A Bad Case of Hunger

June 13, 2011
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That day started out as most others had that summer. My grandmother guided me through the maze that was the farmers' market. The dark brown, rough wooden stalls were decorated with brilliant colors: red, green, dark blue, yellow and orange, all fruits and vegetables. The farmers stood behind their cornucopia of colorful produce, beaming like proud parents watching their child walk his first steps. Warm smiles, wrinkles faces, and hands that hinted towards days spent plowing fields greeted my grandmother as she carefully inspected each and every piece of produce she placed in her shopping bag.

On the way home, my grandmother carefully wove her way through streets, around cars and people, passing quaint, yet chic, boutiques and busy little cafes. The scene thoroughly amazed me and my grandmother had to constantly turn around to make sure I hadn’t stopped to stare at impeccably dressed men and women, the street vendors, or the shops. Truthfully, it’s almost a miracle that she never once lost track of me, as I was the queen of curiosity. As we made our way back to the house, I began to hear a soft, but persistent squeaking. Instantaneously, explanations began to zip through my head. Maybe it was a broken bike or a door that needed to be fixed. Maybe it was a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. Grandma and I had helped out tons of baby birds.

"Nana, what’s that noise?" I whispered quietly, being careful not to let my voice overpower the sound.

"Sweetie, don't worry about it. It's probably just a tiny animal crying at its mama for food," my grandma answered in her usual soft, comforting tone. I did what she said and stopped pursuing the noise, despite the fact that it got increasingly louder as we came closer to our house.
As we entered the front yard, I saw the most wondrous thing I had ever seen. I clapped my hands with joy, exclaiming, "Nana, look! Kittens!" Upon catching sight of two tiny gray bodies and two pairs of cobalt blue eyes, I let go of my grandmother's hand and ran as fast as I could towards them.
"Grandma, that's what's been making the noise!" I exclaimed with excitement, as if I had made the discovery that would win me a Nobel Prize. My kittens, with their small, blue eyes beckoned me to pick them up. Without hesitation, I dropped my bag of groceries and heard it land with a soft thud as I scooped the kittens into my hands. They were now my most prized possession, as I had always yearned for a pet. I couldn’t believe my luck that I had stumbled upon not one, but two kittens who were now mine!
"Baby, we can't take those kittens. They're not ours; leave them there," my grandmother said in a low voice, interrupting my moment of pure joy. In my head, I heard the “Game Over” tune that my uncle liked to repeat, most recently at his best friend’s wedding.
My jaw dropped and I was so shocked that I couldn't utter a single word. I stood there in disbelief, my mouth gaping, trying not to accept the fact that she was right. When I finally found my voice, I asked in a rude voice, "Whattya mean?"
"Sweetie, they may be unsafe. We don't know if they're vaccinated or if they're given any kind of medicine. Besides, I'm sure their mama is going to miss them very much if she comes back and they're not here." Her tone seemed more exasperated than comforting and I knew she was losing patience with me.
"But finders keepers, losers weepers! What if they don’t have a mommy? What if they’re all alone? What i-" I attempted to fight back in a loud, exaggerated tone.
This time, I knew she meant business. "I will not argue with you any more, young lady. Come inside, we're having lunch soon." I was crushed, devastated, and very shocked. Shocked that she wouldn’t let me keep my kittens. Shocked that my sweet little grandmother wasn’t, for once, on my side. I whispered a sorrowful goodbye to my kittens and reluctantly put them down. I sulked my way over to the front gate and slammed it behind me.
That morning's trip to the farmers' market was a waste, as I promised myself that I'd sooner starve than leave those kittens out there. And so, my hunger strike began. At lunch, my grandmother made my favorite dish. However, I didn't eat a thing despite my growling stomach. I did feel some remorse for contradicting my grandmother even though she had a valid point. However, I also felt utterly betrayed and didn't understand how she could be so cruel and leave my poor kittens out there all alone. Throughout the day, the sound of my loud, rumbling stomach was accompanied by the soft meowing of my kittens. The two sounds didn’t make a very nice melody.
That night was designated to be "movie night" at the Dinicu household but I refused to participate in such jovial activities when my kittens were alone. Rather than politely declining my family's invitation to watch the movie, I turned and stomped my way up to my room, slamming the door behind me. I plunked myself down on my bed, still trying to ignore the voice in my head that kept telling me my grandma was correct and I was overreacting. A few seconds later, I heard soft footsteps making their way up the stairs and consequently, a knock at the door. I crossed my arms and huffed as my grandmother walked into my room.

"Honey, I brought you some food," she said as she placed a plate of steaming food on my desk. The ambrosial smell made my mouth water but I didn't answer her.

"Baby, I know you're upset but those kittens aren't yours. They'll be alright with their mama. First of all, you can't go taking things that don't belong to you and most importantly, you can't always get what you want." I knew she was right and her warm tone alleviated my anger, but I wanted my kittens regardless, so I kept my mouth shut.

She tried again, "But maybe you and I can go down there with a bowl of warm milk and a small blanket for those little kittens." She had won, though that wasn’t saying much because I knew I was overreacting from the beginning. I looked up at her, smiling, gave her a hug and whispered an almost inaudible apology. Together, my grandma and I walked hand in hand to the kittens.

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