ITIM na pusa!

A few days ago, a kitten that my wife took in named Fievel died on us. We hadn’t really expected him to live long. He was in bad shape. The person she took him from had found him in a pile of garbage, and was planning on throwing him back in, but she agreed to take him instead. She wanted Fievel to die warm, happy, and fed, if he was going to die. Unfortunately, he did die. I suppose that left a gap that my wife wanted to fill, so she found a new kitten to adopt.

Originally, she was supposed to adopt a kitten named Nala that was 3 months old. We’re still not sure what happened to Nala, or why the person we were going to get her from chose to offer us this cat instead, but she did. It seemed like an amusing twist of fate though. Here’s why:

My wife is from the Philippines and of course she speaks Tagalog. She’s been trying to get me to learn some of it, and it’s an interesting language. I’ve always wanted to speak a second language. I studied Spanish for a while too, because my mom’s side of the family speaks it. I could probably perfect my Spanish with enough diligence, but I haven’t been able to muster up the desire to do it yet. Anyways, my wife seems intent on me learning some Tagalog, so I started studying it on my own a bit. I acquired a copy of a program called Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone is a language learning software for most any language you can think of. It’s a fantastic program and you can learn another language in leaps and bounds with it. I highly recommend it!

Learning a new language always starts with the basics: numbers, dates, simple words, and of course, colors. After you learn a few of those basic words it starts teaching you simple phrases based on what you already know, to start teaching you sentence structure. One phrase was “Itim na pusa.” This was coupled with things like “puti na ibon” and “dilaw na isda.” My wife would come home sometimes and ask me if I’d learned anything new. So, I would tell her a few phrases and she would get a laugh out of it.

One day we were walking from the hawker area back to our place. We were almost at the elevator doors, when I looked over and saw a cat laying down on the cement, looking at me. I wasn’t really thinking about it, but I pointed and said, in a loud, confident voice, “ITIM na pusa!” My wife looked at me, then looked where I was pointing and had a great laugh over it. I started laughing too. The cat didn’t seem to care, but after that I would say “ITIM na pusa!” every time I saw it. It became sort of a joke, and sometimes she would ask me to say it even when we were just sitting around the house. I guess the way I say it is amusing.

So, like I was saying earlier, we were supposed to get a cat named Nala from the woman my wife had contacted. When the woman showed up, she showed up with a black cat. After the usual chatter about taking care of it, and if it needed wet or dry food, etc, etc, my wife asked if the cat had a name yet. The woman replied that no, it didn’t. So, my wife said she thought I had a name for it. I looked at the cat and said, “ITIM na pusa!” We were laughing about it, but the joke went over the lady’s head. She’s Singaporean, so she didn’t understand the Tagalog.

Now, this cat has a sentence for a name, but it’s still amusing. His name is “Itim na pusa,” or Itim for short. For anyone who hasn’t worked it out, “Itim na pusa” means something like “The black cat,” or the “The cat is black.” I think “pusang itim” would be “black cat.” This is the first cat we have that we’ve named ourselves, and it’s great to have a reason and a story to go behind it.

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