To say that my heart is in a million little pieces would be an absolute understatement. I lost my second companion of the past decade, but I remember bringing him home as if it was yesterday.
A year on after Joey’s passing, we wanted a friend for Tim.
The vet directed us to a lady with a German Shepherd puppy who was the runt of the litter, and every other puppy had been adopted.
My darling little man was a quiet, yet restless little boy who didn’t even trust anyone picking him up. We quickly nicknamed him Squirmy, for the sheer amount he wriggled.
After Joey left us, Timothy was alone for a year – and so we had decided to bring on a dog as a companion. Although he was always friendly, we were unsure how he’d take to a new puppy intruding on his territory. But in Timmy, Dusky would find a mentor. He’d fight with him, but when Dad or Mum or someone else disciplined Dusky, Timmy would stand in between. The two became firm friends and Dusky was perhaps just as bereft as us when Timothy left us in 2014.
Only one person could walk him without trouble. Raju Kamble uncle, who was also the only person allowed to bathe him.
I named him Dusky after a special influence in my life and somehow, it suited him. A wriggly, wormy little puppy with his still-floppy ears, he didn’t have to grow into that lupine name.
Somehow, it just fit.
Chasing pigeons was somehow a LOT of fun. Chasing people even more so. Ripping the seat off someone’s jeans was amusing (to everyone except the poor man it happened to).
Dusky, doosk, triscuit. They all became nicknames that rolled off the tongue.
Bacha, dumdum (we’re not Bengali, no!) also worked.
Ferocious outside, you were always a little baby in the end. Curled up on my lap until you were nine years old.
That warm body fast asleep and snoring (and occasionally farting) on my lap, your dog-breath just before you licked my face. Every memory comes flooding back in fits and bursts.
Suddenly, I’ll wake up or think of how a ‘Dusky – see SHOO!’ would make you run to the gate wondering what it was. It was always nothing but a joke.
I will forever miss the tenderness with which you’d grab mutton and chicken bones from my hands, and the roughness with which you’d grab chapatis.
Your inability to catch was always funny, and so was how you threw Parle-G right back to me when I was feeding you.
Kicking fallen coconuts in the garden around, pretending I was David Beckham and you, you were Gigi Buffon, goalkeeper extraordinaire, and somehow you knew exactly how to keep.
But it wasn’t just the games. It was the fact that we grew up together. 16 to 25 is a long time, sweetheart, just not long enough. It was how much you saw me through, you and Tim together. All the hurt, all the gallons of tears, tears that won’t stop anymore as I write this.
Both of us, the slightest sound outside the door or from the road waking us out of our stupors. Right now, perhaps I don’t want to think of, or remember, going to my balcony and shouting “sssh…. Dusky!” and waiting for you to look up and smile from the porch. Or shouting “sweetheart, who’s that” and you running to the gate to see, because you thought you had to protect me.
Even the smell of your flatulence became familiar, my darling. A quick ‘surprise’ when we were sitting at the computer, or reading, or playing some guitar. Speaking of music, you were always a lovely harmonizer, singing along with the piano, the harmonica, all of it.
There was always, always nothing but love in those sweet dark hazel brown eyes of yours, my love, even when you wanted to grab my towel, momma’s hanky, Appa’s shorts, anything, really.
Hearing you whine when we left the house, or when I left the city, the country, that, that was the most heartbreaking sound. Your sadness. Your pain. It never got easier to leave you, my darling, and now that you’re gone it never will.
That yellow marble porch is empty, now, your warm body and its memories mere ghosts there, still in the air.
One month ago
You were not ‘fine’. Age had begun to show, but illness was nonexistent. You were sprightly, just not as before. Chasing me around the garden. Running up the stairs when you heard your name.
That leap of happiness when I saw you, and you me, when I was in the car on the way from the airport. Ma told me your energy levels seemed to have multiplied since. Dog drool is the best bath I could have asked for, sweetheart. And cradling you was the best ever feeling.
It hurt every time I went to the store and you thought I was leaving. Your cries will never, ever leave my head. And actually leaving hurt me mortally.
Did I know that was the last time I would see you, sweetheart? I did not. I told you as I left (and hid my suitcase), that I would come back and see you again very quickly.
The apologies I want to send out for not being there for the last two weeks, when it got bad for you, my sweetheart, I wish you could read them but I know there’s no way to say any of this to you. I wish I had been there when it got painful, when it became hard for you to do all the things you were doing just fine a month ago.
Home, home will be painful. There’s nobody to frighten the pigeons with anymore. No pitter patter of claws on brick and marble. No little munchkin crawling onto me and licking my face anymore.
No sound anymore when I shout DUNKIN! Nothing to come running to the gate every. single. time.
Maybe it has been the third time since I lost a pet. Whoever said one gets used to it, or it gets easier, lied. Completely. It never really does, and every single time, it’s like a little piece of your heart is taken away somewhere. A little scar, as it were, a scar you carry your entire life.
Your passing, my dear darling, has closed a chapter of sorts in our lives. The three of us, I think, will struggle to regroup.
But I will still hear your paws running to the gate, feel them on my skin, remember the smell of your fur, your wet nose in my ear. Those, and you, will never fade away, my dearest Dusky. I love you.