In the apartment complex where I resided, everyone knew Ugly. Ugly was the resident tomcat who had seen better days. He loved three things in life: fighting, scavenging for food in garbage bins, and seeking affection. However, Ugly’s outdoor lifestyle had taken a toll on him.
Tomcat Ugly had only one eye, with a gaping hole where the other should have been. His left ear was also missing, and his left foot appeared to have been badly broken at some point, leaving it at an unnatural angle as if he was always turning a corner. His tail was nothing but a tiny stump, lost long ago, which he constantly jerked and twisted.
To make matters worse, Ugly was covered in sores that disguised his tabby fur. Whenever someone laid eyes on Ugly, the usual reaction was, “That’s one ugly cat!” Children were warned not to touch him, and adults would throw rocks at him or use a hose to chase him away.
Despite the mistreatment, tomcat Ugly always responded with unwavering forgiveness. He would stand his ground and not move until the cruel stranger gave up and left him alone, even curling up at their feet to show he meant no harm. When he saw children, he would run to them excitedly and bump his head against their hands, seeking their touch. If picked up, he would immediately start suckling on their shirt or ears, craving affection.
One day, Ugly extended his affection to the neighbor’s Huskies, but they responded with aggression and badly mauled him. I heard his screams from my apartment and rushed to his aid. By the time I reached him, it was clear that Ugly’s life was fading. I carried him home, fearing that my touch might cause him more pain. But then, I felt a familiar sensation – Ugly was suckling on my ear, bumping my hand with his head, and purring as he looked at me with his one golden eye.
Despite the immense pain and wounds, Ugly was only seeking a little bit of affection. In that moment, I saw Ugly as the most beautiful and loving creature I had ever encountered. He didn’t try to bite or scratch me, nor did he run away. He simply looked at me with trust, relying on me to ease his suffering. Ugly passed away in my arms before I could bring him inside, but I sat there holding him for a long time afterward, contemplating how one scarred and deformed stray cat had changed my perspective on the true meaning of purity of spirit and unconditional love.
Tomcat Ugly taught me more about giving and compassion than any number of books, lectures, or talk show specials ever could. While many people strive for wealth, success, popularity, and beauty, I will always strive to be like Ugly – a symbol of unwavering love and compassion.