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Diamonds And Dust: 28 - Finding The Cat

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the disasterous consequences of a hunt for a missing cat.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

One guy got a kitten from someone in town and brought it out to Affenrucken as he thought it would be a good idea to have a pet. If Ben the cook could have a dog, why couldn’t he have a cat?

So he brought the kitten out and kept it in his room and left the window open so that it could get in and out when it wanted. He got food for it from the dining room, and it soon became a familiar sight around the single quarters. I can’t remember its name, but it was a rather cute and cuddly thing.

One day about three months later, K_ can’t find his kitten which has grown to almost full size by now. We all start looking but can’t find him. The next day the cat is still not around, and we start thinking that perhaps a jackal or a strandwolf has taken the poor thing.

A few days later, which was our Sunday off, we are all sitting in the rec room relaxing and some of the guys are having a few wines, when someone says, “Hey, guy. Did you hear that?”

“No, what?”

“That sounded like a cat. Listen.”

So we all keep quiet and sure enough we can faintly hear the meow of a cat. We start walking around trying to track the sound and finally trace it to somewhere in the ceiling. We figure out how to get into the ceilings and eventually find a hatch to the ceiling in the passage. We move a table and a chair, and one of the guys climbs up with a torch to have a look, but can’t see anything. We call to the cat, but it doesn’t respond or come out.

So K_, who has had four or five large glasses of wine, decides that he will go up into the ceiling and look for his cat. He climbs up and starts crawling along the ceiling trying to avoid falling through. After about ten minutes he comes back down.

“Can’t see him anywhere.”

So a few others who have been fortified by wine and are not afraid of anything decide to climb up and help him. K_ downs a big sip of wine and climbs back up in to the ceiling. There are now four or five half pissed guys crawling around the ceiling with torches calling out to the cat and generally making so much noise that no-one can hear a thing.

The inevitable happens, and one of the guys slips and comes crashing through the ceiling. Not more than five seconds later another falls through a bit further down. A minute later another body comes hurtling through the ceiling. It’s becoming a procession. There are bits of plasterboard and dust and junk everywhere. The place is a shambles.

The others climb down without destroying anything else, and we try and clean up the mess and throw all the debris into a big pile outside. There are three huge gaping holes in the ceilings of the rec room and passage.

We tell Ben the cook that evening and he has to get maintenance out the next day to replace four or five ceiling panels. We all end up having to chip in a share to pay for the damage.

To make it even worse the cat wasn’t even in the ceiling, but was accidentally locked in one of the cupboards in the rec room, where it had been snoozing.

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