Tuesday morning at the wet market
A small black and white cat is stretched out on the steps of the fruit store, daring people to climb over it to enter. Around the corner of the shop, the elderly owners are sitting with their knees spread to secure large blue vats of water in which they are washing mountains of pale beansprouts. The cat's black eyelids are curled up as if it is smiling. Maybe it is dreaming of the body of the naked chicken, dangling headless from its hook, in the open air butcher's shop next door. As if aware of their fate, the hens in the wire chicken coops stacked against the wall of the fruit store facing the cat are unusually still and silent, their bright eyes gleaming as they stand on top of each other inside their cages. With a swoop, the elderly lady shopkeeper throws out the water from the vat across the street. Triggered into action, the other storeowners come out to the street with buckets and pails full of wastewater, and the worn cement paving emanates smells of fish guts and animal blood.
The cat stretches its front legs and wriggles its white belly, but its eyes still remain smiling in sleep.