Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A dog and a death

once one of the eighteen dogs my grandmother adopted
got trapped in a snare meant for rabbits
we saw it coming back to our house swaying
and we thought it had drunk toddy again,
at the liquor shop at the corner where the drunken men lovingly caressed these animals and fed them chicken, fish, mutton and let them drink for free,
but then grandma screamed and I saw what she saw
its neck cut, leaving a thick trail of blood, swaying with pain and half crawling, it came towards us
my grandmother left what she was doing, washing vegetables I think, and ran to the mangy dog as if her life depended on it,
calling her "my princess, my darling", shrieking "who did this to you" and lamenting
it collapsed as soon as it saw her as if it had mustered that little energy
only to reach her lap
there it lay, its neck mangled and my grandma's sari bloodied
she crooned into its ears as it lay looking into her eyes
it never ceases to amaze me how much animals love us
that they were willing to crawl in pain only to catch a last glimpse of us
after sometime, it got up and walked on wobbly legs, still bleeding, still in pain but now with its head up,
to a corner of the outhouse at the back
"don't go there", grandma said, as she got up, "she deserves to die with dignity"
an hour later it lay rigid, devoid of life, stiff, but peaceful
if only as humans we had the same choice
I remember seeing a great uncle when he lay sick, how he had sores on his back from laying on the hard cot all the time
how ants had bitten his toes off and scabs covered his legs
how the stench of urine permeated the room, his clothes, my clothes, everything
and how he looked away while asking his wife for the bed pan
and when he passed away they said he didn't want to go
he was afraid and thrashed in fear and tried to fight death
and grabbed at his wife's hair and hands
and clawed at her face
while she wept and said 'go, go now'
how sad and how horrible that even a dog makes peace with its ending
but we as humans are full of regrets and guilt, all our lives, until the very end

Of fathers and daughters

my friend's father passed away a few days ago
with a newborn in her arms how could she come all the way to India to bid farewell to the man
she loved
sometimes fathers teach their daughters the worst things
they teach their daughters to trust men
and they fill their daughters' minds with the dreams that all men will treat them like princesses
so that when life deals a blow and the daughters get men who treat them like trash
they start hating their fathers for making them so gullible
for making them fall in love with the wrong men
this is how fathers trick their daughters
by loving them unconditionally
by putting up with their daughters tantrums
and listening to the words their foolish daughters hurl in a moment of rage for something as simple as not letting them go out to party
fathers trick their daughters
by crying like 'little girls' on the day the daughters get married
and imploring the husbands' families to please forgive their daughters should they do anything foolish
like trying to stand on their own feet
fathers teach their daughters everything that is wrong
like expecting love and respect and admiration and adoration from the men they meet later in life,
as grown up women
and then fathers leave their daughters to the mercy of other men
and when the daughters want them, the fathers are nowhere to be seen
because they are too far away
and we, the daughters, know that telling our fathers about the awful things that happen to us would break their hearts
so we put up with it
and cry in our closets
and bathrooms
and think of why we had fathers who raised us with love and tenderness instead of hatred because now we cannot find men who can come close to loving us like our fathers loved us