“When I found out that her name was Cumparsita, I knew it was meant to be. Cumparsita is the name of the most popular tango. It’s the tango you think of when you think of tango. And I have danced most of my life.”
Marina Gross, a fifth semester Business, Language and Culture student at CBS, describes the first meeting with the little cat, Cumparsita at the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary in Rome. She met her in October last year while on holiday.
On the table between Marina Gross and me, is a book entitled ‘La Cumparsita’. The book isn’t about tango, but about the cat, and the author is Marina Gross. But there’s a twist.
“I wouldn’t write a book about her, but as her. So the book is written from Cumparsita’s perspective. Telling it from her perspective adds something to the story, I think,” says Marina Gross.
Marina Gross is 22 years old, and is currently doing an internship at a jewelry company and works at a health food shop. And now she can add writer and cat owner to her CV too. This wasn’t exactly on the cards a little over a year ago.
It takes two to tango
Before Marina Gross went on holiday to Rome, she watched several YouTube videos about what to see and do in Rome. One suggestion was to visit the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary.
“I’m a cat lady, so naturally, I just had to go. I actually visited two days in a row,” explains Marina Gross.
The sanctuary has been around since the 90s and takes in abandoned, injured and stray cats, and tries to find new homes for them as soon as they have recovered.
When Marina Gross visited the sanctuary on the first day, she noticed a cat. It was a little shy and walked with a limp due to a car accident. But somehow it looked familiar.
“She looked exactly like the cat we used to have when I was a child, and I immediately came to think about that cat and all the nice memories I had of her. Looking at Cumparsita and petting her, just brought me back to my childhood,” she says.
The meeting with Cumparsita had an impact on Marina Gross. It was as if the little Roman cat wouldn’t leave her even though she had already left Rome.
“I kept thinking about Cumparsita when I came home. And I wasn’t supposed to get a cat at all. But I ended up contacting the sanctuary and I told them that I wanted to adopt Cumparsita,” she says.
One of the workers at the sanctuary flew to Hamburg with Cumparsita where Marina Gross picked her up and brought her back home to her flat in Copenhagen.
From idea to book
When Marina Gross visited the sanctuary in Rome, she asked about Cumparsita’s history. How did she end up at the sanctuary?
The workers there explained that Cumparsita had been abandoned along with her three kittens, who were taken to the sanctuary. The cats were released again later. However, Cumparsita was involved in a car accident and was taken back to the sanctuary to have her wounds seen to.
For a long while, Marina Gross had wanted to write a book. However, she wasn’t clear what subject to write about. That’s until Cumparsita came into her life.
“At first it was just for the fun of it. I like to write, so I just gave it a try, and the story just seemed to unfold itself,” says Marina Gross and continues:
“As I don’t know all of Cumparsita’s story, I have incorporated parts of my own story, but seen and experienced from Cumparsita’s point of view.”
Marina Gross started writing the book in December 2017 and published it on November 23 via Amazon.
The book not only came about because of Marina Gross’ ambition to write; the book also has a special purpose, she explains:
“I will donate the money earned from the book to the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. I want them to have it because it’s touching what they do, and I want to create awareness about how we treat animals and do my part in solving the problem,” she says.
A journey towards a better self
Juggling work and studies left little time for Marina Gross to write her book, so most of the 223-page book was written during her summer vacation. And although it was easy to write, there were some tough times too.
“The story is very emotional – not only in itself, but for me too, as I have included some personal details about myself in the story,” she says and continues:
“I have had time to reflect on how I am as a person and my own life.”
Now that the book is out, it stands as a symbol of Marina Gross’ hard work. Something that will come in handy later in life.
“Writing this book has given me a confidence boost. Whenever I face a challenge, I remind myself that I wrote a book on my own and that I believe in what I’m doing,” she says.
Writing and publishing the book, however, hasn’t satisfied her hunger for writing. Far from it.
“I definitely want to write another book. Maybe not about cats, though,” she says.