Song of the post: Sleeping Beauty by End of the World (Sekai No Owari) and Epik High
There are certain expectations set for 2021 by all of us. We’re hoping for it to be better than this year, for obvious reasons, but it also seems like there is an insane amount of pressure for 2021 to just be. I don’t know why but I’ve been feeling anxious for it and it’s irrational, I know. But every time I think about New Year’s and seeing people wishing for a better year and being happier, I have this urge to just hide. Just hide and hibernate like a bear and not emerge until the world has calmed down and stopped piling on horrible expectations on a certain idea of time.
That’s just me. I do wish and hope for a better year but simply thinking about it makes me feel deja vu all over again. We had these kinds of expectations for 2020 and look where that got us. Can we just, please, treat it like another day? Maybe then, the sins of the human race might be ignored for a little while longer?
I am not going to talk about this year in general. I’ll dive right in. My year had dogs. A lot of the gaps that I had in my heart—gaps left by friends that I couldn’t see, gaps left by the lack of skin-ship, gaps left by the lack of normal experiences of hanging out at a cafe and sipping cold coffee—was filled with these furry friends that I met on the road.
The earliest were Maya and Poser and Totoro. Since I lived on campus till mid-March, I had spent a good two-and-a-half months of this year with these loves and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss them. I miss the spunky attitude of Totoro when there’s someone new but I loved how pliant she went when I fed her and pet her. She was one of my favourites on campus (shh, don’t tell the others!) and on days she refused to eat, I put her face in my lap spoke to her for a little and then she would eat a little. It all feels so magical and like it happened to a version of me that’s barely recognizable, now that I think about it.
Then there was Poser. His pretty eyes always betray his actions. He has big, pretty brown eyes and some nights, I swore I could sense a slight glint of exasperation in his eyes when I tried to feed him. He refused to eat a lot of times so I tired doing the airplane. I would tear off the piece of chapati and mimic (horribly) airplane sounds and moving the food all over my head and his head and then put it near his mouth, where he would reluctantly eat. I bet you he was thinking, “If I eat enough, maybe she’ll leave me alone,” and it worked. I was naive enough to believe that he has eaten enough and then I would move on. But towards the end of the year, when I went to speak with him without food, he always got petted a few times before haughtily walking away. I can imagine him going, “I’ve had my daily dose of affection from her, time to move on,” That was enough for me.
And then Maya. I’ve written a lot about Maya already (a full blog post!) but I feel like I’ll always want to write more. But at this point, the thing I miss about him the most is his presence. On most days, that would just be enough for me and looking back, I can’t remember for how long I’ve relied on him the way I did. If I hadn’t seen him that day, I would feel unsettled till I saw him. I didn’t even need to pet him or scratch his bum. I just needed to see him from a distance and I would feel all right. Even if it was for just that moment. And I guess it left a huge gaping hole in my heart when I moved so hurriedly. I did get to say goodbye to them. I took a break from packing the night before I was to leave (sometime past midnight) and I spent a good half an hour feeding Maya and Poser from the biscuits that were left over in my room and telling them to be good and that I will miss them terribly. But mostly, I just fed them in silence while they ate, while I scratched their ears and bums, while I tried to memorize how their short, spiky fur felt under my fingers, while I tried to blink tears out of my eyes.
After March, there were months where we were all at home so the hopes of meeting a cute doggo out on the street were zero. Sometime in August or September, when the rains had calmed down, Amma made me go walking. At first, I didn’t like it. It was a bit annoying, being told to go for a walk so that I can “stay in shape” (ugh) but I went anyway because I felt really nice. The air (through my mask) felt nice in the mornings and that’s when I met Rambo in the road behind my house. He was a bratty little thing and I had only met him for the second time when he refused to leave me. I was so exhausted trying to run away from him. He lived partially in one of the houses where I’d first met him and he was all in for following me! For that little while, it felt like all was right in the world. Before I had go back to my bleak reality, of course.
The first picture was the first day I met him. He sat in the middle of the road, mindless of the traffic so I lured him to a side of the road and petted him a little. The second picture was taken probably a couple of weeks later by Akka. Rambo was teething, I guess, and my leggings and leg and my sandals probably were the perfect texture to ease his pain. But I found him a nice little stick so I distracted him and ran away.
After a few more weeks, I found a different route to walk, a little away from home but in the same area. There, sitting on a tree stump, were 4 plump, cute puppies. When I approached them, they growled at me. Their mother was also fiercely protective so I didn’t bother them that much. But whenever I go walking, they’re always there. Someone made a little resting spot for them behind a wall and they are usually around, playing. They’ve grown big now, but it feels nice to have seen them in the process.
More recently, when I went walking, Amma gave me a couple of left over chapatis from the previous night to feed some of the dogs on my way. There were plenty. I chose a place at random and tore up the chapatis into smaller bits and left it for a couple of dogs here and there. They didn’t eat while I was there so I walked on. After a while I noticed I was being followed. It was one of the dogs I had fed and refused to eat the chapatis. I had to cross the road at one point so I crossed it with him (yes, I had known by then) and he walked with me. For all the 40 minutes of my walk, he was behind me. Except, at one point, he refused to go further. I think it was an unfriendly territory, by the looks that the other dogs gave him so I changed my route and we walked in the same route for a while before heading back. When we reached the spot where I had met him, he didn’t care. He just followed me. I stopped by a store to buy biscuits for him and I broke some and fed some and then got up to leave while he was eating. And he still followed me! He followed me all the way home and then I went inside my building. I didn’t want to leave him but he wasn’t made to be indoors (even if I was allowed to take him in) but when I came out to feed him, he was gone. I never saw him again in that route.
At this point, I’m pretty used to feeding and even petting stray dogs. The dogs in my road are still very wary and I’ve almost never seen them. But we do keep them food a few nights a week so I don’t feel too bad about not interacting with them after nearly 8 years of living in this area.
I like that I had so many little fur balls in my life, for however little time. I’m grateful for all of them and will carry this feeling of safety and bliss and pure love around in my heart for as long as I can.
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