10:00 pm. Mishu, our cat, goes outside. In 5 minutes, he comes back to the door, a dead mouse in his mouth. “Don’t scold him,” my wife tells me. “He’s done his job.” He just murdered a mouse because he could do it.
6:00 am, 8 hours after the “mouse event.” Mishu meows to go outside. I let him go. In 2 minutes, I hear a terrible sound, of an animal in great distress. I get out, but I don’t see the crime scene. I only see Mishu, running like there is no tomorrow. I don’t realize it at the moment, but he has a bad wound next to his mouth, and he is bleeding. Some larger animal attempted to murder him because it could do it.
Two similar events. Two fights between animals, fights in which the stronger one attempted to murder the weaker. In the first, the strong one was applauded; in the second, the potential death of the weaker produced sadness and worry. When I think of Mishu’s suffering while his jaw was in the mouth of his attacker, my hearts shudders. I don’t really feel much for the mouse–it does not even cross my mind that the death of the mouse would be the occasion for any feeling of compassion toward it. Is it only because Mishu is “ours”? Or because I do not like mice?
Crime and punishment… There must have been a purpose in Mishu “studying” the book with this title a few days ago. We can all find justifications for Napoleons, for Raskolnikovs, except when the old pawnbrokers, the Alyona Ivanovnas, are us.