Issue 29 – Take a Break at Cat Café

by Jessica Lee (ELED Year 1 student 2020-2021)

Scorching sun, incessant pace, sheen of sweat evaporated under the boiling heat, condensed to droplets and crawled down the pedestrians’ chin, leaving a trail of saline.

Green light flared, noise pounded their eardrums, pulsating, ushering people to go faster, faster. Horns blared, impatience of drivers apparent, blending into the soup of hectic chaos.

Into the elevator, people squirmed, canned in body heat and sticky stench of sweat. With a “ding”, the doors creaked wearily and moved to the side. Out of the can we escaped.

Fingertips met the surface of a cool metal handle. A grip and a pull, fragrance of freshly brewed citrus tea, roasted coffee beans, rich chocolate and milk greeted the newcomers. Resting elegantly on top of the almond shoe cabinet was a grey cymric. Gently laying a hand between its ears, brushing the soft fur, it lazily lifted its head, amber glanced dully at the interference of its afternoon nap.

Inside the café, six square, wooden tables were placed along the sides. Customers sat or kneeled on plush cushions. Soft chatters filled the room. American short hair, persians, and a black tabby whose species I could not name padded between tables, occasionally receiving pats. Some would call them the “owners” of the shop – they’re not wrong – the way they held their head high, eyes scanning around, tails slowly flicking from left to right, you would have thought they owned the place.

Taking a seat at the left corner, the shopkeeper promptly set down a menu on the table. Pastel yellow paper with lovely kittens illustration was put in a laminating pouch. Light snacks and refreshments were printed in a neat font.

Orders taken, we scanned through the books and boxes of parlour games. Settling on Exploding Kittens, a modern board game of wit, strategy and luck, we relished the slight thrill of exchanging cards, laughters and silly banters.

Drinks served, tension of the game eased. Our conversation drifted everywhere, from college lives to random cat videos we saw the other days.

In between, we took sips of our drinks. My blood orange rose tea was held in a delicate glass teapot, faint ruby tinted the table. The teacup was ceramic with the shape of a chubby cat, black paint outlining its adorable smile, yellow collar adorning pure white. The tea emitted a sweet scent with a tinge of citrus and rose. Taking a slow sip, the tea was hot but not scalding in the tongue, fragrance amplified, the warmth flowed through the entire body.

Time slowed down in the cosy atmosphere, and it felt as if we had escaped the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, finally able to let out a sigh of relief.

Delightful moment it might be, enjoyable time flies. Albeit we longed to immerse in this stress-free atmosphere, the bubble popped, pulling us out back into reality.

“Dear customers, your one and a half hour is up,” reminded the shopkeeper.

Probably the cruellest moment of the day.

Despite the abrupt end to our escape from reality, the place would always be our haven amidst the perpetually restless lives.

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