Lady Susanna Montgomery

Nada Faris
4 min readApr 19, 2023

American University of Kuwait

Performing the opening for the American University of Kuwait’s Fikir AUK x KPS’s Open Mic Night, December 2016

You are not my mistake, Susanna.
You were already curled on a broken bench at Friday Market,
your gut full of bacteria,
struggling with infections and diarrhea,
when I met you.

I played no part in your nativity.

The tragic act of your trafficking
has nothing to do with me.

You were already dirty,
already paralyzed with fear and loneliness,
as racists rubbed your belly and argued about your price,
which was too steep for a gray rat drenched in ugly apathy.

The vendor said
just a month and a half,
but who’s to say if he’d been honest?

I know nothing of your heritage,
or your breed for that matter.

I only know that you emanated my own suffering,
that your expression on that broken bench aroused
something in me that had been dead for some time.

And all of a sudden,
I thought you were meant to join me on my journey
(a partner on the road of self-discovery)
to make me a better version of myself.

It dawned on me
when I purchased your carrier next.

I am not your mistake, Susanna.

I was already wreathing in agony and self-loathing,
the depths of my depression incomprehensible
for a cat like yourself.

You were never designed to cater to my needs,
and, anyway, I was more broken than the bench on which you sat.

So I tried to whitewash my decision,
to give you up and get rid of all your belongings.
I couldn’t stand thinking that I was somehow holding you
accountable for my happiness,
so I ushered you into your carrier,
boxed your paraphernalia,
and drove you over to my cousin’s,
(a veteran cat lady with eight felines, who’d said,
“I don’t mind making them nine!”).

But she couldn’t stand you either.
Her reasons different than mine.

You were too street, Susanna,
too disobedient for her preferences, and besides,
you had no “Himalayan” descent.

She called me to retrieve you after one night,
so I tried my best friend.

But her mother did not want to run into you at all
so they called a carpenter to fix a door in the hall to her bedroom
and hired a new domestic servant to take care of your excrement,
because they were not going to do it themselves,
and when everything was ready
— my heart two grams heavier —
my best friend’s father said
he used to torture animals when he was younger.

I did not want to risk finding out it was just said in jest.

Suzie… I’m sorry I dragged you into this.

Because the only “meant to be” in your story
ought to centralize your experiences, not mine.

How narrow-minded of me to believe that our journeys
were “destined to intertwine.”

A member from a Human Right’s group,
after a lecture on bipolar that his guys had set up,
called me Hitler when I told him I had followed your doctor’s
orders and spayed my pet.

He said that’s what the Nazis did to the Jews.

And then he carried on eating animals,
because I guess that’s what Human Rights activists do?

I don’t know what they do.

But here’s the truth, Susanna,
this world we made?
It does not acknowledge you.
Your purpose.
Your habitat.
Your happiness.

So I flipped when that member said
instead of spaying you, I should’ve
thrown you out onto the streets.

“She’d handle it,” he said,
“cats have been living there for years,”
and I cried for three days straight.

Because, I swear to you,
it was not an easy choice to make.
I had spent months researching
and full weekends tearing my hair out.
And I’m sorry if it puts me in a position
to make life altering decisions for you
but I can’t picture you eating from trashcans,
or starving to death,
limping on the sidewalk,
blind, pale, or god forbid,
immobile: roadkill.

So seeing as we are stuck together,
both flawed, both bent, I promise, Susanna,
whether our paths were fated to cross,
or whether this was only the hand of irony
lumping two incongruities together for a laugh,
that I would never prioritize my needs over yours,
or yours over mine.

We are two infants born in chaos,
crippled by a widespread madness called
but I choose to unknow it,
to start not from the summit of common sense,
Human Rights claptrap, and tradition,
but the twinning root underground.

I shall flounder along beside you
with a guiding rationale:
It is the connections we make on the way
that make us in return.

What it means to say: I am.

I was the MC for the event



Nada Faris

Kuwaiti writer interested in language, literature, identity, community, and creativity. Sharing notes from my 10-year journey.