A Cat's Tale
Chijioke Osuji
Illustration of a cat

A Cat's Tale

Chijioke Osuji

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  • Fiction
  • Comedy
Narrated by

The grey-tailed white cat sat purring on the kitchen mat when the 23-year-old writer for "Nobody Gives a Shit Magazine" brisk walked to the fridge and opened the bag of sliced bread. He took out a slice and thought first about the black coffee he was brewing and if it'd still work if he had it with the bread. Then he thought of the fruits he ate earlier, the 8 kilometers run over the past two days and the plantain chips next to the bag of bread which he hoped to reward himself with if at all he could manage to hack 1000 words before dawn. He put the bread back in the bag, wandered into the kitchen, accidentally washed the dishes in the sink and rushed back to his desk with renewed poise.

The cat got off the mat, strutted into the kitchen and jumped into the bag of wood shavings which the writer for Nobody gives a shit magazine had been storing behind the kitchen door since the carpenter's visit. At the desk the clicked away at his computer with vigor, spewing thoughts on the use of languages and accents. He remembered the conversation where a 12-year-old interviewee asked him why he spoke in what sounded according to her either like an English or American accent.

The cat whose name was either Freeda or Freidrich depending on its preferred gender strolled back into the living room and licked its belly. The writer whose name the cat didn't know wondered what an appropriate answer would be to the question of his appropriation of western accents. "Well, what can one say except that I have never been to London but I have seen it on TV and I can sound like it if I want or Newyork. But even though I don't care much for harmattan, I like the sun and the rain every other day." Just then a baby mosquito emerges from a lurking position and he claps it! Startling Freeda who leaps onto the stack of hardwood which the writer for nobody gives a shit magazine had stacked by the wall beneath the window intending to make bookshelves out of them.

Outside Freidrich stalked a cockroach which he will succeed in catching but let go off when a big rat comes scampering through the barbed wire fence. As it pounced on the roach one last time, the bag of plantain chips was opened up next to the MacBook whose keyboard was in the middle of typing "unapologetically embracing diversities based on appeal and nothing less." As far as he was concerned, the language was merely a vehicle for conveying the message and as long as the message arrived at its destination efficiently, all must disregard what brand of vehicle it was. The cat dashed in through the open window, meowed at the writer for nobody gives a shit magazine and rubbed its back against his legs as he stood by the fridge biting into a slice of bread he had put down earlier. "No you shouldn't eat bread," he said to the cat and thought to himself "well neither should you but here we are." The cat squinted and purred and he threw some bread on the floor.

The writer picked up a copy of Ayn Rand's smallest book. What he wanted to do was measure the word count per page for reasons best known to him but he instead read the first chapter and shrugged at her theories against collectivism which he thought could be further summarized in a long-winded question about the words "PRODUCTION FOR USE NOT FOR PROFIT" where she asked the following; "If any intelligible meaning can be discerned in that slogan at all, what is it if not the idea that the motive of man's work must be the need of others, not his own need, desire or gain? What is it based on, if not the idea that the state is best qualified to decide where a man can be useful to others, such usefulness being the only consideration, and that his own aims, desires or happiness should be ignored as of no importance?"

He related this to his craft and thought for a moment if writing with an audience in mind or hopes of some kind of social impact, or even just acceptance by however many people was indeed a form of slavery as Rand claimed. He wondered if this fast-paced, instantly gratifying world of endless scrolling, digital dependency, and hyper-connectivity in which we live today was similar to the one that she had imagined in that very forward to the book written in 1946 where she said " Those who want slavery should have the grace to name it by its proper name. They must face the full meaning of that which they are advocating or condoning; the full, exact, specific meaning of collectivism, of its logical implications, of the principles upon which it is based, and of the ultimate consequences to which these principles will lead"

The cat was out of sight and the coffee turned cold. It was 2:45 am when the writer thought he heard footsteps running in the compound next door. He instantly recharged his internet connection, googled the phone number for the nearest police post and sent a text saying "There is a robbery in progress somewhere between house number 10 and 15 on 5th street. Come quickly!!". He turned off the lights in the room and settled back into the chair quietly, half-listening for more sounds of running feet. After spending a brief eternity on Instagram stories and coming to the realization that he was wasting life, he put the phone down. His mind wandered back to the thought of Ayn Rand's philosophy. Unnerved and yet defiant and seeking validation for his belief in art's value being innate to the community, he rushed over to the corner shelf and scoured through Hopes and Impediments for Achebe's criticism of western philosophy on art, in a 1973 essay titled The Writer and His Community. He said, "Perhaps it is the triumphant breathtaking egocentrism of that declaration (I think therefore I am) that occasionally troubles the non-western mind, conscious as it must be of hierarchies above self." He googled the meaning of the word ontological, drank a sip of the cold coffee and marched into the kitchen to brew another cup.

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Chijioke Osuji

Chijioke writes. He can recite your favorite rap song and is sometimes a cat person.

more in this issue
Review of Amos Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Chijioke Osuji
  • Nonfiction
  • Review
Chiamaka Amaku
  • Poetry
  • Free Verse
One Verse Wonders
JT Mole
  • Music
  • Hip-Hop / Rap
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