I love houses with gardens so much, that I might, when I grow up, build a hut on a small patch of land so that I have at least a vast garden to play, to run, to light diyas in Diwali and most importantly, to give my pet dog, all the comfort and space it needs. I have everything predetermined. I will bring it home when it is just a pup. Then, maybe, I will have many years to love it. I will create memories with it, spoil it, scold it, hug it, watch it sleep and everything. Maybe, when I read a book, it will come and sit beside me, and then, I will know how great our friendship is. I have a name for it, too. It shall be called ‘Montmorency’ because it’s the name of my favourite dog from my favourite book – “Three Men in a Boat – (to say nothing of the dog)”. I live in dreams I daydream about. My dreams are tiny but still are dreams that matter to me. A loving pet dog is one of them. This time, I was closer to its coming true. I was almost there.
Circumstances in my favour, I was living in a house with a huge garden. It wasn’t my own but I was going to be there for quite a while. And by quite a while, I mean six months. We all have, at some point, seen pictures of people and heard about them before actually meeting them. Dodo wasn’t different. I saw him the first day in the garden. I tried going close to him but then as mom had told me, he was always afraid. He looked at me questioningly, before going away in the backyard. I understood that I was new to him (he hadn’t seen any picture of me) and was sure, that within a short while we will have each other as good friends. A week had elapsed but he stayed away as much as he did on the first day. A fortnight later, nothing was different. Now this, dear reader, I think, is the right time to tell you – Dodo was a dog but no less than a person. In fact, he was no different than a child, who is afraid of new people or even fellow dogs. I only saw him play and enjoy with his own mother. I began applying all the human tendencies to his behaviour and decided that running after him wasn’t going to work. I let him be by himself, hoping that he will, on his own come near me one day. Some days later, I realised, that this wasn’t going to work. It was time to have a new trick. He loved biscuits and toast.
Here’s something you need to know – Dodo was neither a pet nor a street dog. He was just living there in the garden since his birth with his mother. Sometimes, he would go out to eat while mostly, he preferred biscuits or toast. My cousins were fond of him even before me and had named him Dodo. What we have to focus upon is biscuits. Since first preferences are sought after the hardest, I made a policy for him. ‘Take away from my hand’ policy. I did not give him any biscuit unless he came to me and grabbed it from my hand. It worked. We were progressing. He would take the biscuits from me, go a little further, sit, and eat them. But as days passed, he began eating them then and there beside me. I wasn’t allowed to touch or caress him, but this was enough. It made me happy.
Then, he did a little nasty thing. He ran away when I went close to him. Yes, a typical example of ‘worse than a break-up’. That was it. I felt too bad. I had been treated that way before. I knew what it was. He would have never come to me if I had had no biscuits for him. I took not a minute more to think, and walked away. I never again, tried to seek him.
Another month passed. He had been unwell for a week. We knew he was nearing death. His health and appetite had weakened. His mother was nowhere to be seen.
What does death look like, of someone you consider very close to you but who might not look up to you in the same manner?
One morning, ‘Dodo died!’ were the first words I heard from mother. I got up feeling nothing. Dodo was gone. I didn’t know what emotion it had left in me. I had been a stone hearted girl, since I was scolded for crying when I was a child. Yet, I wasn’t feeling normal at all. I was sad, for sure. But I did not want to cry. I slept the whole day. I did nothing. I didn’t feel like going outside. Dodo had been taken away that afternoon. The garden would have reminded me of Dodo. Then, evening came. Mother told me to switch on the lights in the garage. I caught a glimpse of the garden. And standing there, I was answered