Aslan and Akira came into my life two weeks ago. I was walking down Chingford Mount High Street when I saw a picture in a charity shop window and stopped to look. It was of a donkey that had been saved from a slaughter house. Beside it was a photo of two kittens. Someone had written underneath it, ‘brother and sister need good home.’
‘They were thrown down a garbage chute from the 14th floor.’ said the owner of the shop, from the doorway.
Hearing that, my heart dropped fourteen floors. Whilst I had no intention of taking them home because Sophia Loren (my cat) would have had a fit, I said ‘Awwww, let me see them.’
They were in a cage in the back room. When I looked in on them, they meowed with such anguish, I melted on the spot. ‘I’ll take them,’ I gushed.
Sophia did have a fit when I brought the kittens back but I figured she’d eventually run out of hiss!
I named the boy Aslan and the girl Akira and their characters shone through from the start. They are as different as chalk and cheese. Aslan is the gentle one. He lets Akira sleep on his head and yank him off the scratching pole by his tail. He hasn’t got Akira’s daredevil streak or her agility, but when he lands on his butt, shakes it off with a ‘I’m gonna try harder’ meow and chases behind to try her next stunt.
Akira is the naughty one. She’s a born actress who craves attention and who loves to travel on my shoulder. I can tell what she’s thinking because she has a very expressive face. This keeps her out on trouble when she tries to blame Aslan for her wrong doings – but how to scold when she bats such innocent eyes!
I started writing books about cats when I was seven; after a kitten I named Pirate turned up outside my house and marched into the hall as though he owned the joint. I used to write about our imaginary adventures together and read them to him. You might laugh but he loved listening and would hiss when I said ‘Here comes the villain.’ Pirate was run over by a car. I buried him in our garden and continued to read to him for years.
Sophia Loren has her own blog and I’m sure her next will be about her urge to throw Aslan and Akira off a cliff! In my case, the kittens have inspired me to write another children’s book – and the story line is already taking shape in my head.