Friday, August 06, 2010

Dog days

A few days after my father died, a stray started to visit us. She'd wag her tail, flirt a bit about coming in and behave in the most Rum Tum Tugger-ish way. Never ate anything but bread and turned her nose up at rice or leftovers. If she ate at all, it had to be fresh stuff and something exciting or she wouldn't bother.

What this has to do with my father is this: though he was as sick as a (don't say it. Don't say it. It's rude and inappropriate). Though he was a very sick man, his was an immensely strength-giving presence. So that, even when he needed help to walk, we never felt the need for any additional protection of any kind. Long before we had neighbours, people used to ask if we oughtn't to have guard dogs, and we laughed.

So when he was no longer there but the dog was, it was reassuring, and for some reason, in mind the two events were inextricably linked. No logic there, I admit, but there it was.

On Wednesday, some long pending thing that was knotted and messy since my father's death, was resolved. I couldn't really believe it. In fact, I spent the afternoon looking as if doom had paid a visit.

Yesterday, in the morning, we found a dog curled up in one part of a sari that was hung out to dry in the verandah because it was raining outside. My mum tried to shoo her out and away from the sari but she looked up and put her head back down. I went to see what the matter way, because through the window it looked as if her eyes were cloudy.

They were. Also, a large part of her intestines were hanging out. She had bled all over the verandah and the place was crawling with ants.

We called Blue Cross, which promised to send a rescue van. We fed her some warm milk with bread soaked in it. She got up on shaky and shivering legs to devour the small bowl of food. The air smelled of wet dog and blood.

When the rescue van came, the man said the dogs were in heat and it could be because of that. Raped dog, I thought. But he took one look at her and said, this is something else. He didn't say they'd put her down, but that is what they have done.

I was distraught the rest of the day. It was one real, suffering dog; but in my head, she was also symbolic of another kind of end. I told myself all day that this was wrong, that it was stupid to think of my father in this context, but it was roughly equivalent to telling myself to use a nail-cutter when all my teeth are handy.

I don't really know how to conclude this. There are no homilies to hand. Why a dog that was shortly about to die reminded me of my father is something I'd rather not spell out. I feel embarrassed enough as it is.

Oh, this dog was the first one's progeny from a recent litter. rip, nameless one.


Banno said...

As long as the connections that your mind makes comfort you, ease your grief a little.

Poor dog.

Mani said...

Oh Dala, I'm so sorry. I don't think your connection is inappropriate at all ...

My neighbor had 3 dogs -- each one of them died a month before the owner died (of a sudden cancer). It seemed as if they knew, and cleaned out before he upped and went.

Now, this story is quite different from the one you write of, but I think I know what I mean. It seems logical to me that there would be a connection.

There is no closure, no erasure, only richness and time.

rip familial one, thanks for being visible then, and thus it is now.

km said...


Where are the happy dog stories?

sumana001 said...

It's not inappropriate, I know. Can't say anything more. Take care.

Space Bar said...

Banno: poor dog is right. The rest is so close to self-pity as makes no difference. :-)

Mani: only richness, I certainly hope.

km: I have a happy lizard story but I know you won't listen. What to do?

Sumana: Thank you. And you too.

dipali said...

I'm so sorry, for the dog, for your grief. The mind sees what it sees, and the heart feels what it does.
Poor poor dog. I hope it's at peace now.

Anindita said...

Oh Dala, I'm so sorry. I have a similar dog story...will tell you when we meet next. Hugs.

Sharanya said...

*Hugs* :(