By Divya Gursahani
”Didi, listen to me! Why are you not listening to me?” Arjun, my truant younger brother, was tugging at my blue t-shirt. But I was lost in a world of my own. Had I seen a reflection of myself at the time, I would have been shocked. My hair was uncombed, I hadn’t changed out of that t-shirt for days hence I remembered the colour, my breath smelled and I could have easily been mistaken for one of the homeless people milling about aimlessly outside the veterinary clinic.
“What is it Arjun?”
“Do you know why dogs die so soon?”
“You know Maa told me the reason. People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life- like loving everybody and being nice all the time, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that so they don’t have to stay that long.”
I was taken aback when I heard those words come out of his mouth. He was tearing up but was trying to hold it together due to the inherent male ego which mocks their emotional moments.
Teddy had always been my best friend. And here I was, in a veterinary clinic, begging God not to snatch him away. The lump in my throat hadn’t gone for days. My entire family, cousins, grandparents, parents, Arjun and all our friends were seated in the waiting room of Dr. Rajadhyaksha’s clinic. Every person that had ever interacted with Teddy was there. Every person he had won over with just a look from his molten peat-bog like eyes and warm love.
It all started a few months ago. Teddy is twelve years old. We all knew that soon a day would come when he would pass away but nobody anticipated it so quickly. Three months ago he stopped eating food and lay groaning in pain. When I took him to the clinic I was told that his stomach had overturned and twisted into a knot, very much like the fabled Gordian knot but one that even the great Alexander could not unravel. I had been warned, Teddy only had a few days to live. But he fought on and battled for three months. He struggled for survival; I could see it in his eyes. Two days ago there had been an emergency. The veterinarians told me I had to make a choice – either have him live on life support for a few more months till he died a natural death or put an end to his pain that day.
I felt as if twelve years of my life were simply draining away. My Teddy’s mantra has always been: if you can’t solve a problem, pee on it and walk away. Every time he did something naughty and knew that Maa was on the hunt for him he would hide his head under the sofa since the whole of him wouldn’t fit. He’d conveniently assume that since he could not see us then, we would not be able to see him either. I wish I had a sofa to hide under so that this problem I was facing would melt away.
Teddy is my dog. Every person in that waiting room anxiously awaited my decision, but how could I voluntarily let my life slip away? I knew he would prefer to be put down and not suffer but why did I feel like I was giving up so easily? Shouldn’t I give one more chance to the very dog who leaped on me with joy and gave me a new chance everyday even when I left him alone?
Teddy has the most sparkly, enchanting eyes I have ever seen. He said a million things to me through his eyes. The very eyes which now looked comatose and had lost their twinkle. I clearly remember, as a puppy he had managed to chew his leash off and run away. He dodged cars on the main road, weaving in and out of buildings but managed to find his way back. That night his eyes seemed to be saying that even though he had fun, he was always going to come back at the end of the day and curl up at my feet.
Sometimes I wonder what he would say if he could speak to me. As I sit in the waiting room, I decide to move to the emergency room where Teddy is hooked onto the IV. The atmosphere of the room is calm and I go sit next to him. I can feel his moist breath on me as he struggles to greet me with all those wires connected to him. He hardly manages to move an inch. I could keep him alive on life support for a few months at most, but where would that lead? It would bring great sorrow to those who love him and immense agony to him. He would merely live a shell-like existence. I have made my decision. It is time to tell the doctor. It’s time to let go forever. I can feel the seconds tick in the air. As I hug Teddy tightly, tears drip from my eyes into his soft fur. Slowly, a tear rolls down his furry cheek and falls into the soft cushion of the bed. I think he knows this is a goodbye. He knows it’s time to let go.