What I feared most became a reality last Wednesday. Even as I am writing this, the painful “scream” which I heard still sends a chill down the spine. I thought I was careful enough to avoid such mishaps from happening. Mistake number one.
I left the house at about 10 that fateful morning after having made sure that Montel, the deaf cat, was securely caged. She has a habit of sleeping along the path of the electric gate and greeting me head-on when I drive into the garage. So, I always, always go the extra length in ensuring her safety.
I was not particularly concerned over the other two strays-turned-permanent- residents, Kaka and ChaCha. They are young and lively and fast as lightning. Although Kaka walks with a noticeable limp, it has never restricted his movements. I took it for granted that they would be able to sense an impending danger and steer clear of it. Grave mistake number two.
I returned home about an hour later and like always, craned my neck to see whether Montel was still in her cage, while still behind the wheel. I could see her restless figure in the cage and then I did what I always do…..pressed the remote control to open the gate. Fatal mistake number three.
The gate slid slowly one third of the way and then stopped. I could not hear anything because the engine was running and both the air conditioner and the radio were on. Thinking that it was a mechanical problem, I pressed on the remote control again in the hope of waking up the sluggish motor. Unforgiveable mistake number four.The gate moved a fraction and then stopped again.
There was no way I could manouvre the car through the narrow gap and so I opened the door to inspect the cause of the problem. The moment I opened the door, I heard the deafening scream. I did not have to look, I knew the answer. Almost immediately my body shook uncontrollably. My mother who was inside the house came out to investigate the commotion as well.
It was Kaka. His lower “torso” was trapped tightly under the massive 20 foot long steel gate. Both my mother and I tried to ease him out but there was no way we could free him.
I sent an SOS to the spouse who was still at the golf course. It took him about 15 minutes to arrive at the scene. He mustered all his might and lifted the heavy gate at the point where Kaka was trapped. It lifted a few millemeters off the ground. My mother and I seized the opportunity to pull Kaka out. Kaka must have also sensed the slight loosening on his trapped body and started to wriggle out. Finally, after almost half an hour, we managed to push him out.
He leapt out like a frog using only his fore limbs, dragging both the hind limbs which appeared completely limp and lifeless. He could not stand on all fours. He had to drag his entire body using his two front limbs. I was quite certain he would be paralysed from the “waist” down.
We rushed him over to the vet. The vet took a quick look at him and gave him a super strong painkiller. That was it. No x-rays, nothing. I had never doubted his (the vet) credibility throughout my ten-year association with him but this time my faith in him faltered. Stupid mistake number five.
I cradled Kaka in my arms on our journey home. He sat very still and then I felt a growing warmth sweeping across my lap. Given the circumstances he was in, he was not punished for peeing on me. In fact, I was genuinely relieved the accident did not damage his kidneys and bladder.
Today, six days after the accident, Kaka is able to walk on all fours again, although the steps are slow and wobbly. Miraculously, there are no broken bones. I hope the worst is over but only time will tell.
No more electric gates for me. Not even those with sensors. Period.
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