This morning as I walked my now-old German Shepherd dog, a new neighbour looked at it with a grimace on her face and to such people do I address this piece:
I had been to my childhood home a few years back. A friend who came along, watched as I took pictures of my old house and then wondered why I pointed the camera at a bush near the front door.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“That’s where Flash is buried,” I said.
I never saw Flash being buried. It was a sad morning when my brother told me she was dead.
“Bury her,” I said. “I don’t want to see her dead.”
He did and I have no memories of her lifeless body.
Flash was a little kitten when I brought her home.
She waited outside for me to return from school and then with raised tail followed me around, dog-like. She climbed upto the terrace with me, purring contently as I buried myself in my books. Climbed onto my bed, under my mosquito net and slept with her head on my arm.
A habit she had which I found strange was how she would sometimes climb up my mother’s sari to sit on her shoulder. It was a habit that saved her life: We heard the meow. It sounded like it was coming from far away. She sounded weak and something made me run to the well and look in. There deep down was Flash. My mother came running with a sari. We dropped the end into the well and watched with tears as an exhausted, tired and thoroughly wet cat climbed weakly out and into my mother’s outstretched arms. Even now when little kids sing, “Ding dong bell, Pussy’s in the well…!” I smile.
Flash was Persian, a black beauty, and she knew it. She picked her mates with care, but they came and fought for her and one battle royal took place with her inside my mosquito net, in which to defend her I came out scratched and deeply bitten! For once I bravely took the tetanus shot; it was a fight for Flash and a good cause. The scars are still there.
But one day Flash died; she came home bleeding and was gone the next morning. I never saw her dead.
But that morning, I pulled out my harmonica and played a tune. Now many decades later it’s a tune I still find difficult to play without tears pouring down my adult face. My children are going to look at the photo of those bushes and ask, “What’s that dad?”
“That’s where they buried Flash,” I’ll say and turn away. It’s not often they see me cry…
I wish the lady with the sour face would let the love of either a cat or a dog, change her attitude to them, and maybe to the whole world!
Maybe it’s not just that lady, but something all of us could try; keep a pet and see a change in ourselves.