Biloo Changes Their Mind
The people of Nepal are known throughout the world for their kindness and generosity of spirit. There is just a harmony that is natural to the environment. The women artisans who make our beds and toys are no exception; they are talented, kind, ambitious and hard-working. But like much of the population of Nepal, they consider cats inauspicious, and for the most part, stay away from them. So it is understandable that they would consider the products of all their hard labor to be a little on the frivolous side. Unfortunately, it’s nothing new for artisans in developing countries to be making items that they wouldn’t buy for their own families, but to be making it for cats must be particularly vexing. That said, the women have treated it as mostly amusing that we in the west would treat our pets to such luxuries.
So when the women discovered one morning that a grey tabby cat had snuck into our finishing room and snuggled up in one of our caves, they were none too happy. Then they discovered that she had given birth to three kittens. Perhaps if it had just been the cat, they would have shooed her off. Maybe it was a maternal instinct that kicked in, but Biloo (Kitty in Nepali), and Chick, Nee and Tsum (One, Two and Three in Tibetan) have wormed their way into everyone’s hearts. The care and affection the women have for them has taken everyone by surprise, themselves most of all.
The vet has visited and given them the all ok; they will be vaccinated and fixed. He told the women how to feed and take care of them. Fresh, homecooked food is regularly made and given in precise portions. The cat family has dozens of beds and more toys than they could play with in their whole lives. The women make sure their small children, who are regularly at the workshop, treat their new residents with respect and love. Biloo and her babies want for nothing.
Surely this is how change happens. In small increments, radiating out from one person to those around them. Their personal experience with Biloo changed a cultural belief that these women had ingrained in them from birth. At the end of the day, it was empathy that created this change. And their children will grow up with a different understanding than their parents.
In today’s polarized world, we expound and argue and come away frustrated at not being able to make others see our point. Perhaps we can all take a cue from Biloo and the women of Nepal.
“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” HH the Dalai Lama