During the first days I lived in Carnot, Central African Republic, a stranger drove up to my house on a motorcycle, handed me a woven plastic bag, and sped off down the footpath. Inside, curled at the bottom, with round scared eyes, was a little black and white kitten.
He ran and hid under my bed and didn't come out for a couple of days. I had never owned a pet before and didn't really know what to do. I didn't have any milk. He didn't seem interested in eating the food my neighbor cooked. I named him Flip-Flop.
Sometimes Flip-Flop would be gone for days and come back with his face full of scabs. Mostly, I was intimidated by his unpredictable nature and the strange growths that would periodically erupt under his fur. Once, when I came home during a rainstorm, Flip-Flop accosted me at the door, baring his teeth and hissing, threatening to attack. But sometimes we were friends, and I would pet him, and he would purr.