- Birthday Expectations by Patricia Asedegbega
“Today is different,” Balou thought as he stood at the foot of Rosario´s bed watching her sleep. He would give her a few more moments before waking her up properly.
“It is my birthday!”
Balou remembered Rosario´s last birthday. Flowers had arrived from all over, at one point, it felt like they were in a flower shop. He, of course, had had a great time sniffing every single one that had come in, it had become a game as Adela tried to get some out of his reach.
“No Balou, this one is poisonous for cats, it will make you sick.” She had said on various occasions, moving the offending plant out of his reach. But it hadn´t only flowers, a number of breakfast baskets had been brought, of which he had sampled some of the ham, for, of what use were they to him if he could not eat any of their contents? The fruit baskets he had completely ignored, the people that had sent those obviously needed a Master class on the art of buying presents.
The telephone had not stopped ringing all day, a few at indecent hours when Rosario had not even woken up! Good thing that there were two telephone numbers in the house and most did not have her private line. The staff wrote down a lot of messages that day.
However, the best part was when the doorbell rang at noon and the opened door revealed Rosario´s family that had come all the way from Sevilla to surprise her. He had positioned himself in the middle of the staircase to know if to flee or go down, depending on who was on the other side. As soon as he saw who it was, he had raced down to greet his human grandfather.
“Balou!” The man had bellowed as he had been flung in the air and he knew that somehow he would be caught, even though, he was a cat, he always landed well. The rest of the day had been very satisfying for him, Rosario´s mother had taken over the kitchen and that woman could work wonders, because barely an hour later, they had all found themselves seated to a splendid meal. Himself included! His high stool had been brought from the kitchen and placed as tradition dictated, next to Miguel, that shared his roast lamb with him, not just the main course, he was given the excellent jamón they had brought with them, shrimps, roast fish…Oh, what a beautiful day it had been! Full of chatter… and food, laughter…and food and then…food.
So what was in store for him today? A cake made entirely from tuna? A room full of treats he could dive into and not be found in days? a whole jamón? A T-bone? Fillet Mignon? The images kept popping in his head, as he started nibbling Rosario´s toes. She moved her feet mumbling something unintelligible and he advanced to her face. Nothing like water to wake one fully up, the next best thing to a glass of said liquid, was his raspy tongue. He proceeded to give her a thorough wash. That method had never failed in the past, there was no reason it would do so now.
“Balou! It´s 4 am!” Rosario exclaimed as she opened her eyes and looked at the clock on her nightstand.
Balou stared at her unblinking. He had been quite considerate and waited quite a bit, occupying his thoughts with of ways his birthday could be celebrated, he did not understand what she was complaining about.
“Oh you little monster! I can´t believe you are three years old today. My special little boy.” Before he could escape, he had been caught in a tight embrace and covered in kisses. He suffered the torment in silence for a few moments and then wriggled his way out. That birthday tradition he did not in the least bit care about.
“Well there is no going back to sleep now, so let´s go and see if there are any presents for you.” His ears perked up at the last part as he ran ahead of her wondering what he was about to get, he had to come back as his human was taking her time wearing her sleepers. Why could she not go barefoot like he did?
She opened one of the bedrooms and Balou peered suspiciously in, wondering what on earth could possibly be of interest to him there.
The room had been completely transformed, there was a gigantic cat tree that occupied a whole wall. Full of levels, ladders, scratching posts, dangling toys, condos, hammocks…Balou stood in awe, it was almost at the level of the ceiling. Suddenly, he caught the whiff of something very, very pleasant, he approached his new castle and discovered that there were treats inside some of what one could only call ” the rooms” in his mansion.
“This is the best birthday ever! I can go back to sleep and you can discover what surprises await you in every compartment.” Rosario chuckled, grabbed him just before he disappeared into his kingdom, and planted a few more kisses on his head. He let her, she deserved it today.
“I wonder what the staff has prepared for me”, was the last thought that came into his mind as he embarked on what could only be described as the best culinary experience ever.
From the “Rosario and Balou series.”