A Parisian Cat


I made it to the school just in time. The session’s facilitator and the second speaker were already in the classroom waiting for the students to be brought in by their teacher. The second speaker was Rosemary; dressed in trousers and shirt in shades of red. She’s probably in her late sixties with features that presented a sweet and friendly type of person.

Rosemary and I were speaking to a class of year 6 students about our faith story as part of an interfaith school programme run by 3FF. We each took around 5-7 minutes to tell our story and then answerd the students’ questions that could be specifically on on stories of or our faiths in general. Thankfully, 3FF’s facilitator does a great job with the smooth running of these sessions.

In these sessions, I find many of the students’ questions insightful and some had made me dig deep and reflect upon my own situation, subhnallah. So it is not only the students who do the learning! I also learn from the other speaker(s) who attend on the day. It could be a new fact or perspective or an interesting thought sparked from our conversation.

This session was no different. In her story, Rosemary brought a special object. A small object that looked like a frame of an animal wrapped in a black velvety ribbon. Rosemary told us that her object used to have a long tail and a bright green collar.   This was Rosemary’s cat from Paris.

Sixty odd years ago, Rosemary and her mum visited Paris and before their return went souvenir shopping. Rosemary’s mum told her that she could choose anything she liked and little Rosemary chose this little Parisian cat.  I can imagine the puzzled look on her mum’s face but evidently she bought her daughter what she asked for. Who would’ve thought that that cat would make it to a primary school in Kingston many years later.

The students were fascinated with how old the cat was and were doing some calculating to figure that out. What fascinated me was the reason that made this cat special. Rosemary explained that the cat symbolised her freedom to choose. Her mum gave her an opportunity to choose and accepted that choice. That’s it. A simple act by a parent on holiday made an indelible mark on their child’s perception of themselves and their world.

I wonder if we consider the impact we have on the life of others. Do we appreciate that our existence creates ever expanding ripples in the ocean of life? What would we hope and wish those ripples to carry with them?


The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Do not regard any good deed as insignificant, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.” Reported in Muslim


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