The clock on the television that adorned the latter showed the time as 12 midnight. The television show that I was watching was coming close to the end. It was a detective drama produced in England, the previous show was a police drama also produced in England. I am addicted to British cop shows and I do relish Australian and American dramas in a big way.
Unlike mega drama series that were produced in Tamil Nadu, India, where expensive silk saris would be worn when someone goes to bed and one would get up in the morning with makeup, Australian and American dramas show some theatrical flavour.
While my wife was sleeping in the upper story of my home, my son was watching a TV drama on some website on his computer. I had switched off the lights in the TV location where I was, to reduce the greenhouse effect. This was my small contribution to Mother Nature, akin to that of a minor role played by a squirrel in building Adam’s bridge to Lanka in the Indian epic Mahabharatha.
As the TV drama had come to an end and I thought of bed, I saw our four legged family member in deep slumber on the mattress close to the telephone. I went towards Sandy, the dog, quietly and gently stroked its head, but she did not raise her head nor open her eyes. Instead, she continued to sleep peacefully without any response.
A few months ago Sandy underwent an operation where a wart near her neck was removed. The hair growth over the area was patchy and the scar was still visible. Sandy was normally a very clean dog and kept her body squeaky clean. She would lick away any dirt from her body. Now I could see flaky skin spread all over the body.
Age had taken its toll on Sandy. Her hearing had shown signs of deterioration and the skin too was dull and grey: signs of poor health. Earlier, she would rise to the softest noise in the kitchen, like the clutter of plates, but now even a loud noise did not rattle her. I was also starting to see a blue film like layer appear on her eyes: a sign of cataracts in her eyes.
The beauty for which a Labrador is renowned, did not fade from Sandy’s face, though the date she would meet her creator was nearing closer.
An accusation that had been levelled against me by my family was that I didn’t fondle Sandy with affection; there was an element of truth in that accusation.
Getting emotional and shedding tears were not in my demeanour even in a small way and instead of getting dejected over mournful events, I would find the reasons why those events were happening and wish to see an end to those events. I think that if an incident cannot be avoided, it is to be accepted, and there is no gain in repenting about it.
I can recall I have shed tears for a dog and two human beings. Sandy who had spent fourteen years with us had gone through life’s three phases, namely, puppy, middle aged, and the evening of its life. The time it spends walking had come down, and that in sleeping had gone up, and, as a result, her weight had increased and she developed hip pain and lost muscle strength.
Sandy had got used to staying inside the house from dusk till dawn and this resulted in her going to the toilet in the house many times. When I left home to go for work, I would see small pools of urine near the exit from the house, and it was unpleasant to clean. On the other hand, if she was allowed outside, her barking would disturb the neighbours and us. The aging Sandy had become an inconvenience to her and us!
One Sunday morning I was playing badminton when I got a call that Sandy was bleeding from her nose and was asked to come home immediately. Sandy was bleeding form a nasal orifice and I concluded with my experience that a tumour was growing in that area. My concerned family requested that an X-ray be taken. The growth appeared on the upper part of the nose pressing down on the bone, and although Sandy’s cancer had spread to the bones and started bleeding, her appetite for food had not diminished.
The task of looking after the well-being of Sandy was off my hands following my wife’s assurance that she would. Sandy was given many grand parties and was given ice-cream with a variety of medicines; the rear door was kept open around the clock so that she could go out any time she wanted.
Sadly, the tumour in Sandy’s nose was growing, making it difficult for her to breathe at night as her nostril was becoming blocked. One day Sandy did not want to eat and instead slept the whole day. I thought Sandy’s days were numbered and fixed a d-day for it. A saffron Bindii was affixed on her forehead and my wife and son brought her to the clinic where I worked. The decision to euthanize Sandy was difficult, while toying with the idea of giving her the injection, she rapidly ate the ice-cream that was brought in and because of her craving for food, the date fixed for sending her to the other world was postponed.
During the weeks that followed, Sandy was tormented by Melbourne’s hot summer days. On one such day, Sandy refused to eat, and on that day, months of intensive care came to an end. Sandy was cremated and the ashes returned in a small wooden box of great aesthetic appeal. Sandy that weighed thirty kilograms was reduced to mere ashes weighing less than half a kilogram. My wife kept the wooden box on the mattress where Sandy usually slept, whereas for me, the box represented Sandy and it stirred great memories.