My Mother Forces Me To Draw Cats

Millie Ho With Cat Drawing

My mother forces me to draw cats.

I draw them for her birthday, for my birthday, for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, and that time I left home for university for the first time.

“Why don’t you get a cat if you like them so much?” I asked her once.

She shook her head. “Cats are too complex for me.”

I took it at face value at the time, but saw into her soul years later, on a drive to a restaurant, when she started showing the cat drawings to relatives who couldn’t have cared less.

“I call this one lao hu,” she said, pointing to a cat with stripes in its fur and teeth as sharp as a fishbone comb.

Lao hu, tiger in Chinese, the symbol of war and strength.

It wasn’t the complexity she feared, I realized.

It was the attachment.

Cats are complex, even more so when they die.