Music, people, life. Letters from Paris.
Our son always loved cats. As a toddler in Chicago he would perch on a chair and lean on the kitchen window counting and naming the stray cats as they filed through the yard. He knew them by name. Coco, Bob, Marmur. I told my husband to not start feeding those strays, but one day I found a stealth bag of kibbles in the basement. That’s how it starts.
We don’t know where the name Marmur came from. Marmur is referenced in The Book of the Dead. “Stand still now, and thou shalt eat the rat which is an abominable thing unto Rā, and thou shalt crunch the bones of the filthy cat. …Didst thou not meet the Marmar?” It is also a surname. Whatever the link between the word and its original meaning, our son began naming all the cats “Marmur.” One sweltering summer day Coco gave birth to a litter of kittens on our back porch. Even if you aren’t into cats, its hard not to be moved by elegance of a mother cat birthing and caring for her tiny charges. I brought them all inside to the air conditioned house while Coco recovered and adjusted to motherhood. The six kittens were also named Marmur. At the time of the arrival of all those Marmurs, we were actually preparing to move to France, selling furniture, throwing things away, boxing everything else, downsizing and lightening the load. I told our son when we were settled in our new home, we would get a cat.
I had assumed cats just come to you as easily as they did in Chicago. My to-do list upon arrival in France was long, and I dragged my heels on the cat promise. We befriended a neighbor’s cat Coffee, but no cats actually came to live with us. Eventually for a birthday, I took my son to the SPA. I told him we were going to a cat farm where you can play with cats. He was delighted. We hung out for a bit in a room filled with cats, perched on shelves, running in and out, sunbathing, eating, sleeping. One cat in particular kept returning to him to play, chasing a ball, purring, charming. I told my son he could select a cat. He was shocked and so happy. He knew immediately which cat would come home with us. And his name was Marmur.
Marmur was black with green eyes, a sure sign of bad luck and actually a pretty bad cat. He wasn’t too loyal, was a picky eater, and took off for days on end. He had an ID tattoo in his ear, and I was regularly getting phone calls to come and pick him up. He would visit tourists on the peniches that docked on the Seine River just across from our house. One day I saw him on a peniche heading down the river. I thought that would be the end of him. A few days later he returned.
Eventually we bought a house and moved to a village on the other side of the river. Marmur stayed for a while and then took off one day and never returned. Soon after our son found a brown striped kitten meowing and alone in a wooded area across the street. Spooky Leopold came and stayed.
Its been five years since Marmur left. The other day my husband said he saw Marmur coming out of a house about 200 metres down the street. Marmur was jet-purring, rubbing, following, charming. He was chunkier, but had the same white patch, and the tattoo. The next day my daughter and I were in the same street and Marmur came out, just as he had years before at the SPA. He flopped down in the middle of the road in front of us, looking up, purring and asking to be picked up. When a dog appeared, he slipped under a parked car to hide, and we left him there, green eyes following us on our return home.
I suspect Marmur is going to show up on our doorstep one of these days. Marmurs are reliable like that.