Varana is a sweet and friendly little girl. She smiles all the time, sings and waves at people as they walk past the front door of her home in Coron on Palawan Island. Everyone loves Varana, everyone but Nuuno the neighborhood cat.
Nuuno used to like Varana when she was a baby. He would walk up to her and nuzzle into her soft baby skin making her giggle those cute little baby giggles that put smiles on everyone’s faces. Nuuno liked the comments people would make about the pair of them, and he felt like they would be friends forever. But then something changed that, Varana learned to grip things with her little hands.
Nuuno’s long tail was something of a defining feature for which he was well-known among his fellow felines. He would often wrap it around the ankles of friendly humans who would reach down and stroke him as he purred loudly, turning up his cat charm to ten.
Little Varana used to giggle when he wrapped his tail around her arms or legs, and he was especially charmed when she waved her chubby little limbs around in delight at his presence. But then one day she grabbed it, gripping it in a surprising vise like hold that seemed unthinkable for such a small thing. Nuuno had to pull away sharply to escape Varana’s grip and when he did she toppled over and let out a yell.
Adults came running over and shouted at Nuuno, shooing him away. They scooped little Varana up into their arms and comforted her. Nuuno was confused. What just happened? Varana and he were friends, he didn’t mean her to fall over, she would tell them that surely. After all she’s human, she makes those human sounds they all understand.
Pretty soon this became the norm. Nuuno would approach Varana, purring and full of the affection he always had for her, then she would reach out and grab his tail. He’d meow a few times to try and tell her this really wasn’t fun for him, but it made no difference, her grip wouldn’t lose until he hissed at her or jolted his tale out of her hand to which she would always let out a cry and immediately get the clamouring attention of the people around her.
He became suspicious. Did she like those humans better than him? What happened to their special bond? Was she using him to get their attention? In the end he grew tired of this new routine, and it hurt his feelings to be constantly chased away by the humans, and talked about behind his back by the other cats. They called him a bully, and a trouble maker, but they didn’t understand.
Things have moved on since then. Little Varana walks around freely now, and is still popular with everyone. Nuuno used to steer clear of her, but then one day he saw her laying alone on the kitchen floor with her very own tails coming from her head. They were only small, but big enough to fit under the paw of a determined cat for sure. A demonstration of how it feels to have ones tail gripped was not out of line here, indeed Nuuno felt that little Varana should understand some of the pain he put up with before their friendship came to an end.
It’s something of a wicked pursuit for Nuuno now. He’s a nimble creature able to slip away before her toddler cries gather the attention of the adults who don’t seem to come as quickly as they did when she was a mere baby. She squirms and cries as he pulls her hair. She clearly doesn’t like it, but then neither did he and that never troubled her back then did it.
It’s all part of growing up, he tells himself, children, even the cute ones, need to learn lessons and why not from a cat. He’s heard humans say it before, and if he could speak he would tell her himself as she looks at him with cautious eyes.. You see little Varana, two can play at that game and you need to learn, in life you get what you give.