“What’s the fuss about? It was just a dog, after all.” Said he.
I owe you no explanations for my grief, sir. I chose to ignore the many assumptions that played into that statement of yours. I walked away. But in my mind, reasons cropped up and I thought to myself that if I had to think and write about the reasons it would take a while, if I would have to explain things to you it would take a longer time. I would like to do the former if not for anything else but to gain some perspective to the discordancy of loss, the mayhem of death and the reason to live.
Zoe came into my life nearly twelve years ago. Imagine a child who comes into a relationship of two lovers at its age of two. The joy that a new life brings which promises a strengthening bond between two lovers who society neglects to believe as worth tolerance, much less acceptance. Just today as I was sitting with my aunts and my father, my father mentioned that a man they knew was ‘like anand and I’ – we couldn’t understand what he said at first and then we realised he was talking about sexuality. He said he couldn’t attribute a term to what Anand and I share. And he wouldn’t even if he could. Let me tell you, sir, who I loved was not an issue for Zoe. For that alone, I think she is something more than just a dog, after all. I could end right here and put an end to this reasoning. But it will make me feel better and so I shall move on.
We say there are some loves that are unconditional. But I believe that no love is without condition. Love in itself, is conditional. By saying that true love should be unconditional is putting in a condition. Conceit though it may be, you, my reader, need to think about this closely. But that is not the point I make. The point is that Zoe loved me for the food I gave her, for the games I played with her and for the love I gave back in return for hers. Those conditions are vastly lesser in magnitude than expecting one to marry for a reason, love for a reason, hope for a reason or live for a reason. She wanted me to love her back, feed her and play with her. All she gave back was love.
She loved me. Of that there is no doubt and not a single shred of uncertainty. From the moment I got her she was connected to me. I raised her from the tender age of 40 days. She grew up bossy, loving her toys, loving me. She was a Pisces, born on 1st March, 2002. She dominated other dogs. Did not much like other men. Got along famously with all my female friends and when she did become friends with some of my male friends, she loved them whenever they would appear. Some of them loved her back with a vengeance, too. There are a few of them who were terribly afraid of all dogs, but once they got to know her, she was the only dog they adjusted to and grew fond of. I would go even so far as to say, love her back.
She would use the loo of our house to poo and pee and she would only go down to play up a storm. Gradually when she realised it was alright to pee on the bushes, she began doing so. She hated cats and would chase them whenever possible. She would boss over other dogs – especially if they were walking with their owners on a leash. She was tawny like a tigress, and had the eyes of a cow. Once when I was standing with her at the entrance to a shop, a gentleman came up and said she was one of the most beautiful boxers he had ever seen. I was a proud father then. I also began tying a black string around her neck, to protect her from any form of ‘nazar’.
Zoe was my constant companion. I am a night bird. When everyone would fall asleep, she was the one awake with me. She waited for me to get to bed and sometimes when it would get too late, she would come and sit before me with an expression that said, ‘alright, dad, enough now, get to bed.’ And I would do so. She would wait for me to get up on the bed and only then jump up with me. As my allergies grew worse, and I got a terrible attack one morning, I remember her getting down from the bed and after that never asking to be put back up on my bed. I couldn’t believe it had actually happened. Later on as I got a bit better, she would climb up. I don’t know how she knew, but she did.
She couldn’t stomach pain. When she had her first menstrual cycle, she hung all limp and was in agony. We thought something had gone wrong with her, but we found that she was going through her first chums. She was spayed at four and that was the only time she went under the knife. When she turned 9 she was diagnosed with bladder stones. And I didn’t want her to have surgery because she didn’t take well to pain and I didn’t want her to go through anaesthesia at that stage of her life. We controlled the stones through diet and medication and she went back to being her playful self.
When we shifted, from our old home into a new one, when the old one went in for redevelopment, she took her time to adjust. By then, she was 10 years old. When we would walk to the old home she would recognise the road, she would recognise the compound and she would stand and gaze back at our old home which was soon to be demolished. That was heart breaking to watch because she knew that that was the place she had her best memories. She remembered and she loved.
By October 2013, she was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. It progressed fast and the condition of the bladder was exacerbated with the harnesses used. I won’t go into the details of the suffering, because there is no use to that – she passed away at 3:25pm, on 28th October, 2013, amidst her family.
When she died, a part of me died with her. She was my friend. She was my companion in the day and at night. She was my daughter. She was the one who did nothing but wait for me until I returned back to her from wherever I had gone. She was the one who followed me at home, until her legs did not allow her to. She loved me as much as she could, as best as she was able, as long as she lived. If there is something amidst all the pain that I feel now I can very happily say is that I love her as much as I can, as best as I can and as long as I will live.
The fuss is about the love that died with her, and the love that lives on with me. The fuss is about the friend I lost. The fuss is that there won’t be another Zoe. The fuss is that she, sir, was more human than you could ever be.
And if I could borrow a quote from a heightened mind, I fuss because death ends a life, but not a relationship.