Haibun: Compassion

She was a wild cat really. She never moved inside the house, but would show up at feeding time and sleep on the veranda. She used to be a pristine ball of white fluff. Now she can no longer clean herself, big patches of dry skin show through. She used to be playful and loving. Now she cannot hear so well, jumps and scratches when you come upon her from behind.

I looked at her ageing, diminished body in disgust. I thought of all the unsavoury germs and told my younger child: ‘No, don’t touch!’ But he ignored me. ‘Poor kitty-kitty!’ he said, bending down to caress her, not at all dismayed by decay. I love the fact that he is a better person than me. I hope he will be as tender with me one day.

When frost crackles bones
how sweet to find a warming
spot in river’s flow

A lovely prompt about compassion based on the poetry of Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) from the dVerse Poets Pub.

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15 thoughts on “Haibun: Compassion”

  1. What a lovely study of compassion, Marina Sofia. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how sometimes, little ones can surprise us with the depth of their compassion, and teach us a lesson.

  2. Very sweet. Your young child did the right thing. Tears have come to my eyes.
    I love cats and now miss my neighbor’s cantankerous cat who lived to at least 20. When he was quite elderly, he didn’t like anyone coming up from behind him and petting him. But when I put my hand under his nose and he knew who I was, he put his head in my hand and rubbed it.

    1. And this was before we had any cats of our own! Now he is even more caring towards any cat. I’ve never met a nice person who is horrible to animals, but I have met horrible people who are nice to animals and totally lacking in empathy with other people. Which does make me wonder…

  3. A sweet story of compassion Marina, both in your words and in the photograph. I love how your son lowers himself on all fours and approaches Kitty from within her line of vision, so he doesn’t startle her. And to him she is a sweet old soul who needs extra care in old age. Your closing haiku is gorgeous too – thank you so much for joining in 💜

    1. You are so right – there is a lot of cruelty mixed in with the kindness. I suppose they are unvarnished, raw nature. And it’s up to me as a parent to dilute the cruelty and accentuate the compassion.

  4. Well, most people I know who are kind to animals are kind to people, although some animal rights advocates (and I support a lot of their work) can be very insensitive to people and their needs.
    I think some people have had bad experiences with humans in their lives and turn to animals who give unconditional love.
    I don’t think you have to worry about your children. I think they’ll have a balanced view of humans and animals. But empathy is somewhat ingrained and somewhat learned. I have learned more of it as I’ve grown older — and can barely watch the news or read heavy-duty novels with human tragedies.

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