Zenobia, my little black cat full of djinn, was adopted from a kind family that lives outside the Old City in a courtyard house full of cats. There was a full litter, a half dozen babies, running around on the Friday in mid-September when a few of us paid our visit. Their parents and aunts and uncles were less active, lounging by the fountain. Towards the end of our visit, after finishing our coffees and deciding on our kittens — including Zenobia’s brother, whom the family called Tigo and a friend adopted and renamed al Ghadanfar, the Lion — the mother of the family brought out a family treasure: two stuffed cats. It was the kittens grandparents, or great-grandparents. The taxidermy job was strange: the cats were mounted almost in battle pose, and their eyes had been glazed over, giving them a crazed look, hardly inviting. But they didn’t scare the family; far from it. I learned that day just how Syrians love their cats. Which doesn’t mean all Syrians, nor all cats. The wail of street cats echo at night in the Old City. A walk home through dark alleys usually means an encounter or two with a plump garbage diver.
I’ve been sitting on this picture for a while. Enjoy.