet, the scent of disinfectant and the eerie silence were the norms. For a full orphanage, it’s never lively. No sounds of playful laughter or a ball bouncing in the distance. Just silence born from the hopelessness and resignation to life’s hardships. Barefoot, I walked briskly down the hallway passing numerous rooms. Still no sounds except the lonely echo of the rain. I reached a pair of stairs and started my quick descend. Dressed in just a grey shirt and old blue running shorts, I was not suited for the cold weather. And yet the sudden urge to help a poor soul soldiered me on as I reached the last step.

I arrive at the reception room with outdated sofas and magazines on the plastic table. The reception desk is empty, as usual. Orphanages don’t want orphans. The howling of the wind outside the front doors gains volume. Goosebumps rose on my arms as the cold started seeping into my skin. I steadied myself, sighed and with nerves of steel started heading towards the storm.

The kitten was nestled in the arms of a young boy dressed in all black clothing. He sat cross legged at the entrance, a bottle of water resting in his sweatpants. His tangled afro hid his face as he stroked the cat lovingly. I watched as the cat purred and stretched before snuggling into his hooded jacket and easing into a gentle slumber. Who was he? He didn’t look homeless and yet here he was, alone comforting a lost soul. He notices my presence and lifts his head up to me. Deep sienna brown eyes pierce my own. And that was when I knew. I just knew.

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