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

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