Hosting a Croat and three kittens...

Lanh, [email protected] | .

LATELY 'my house had a stream of visitors' - perhaps it had connection with my son's wedding reception which was held at the end of September.

Last Saturday (October 10th) I was almost lost for words when a Croat stepped inside my house. She was Franka Gulin, 32, from Sibenik, Croatia but worked in China. She had a stint at China Radio International in Beijing and had been there for three years.

Franka was holidaying in Malaysia and during her stay here, her friend, Nelawati Ngadul from DBP with some companions brought her for 'sightseeing' and as Nelawati was my wife's friend, they choose to pay us a visit.

Subhanallah (Glory to God), I was least expected 'to have a Croat inside my house' ''thinking' of the Croats was not a positive one either...perhaps events during the Yugoslav particularly Bosnian war in early 1990-s painted ugly pictures in my mind about them.

During that time I was at a foreign desk of a daily newspaper; I edited and translated news on the conflict and fighting between the Bosnian Muslims, Orthodox Christian Croats and Serbs and splashed them on the pages of international section of the paper.

Regarding the war, Wikipedia noted that both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia were engaged in the early 1990-s Yugoslav wars, armed conflicts which followed the break-up of SFR Yugoslavia into five sovereign countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, and FR Yugoslavia (later broke up into Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo).

Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs (including Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs) fought each other exchanging alliances in a series of conflicts. The majority of the wars were fought on Bosnia–Herzegovina territory, where Croats established the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia.

However, after the wars Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia retained the same border they had during SFR Yugoslavia, and through the Dayton Accords, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two entities based on three constituent peoples: Republika Srpska (for Serbs) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (for Bosniaks and Croats). According to the CIA World Factbook, 7,269 Croatian refugees still live in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country has 131,600 internally displaced persons.

"Well, now I have a Croat inside my house; oh, on what subject am I going to talk to her," my mind kept on thinking and luckily (Alhamdulillah, all praise to Allah), 'it came suddenly into my mind' that the Croats were good in football and several years ago their national team had even appeared in a World Cup.

After exchanging greetings and making ourselves comfortable, I tried to attract Franka attention by telling her how I admired their football national team which had appeared in Euro and World Cups. She was interested and mentioned a few names of players such as Davor Suker which I too had heard.

Suker was the 1998 FIFA Word Cup tournament's top scorer which was held in France. This tournament was Croatia's first after gaining independence. Surprisingly Croatia finished third; it is interesting to note (for Malaysian team please wake up) on admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world but following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side rose to third place in the rankings!

Franka who claimed to be fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and of course Croatian; said she was fascinated to see the various races living harmony in Malaysia. "Your countrymen are so lucky, you don't have to go to China to see a Chinese or go to India to see an Indian," she said philosophically, perhaps thinking about her own country and region which was devastated by war between the Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs about two decades ago.

"As a journalist who had travel around the globe, my advise to people of diverse ethnics and religions to respect one another...that's the key of living in peace and harmony," she said.

Other than human beings, a few days ago my house was 'also visited' by a cat which brought along her three offsprings. It was usual for cats to bring their kittens to open places where they feel safe (had shelter) and they could have food after hiding their babies for some time.

My second son who is a medical student and his youngest sibling gave food, nursed and feed the tiny and thin kittens with milk. Unfortunately, one died and the remaining two were seen struggling for life after they seemed to be down with fever and had sore eyes.

One dawn when I opened the kitchen door to go the masjid for 'solat subuh' (fajr prayers), I saw the poor kittens taking shelter inside my son's sandal. What a 'cute scene'...I called my son to take their pictures, I tried not to disturb the 'poor thing' for I remembered a story about Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his favorite cat, Mu'izza.

It is told that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. awoke one day to the sounds of the 'adhan' (call of prayers) and when he began to dress himself; however, he soon discovered his cat Mu' izza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe.

Rather than wake her, the Prophet s.a.w. used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed...well I tried to followed the Prophet's step by not disturbing the 'sleepy cute little creatures' - ES

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