Above the Monastery in Petra, signs direct visitors to some of the best views. “Best View in Petra,” boasts one. “Best Panorama,” cries another, like street vendors selling their wares. One simply shouts, “VIEW.” That one had moved since last time, as had its little tea tent, quiet two years ago except for the few of us and a kitten. Abandoned now, it stood on the brink with a clear view of the cliffs below.
We scrambled instead towards the Best View in the World.
It was a very good view. There was also, of course, a small cat.
“Her name is Shakira,” the young woman told us. “She’s pregnant. Here, come and have some tea.”
We sat in the tent on the mountaintop drinking tea and watching with Shakira’s person as the rest of the tourists milled about, came and went, viewing the view, seeing the sights. We talked about people and places we knew.
Shakira hung about, familiarly.
“You know,” I said, “she looks a lot like the kitten I met two years ago there,” pointing to the abandoned hilltop VIEW. We looked at one another: Shakira, her person, and me.
I pulled out my phone, found a photo marked, “Petra View Cat.”
We looked again: Shakira, her person, me. It was the same cat. Shakira’s person said, “Look at the date!” It was the same day, two years removed. We laughed. What were the chances?
We left as old friends. “I’ll have to come back and see the kittens,” I said. “Will you come back soon?” she asked. “I don’t know. I hope so.”
“Do me a favour,” Tamam said; “take my phone down the hill with you and drop it off with the guy in the cafe. It needs charging.” So on the way down a hill a few thousand miles from home, I found Ibrahim and dropped off a stranger’s phone, speaking the names with ease, as though we knew one another, because of the connection of a cat remembered, recognized, revisited, reviewed.