The tiny kitten squirmed on the road, immobilised from the waist up but its back legs flailing from pain. I didn’t know paralysis could work that way. Its eye protruded from its socket like a pimple waiting to be popped. The kitten was clearly the victim of a car or motorcycle tyre, but unfortunately for it, it was still alive and still in Timor-Leste, where even humans are lucky to get rudimentary medical treatment.
I was driving to work on the other side of the road. I wanted to stop, but a policeman was waving traffic around the roadworks and I’ve seen them throw punches at people who don’t obey their vague hand gestures. Even though my work was only about 50 metres away, I had to take a detour through the Comoro Markets, all the way back to busy Comoro Road, then all the way back around again.
I kept thinking about the kitten, about how the humane thing would probably be to go back and run over it until it died, or to ask the police officer to shoot it if he had a gun. Given my language skills, that would be a pretty risky request to make.
It took me 30 extra minutes to finally get back around to the office. I parked and then was absorbed in all manner of menial tasks that should have been done weeks ago and the kitten slipped from my mind.
When I was driving home from work I noticed it was gone. I hoped it didn’t have to wait too long for someone to help it, but it was probably more likely that it got picked up by one of the stray dogs.
People here are always distracted by bigger problems.
But I still felt guilty.