“Having Bob gave me a chance to interact with people… Cats are notoriously picky about who they like. Seeing me with my cat softened me in [others] eyes. It humanized me. Especially after I’d been so dehumanized. In some ways it was giving me back my identity. I had been a non-person; I was becoming a person again.”
There is a very common saying that “a woman is another woman’s worst enemy” however, over the span of 21 years of my existence I’ve realized that every human fits that description: regardless of their caste, creed, colour, gender or any other parameter that they can come up to distinguish themselves by.
A Street Cat Named Bob, though proves my point, but at the same time humanizes every aspect of the hate and shun we humans possess and spread. In dark times like such, where an orange’s mood swings decide whether the world would witness a nuclear war or not, it bring some warmth; you can’t help but smile a little, shed a tear and believe that in the end it’ll all turn out to be okay.
In my life I’ve read a couple of hundred books and I’ve cried only twice. This book marked the third occurrence of a very rare event.
What is the about? Well a man, a boy really, who lost his way in the world because of a broken family finds an unconditional support and a friend in a cat he named Bob. From there starts a journey of second chances for both of them. A man finds his best friend in a ginger and a ginger finds home in a man. Two broken beings giving each other a reason to be a better version of themselves.
The story narrated by James is based on true events. And once you’re done with the book you’d want to hug him and tell him how much you appreciate someone like him not giving up. It’s his sheer honesty that moves you.
More than that, it makes you question the ideals by which our society lives by. The book perfectly mirrors the elitist ideology that we blindly follow. “People don’t want to listen. All they see is someone they think is trying to get a free ride. They don’t understand I’m working, I’m not begging. I was actually trying to make a living. Just because I wasn’t wearing a suit and a tie and carrying a briefcase or a computer, just because I didn’t have a payslip and a P45, it didn’t mean that I was freeloading.” Does that not hit you like someone splashed cold water on your face to wake you up?
Every human being has the right to choose what life they want. Whether they make it or not is highly dependent on a combination of probabilities and luck. It is not for us to assume someone’s character based upon where one ends up in life. Because if it is, Harvey Weinstein’s character should be pristine. Sadly, that is not the case.
It is essential for any reader of this book to understand the plight of James. The world for him is a constant reminder of how he’d failed miserably at life. He believed that the only escape from reality was the high he got from drugs. Sadly, we as a society won’t take onus of that. What we would take an onus of is to “get the streets clean of junkies”
The beauty of book lies in the utmost submission of James to his friend Bob. How often would one give up his food to feed his pet? How often would someone spend money worth his monthly food supplies over a cat’s vaccine? I sit in the comfort of my home as I type this and the idealist in me believes I would but sadly my conscience knows: I wouldn’t.
“I’m not a Buddhist but I like Buddhist philosophies, in particular. They give you a very good structure that you can build your life around. For instance, I definitely believe in karma, the idea that what goes around, comes around. I wondered whether Bob was my reward for having done something good, somewhere in my troubled life.” In the most earnest manner James told the world what Bob meant to him. And it isn’t just this line, but the whole book is a testament of his gratitude for his Bob. The one who gave him a chance to be a man again in a world which made him a shadow deemed fit to crawl in dark.
It isn’t a book about a man seeking sympathy. It isn’t a success story about a man who made it from rags to riches. It hardly is the story where a man found the love of his life.
However what it is, a story that celebrates life; all parts: good and bad. It is a story of unconditional companionship in the most unlikely situations.
If you’re way too lazy to flip the pages, you catch it on Netflix.
Movie Caution and Spoiler Alert: Due to the licensed ‘creative liberty’, there are some contrasts in the book and the movie. Strictly for research purpose (and not because deep down I’m a crazy cat lady) I have been through both. While the movie is enjoyable, there are certain frames that have no backing from the book.
For instance, how James came to name the ginger as Bob is starkly different than what is portrayed on screen. Furthermore, the book talks about James and Bob while the movie romanticizes with the idea of James, Bob and his girlfriend Belle. Fun fact: the book refers to Belle as someone whom James once dated but it never worked out.
While the book is Hollywood-ized, it still makes a good watch in this chilly weather. And make sure you tweet back to A Street Cat Named Bob. Maybe then if you get a chance to meet him in person, he’d give you a high five.