Like several Chinese men that I’ve seen over the years, he had a severe stoop, so that his head was level with his waist, a condition that I attribute to an absence of dairy products in the typical Chinese diet. He kept a lot of cats, perhaps a dozen or more, none of which appeared to have been spayed, and the only time I saw him walking around was when he was feeding them.
About a year ago, the old man disappeared. The tiny hut in which he lived, which must have been stifling in summer, was carefully locked up and abandoned, and I’ve not seen him since. He may simply have died, but he may have been rehoused; I don’t expect to find out which of these possibilities is the right one.
However, while I was away last summer, an anonymous artist decided to ‘decorate’ the hut with images of a cat and a dog as farmers (the area is still used to grow vegetables). It is probably a coincidence that this artist chose to paint a cat on the old man’s door, but it seems entirely appropriate. Looking at the images, I suspect that the artist meant to portray the dog as resting on its rake, but the impression I get from the folded arms and the closed eyes is that the two have just had a quarrel, so on this basis I would like to invite readers to provide possible captions to the photograph below.
Dog: “How dare you call my mother a bitch!”
The hut was demolished some time ago, probably by agents of Uncle Four, although the door on which the cat was painted is still on display nearby. However, further paintings of a dog and a cat have appeared recently on the concrete footpath that runs beside where the hut used to stand. It will probably be a long time before the cat man is forgotten.