I’ve been shoving this away for a long time now. The only way I make things real in my head is when I write about whatever has happened, and I refused to let go of you because how could I accept that you have left me? You never did. When I kicked you, when I pulled your tail, when I whacked your snout in an effort to make you leave the room or at least move away from me, you never did. And now, when you’re gone, I’m the one pulling your memory closer to me, because you were, and you are a part of me.
One of the most important people in my life told me something that hit only now. You’re not here now and you won’t be here again. But the memories I have of you, with you, are mine. They are bequeaths you left me, and no one can possibly take them away from me. That was the beauty of your existence too. By acknowledging me as your mistress and by giving me all your loyalty, love, affection and care, you had made yourself irreplaceable. You had made yourself one of the few points of gravity that kept me grounded.
You had such human eyes. I wouldn’t call them smart because you were, well, daft. But human eyes. Kind eyes. A lot of people questioned why, exactly, I acted like I did when I lost you; ‘Just a dog’, ‘you can buy another puppy’, and my personal favourite, ‘you can only feel for non-humans, can’t you?’. But what these people don’t realize is that you weren’t just a dog to me. You came to me during a phase in my life where I didn’t know if I was still human. I was a monster with an abject lack of empathy. You taught me so much.
You taught me to let go of grudges. To enjoy little things. To appreciate routine. To love unconditionally. To show love artlessly. To give all of myself. To demand love that I deserve. To want someone’s smile enough to make a fool of myself to extract it. To accept new people, but be wary enough to protect myself. You taught me how to be a better person and you taught me how to love. Funnily, most of the humanity I exhibit, I learned from a dog. I’m thankful for that, because people would have taught me with words. You, however, taught me by example and that’s why the lessons have stuck with me.
I’m going to have dogs after you. I had dogs before you. Some day, you’ll be a part of the data I’ll transfer from machine to machine, struggling to keep my youth alive through digital reminiscence. But there will be things I won’t forget. I won’t forget the month of research it took to narrow down on you, the first visit to the pet store as we searched for a beagle, the first time we met you, at 9pm, when you, a tiny, overfed, waddling puppy decided to choose us. The look on mom’s face when you went ahead brazenly, as though driven by an inherent instinct, and curled up into a ball on her feet. The first time you entered your new home, in a blue polythene bag, a tiny head poking out, almost too adorable to be real.
The most telling sign of you being my dog was the dog trainer’s reaction to you. He was a professional, and he gave up on you in a week, and all he said was ‘let him be, he’ll learn what he needs to, himself.’ There was a certain camaraderie you and I shared as the troublemakers of the house. And that’s what I’ll miss. In a house full of people with focus, determination and an innate sense of right and wrong, we were always mildly left of center. Our moral compasses, although aligned with each other, were slightly skewed from everyone else’s. Maybe the fact that you were too human for your own good, and I was, and am, not human enough, developed into a solidarity that I wouldn’t have given up for the world.
There were days you were my only friend, and you truly were good company. Not many friends stay when you push them away, but you did. You always did. You stayed with me when I actively tried to shoo you away. That was possibly the most important lesson you taught me; that I’m worthy and capable of loving and being loved. I’m still learning, and there are people I wish I could have introduced you to, because they’re showing me the truth behind your lessons. I think you would’ve liked them.
I have so many regrets, in retrospect. That one night when I could’ve taken you for a walk but I was too tired to, and let the maid take you. The days when I was cranky and didn’t play with you even though that was, sometimes, the only thing that could make things okay. The days when I was at the vet’s with you and instead of comforting you, I was too absorbed in a novel. The times I didn’t love you as much as you deserved to be loved, and the times when I didn’t do your simple love justice. I know it’s too late for platitudes, but I truly did think I could have loved you tomorrow. And now, suddenly, tomorrow doesn’t exist.
I need you to promise me a few things. I need to know you’ll be okay. I know you’re loving all this attention, wherever you are. You need to promise to be good. Don’t bite people with red umbrellas. Don’t fall into ponds. Don’t cry when I come home late. Don’t beg for chicken when someone’s cooking. Don’t make a fool of yourself for papaya. Don’t jump onto sofas and challenge Mom to retaliate. Don’t poke your nose into the kitchen and whine for raw vegetables. Don’t drag your leash into mud. Don’t run away when someone tries to bathe you. Don’t do that retarded beagle water dance.
I loved you, you little goof. I still love you. You took with you a small part of me. In return, you gave me limitless amounts of love and a pool of memories I can dip into in times of dire need because your unpretentious, uncomplicated love translated into fortitude and support. It translated into an aim; An aim to love as well as you have loved me.