Letting go

(To my Bubby) BY H LD Mahindapala

Nothing was wrong in my perfect world
When he curled up next to me in bed
And snored softly
Hugging the silent sweetness of the night
That had switched off all care.
And when he was awake
His purr murmured his faith in me.
He trusted me to be near,
Or somewhere there,
When he opened his eyes
And so did I.
Our trust was built
On the purr or the snore
That filled the day or night.

He had his own ways, no doubt,
But he always came back to me
Whispering his comforting purr
To confirm his trust
In me.
Even when the first sedating needle
Slipped under his fur
And went into him
He expected me to be there
When he woke up next.
But then I let the second needle
Go in
Taking away
His power to purr
Or to dictate to me.


Each cry was a command.
He could in his dumb ways
Make me obey,
Jump, run, play
Or follow him to the ends
Of his earth.
The pleasure of being his servant
Was a power
That no emperor could demand.
His belief in his closed self
— He was secretive
Like an unopened book on a shelf —
Was stronger than mine
And took me by surprise
When he resisted death
As if life was good even in pain.
Sure-footed, he knew
his way
And refused to give up, I think,
Even though he could not eat or drink.

When I took him out last
Before the coming of the Vet
To let him have another look
At the world we shared together
He sat on the lawn
Like a lion sprawled
From top to toe of Africa,
Turning his head slowly, gently,
With the casual look of a king
Hardly caring for his domain.
His faint meow, announcing his presence.
Addressing me,
Echoed like a roar in the canyons of ears.
He did not know that the Vet
Had come with a lethal needle.

Death was a visitor
Who came casually and professionally
And talked caringly to him
As if the coming end
Was better than all the years
That went before.
His trust in me was purring
When the needle went in.
His head lolled to aside.
His eyes were fixed on me.
His purring died
As the needle went through me
To let him go.
His beliefs and half-eyed looks
Never left me
Because he knew no other
He could trust
To be with him
Or keep him alive.
It is not the needle going in
That stings me
But the knowledge that he won’t come back.

Choices define the difference
Between that which ought to be
And not to be.
And my love
Was to kindly let him die
Before my bleeding eyes.
If there were no choices
There would be no evil
Now my numbed head
Runs in the same place
Asking, over and over again,
Whether I should have let him go
Knowing that he was not coming back.

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About noelnadesan

Commentator and analyst of current affairs.
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