My mother is afraid of black cats. She is not alone in her fear. Many cultures and civilizations throughout history have planted seeds of suspicion against black felines.
“Don’t let a black cat cross your path,” elders would whisper into my ear. “It’s bad luck!”
I remember driving my scooter to meet a friend one day. A guy on a motorbike, few miles ahead of me screeched to a sudden halt in the middle of the main street.
We were doing 50 mph. I would’ve crashed into his rear, but somehow inches away from him, I managed to get my feet on the road, aiding deceleration.
The biker had halted suddenly because a black cat had crossed his path.
He didn’t see any fault in causing a near fatal accident. Instead, he stood there waiting for someone else to cross the road—so he could proceed without fear of anything going wrong during his day.
He waited for someone else to cross the path before he did, so they could take the bad luck with them, instead.
I met a taxi driver yesterday, on my way home from an animal hospital. He helped me understand ideas on good luck and bad, on a day that I considered unlucky because my puppy was sick.
I had rushed my dog to an emergency hospital because I suspected something was stuck in his throat. Turned out to be kennel cough, something he’d likely picked up at a dog park.
I called an Uber and told the driver beforehand that I needed to take my puppy in his car. And if he was not okay with a dog, he should feel free to cancel the ride. That is the Uber policy for pets in New York City.
Most Uber drivers don’t mind dogs. What they don’t like is hairy dogs. Their seats get covered in tiny bits of dog hair and they end up getting bad ratings from passengers with dog allergy.
I make sure I carry a blanket to wrap my puppy. I can’t help it—I don’t have a car and my dog is a hairy monster.
The Uber driver agreed to take my puppy and I home. He told me it was not the male passengers who were finicky about dog hair. It was usually female passengers wearing black.
“I didn’t know that women would mind dog hair so much,” I told the driver, as I entered his car. “Cause most men are dressed in black suits in the morning as well. Thought they will be equally annoyed.”
“Nope, it’s always the women who complain, and give me a bad rating, if anything they don’t like gets stuck to their clothes.”
“I get it,” I said. “Women in New York put a lot of effort into looking a certain way. Guess, they don’t want to ruin it.”
“Yea, trust me, I am cool with dogs. My son, he has a Husky. Imagine the hair on his body.”
“Wow, I love Huskies. Really wanted to adopt one. May be, one day I will.”
“Yep, they are good dogs,” The driver said. “Dogs for me are lucky in many ways. If I see a dog shitting on the other side of the road when I start my business, my day always goes well. I make more money that day, without fail.”
“Wait—what? Is that really so?” I asked amused.
“I know you find it absurd. But, there are these signs in my life, almost like patterns…And they are specific to my life.” He explained.
“Like what’s your feeling about crows? Do you think they are good or bad for you?”
“I mean I don’t really know,” I said, thinking hard. “I think I am terrified of crows. I remember when I lived in Syracuse, when trees would be covered in snow, crows sitting on them, black silhouettes against white, looked like a scene out of a horror movie.
Don’t know about others, but I believe that in some countries croaking crows are said to bring in good news. I also know that in some other countries, crows are seen as a dark omen.”
“Guess, what happens to me every time I see a crow?” The driver said. “You might find it weird, but I’ll tell you anyway.”
“What, I asked?” Curious.
“Usually, if I am completely lost, trying to figure out the correct route—if I see a crow and follow it—I almost always find my way.”
“Haha, that is not weird at all.” I said. “I feel that way about red hibiscus flowers. Every time I see them, I feel blessed, as though I have been touched by something divine.”
“See, everyone has signs in their life,” The driver said. “Good signs and bad signs, lucky signs and unlucky signs. I think some things have a certain meaning in some people’s lives and just the opposite in someone else’s.”
“Yes, like my mother,” I agreed with the driver. “She is afraid of black cats. She has been all her life. She went so far as to return kittens my friends had gifted me when I used to live with her. But, now she has to live with not one but two!”
“How did that happen?” The driver asked, suddenly more interested in my tale.
“My brother’s wife adopted two beautiful black cats, just before they got married. Then they moved in with my parents. Naturally, the cats came along.”
“How is she coping with the cats now?” He asked.
“I think she has fallen in love with them,” I explained. “She won’t admit it, but I know she has. The other day she posted a photograph of the two on Facebook. They were prancing about on her bed. She was sitting right beside one, looking at the cats with wonder in her eyes.”
“I think that is a positive sign, don’t you?” He asked.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Trust me, it is one. I have been studying signs all my life. Did I tell you my story about banana peels?”
© Story by FOB-ISH.COM; Featured image of Cat at Full Moon by Pixabay; Second Image of black cat by Helena Lopes; Third Image of black Crow by Tom Swinnen