"Of course, time moves on ..................but the vacancy left by previous occupants never fills. We keep our loved ones alive through our memories, our conversations and our stories but we don’t necessarily choose to reveal how much they really meant. We don’t have to. Anybody who has ever lost a pet knows".
A Date with Daisy
As I read these lines in Tom Mitchell's book, The Penguin Lessons, my heart stopped. Tears welled up in my eyes and a lump grew in my throat, memories of our years spent with Daisy rushed to my mind. Daisy was an Alsatian, the best and most loving of all pets, who as all pet lovers know, become family. She came to us, when both our daughters were in primary school.
She was our only pet and it's twenty years since she left us, but even today, I can visualise her, curled up on her own special bed, plonked right in front of the air conditioner, opening her eyes at intervals, making sure we were all with her.
"Daisy...I miss you so" I spoke aloud involuntarily. "You know, I think of you often, of all the days we spent together, so full of love and laughter.."
Stretching her chin on her paws and turning away with a smirk, her look seemed to reply, "Of course, I know it! But you struggled with me as a pup, didn't you?? You would tie me to a long leash near your kitchen to keep an eye on me!"
"You haven't forgotten!" I smiled. "Yes, I was so scared those days. You would get entangled and I had to come close to rescue you. And you'd wriggle and lick... but I cared for you all through ok?"
Daisy yawned calmly. "Have I complained! You fed me well! But I know you struggled with your grandkids too on your first visit! And look how much they love you now! It was the same with me".
"Mammas and grandmas need to upgrade too, don't they?" Then turning to her, I said, "Let me tell you something about what happened at home, just before your arrival".
"I know I know," she hurriedly repeated. "My little Megha fell deep asleep one afternoon and wouldn't open the door for her aunt who got worried. She called you and Daddy who broke open the bolt only to find my little angel fast asleep with a book."
"How do you know that story?", I asked, aghast.
"How wouldn't I! That's all you spoke about to everyone; that you had got me to be her playmate. But you know, I was her guardian angel and she was mine. My playmate was the older one, my dear friend Varsha. You wicked parents, you wanted to switch me with my brother Bruno! If Varsha hadn't protested, who knows where I might have been......"
"Come on, come on," I said, explaining that the mistake was that of the handlers, as the pups were just a few weeks old. We had asked for Bruno, and he had given Daisy to us by mistake, and he tried to set things right. "Thank God," I continued, "Bruno too found a loving home!"
" Mummy, who named me Daisy? I loved that name." She said.
"I'm sure Varsha and Megha chose your name. You know Daisy, we were so impressed by your intelligence. You were a thinking dog and knew instinctively what was happening! It was Dagwood Bumstead and Blondie's pet or maybe that of the 'Five Findouters', they were the inspiration behind your name!"
Now, I had to ask her this. "Do you remember, soon after your arrival, thieves broke open the restroom window and camped off with the copper water pipes and you didn't even bark! What if they had entered and robbed us all..?"
"Yes yes, even I found it strange for people to wave out through the window at night, I remember. Were they thieves? How was I to know? But you taught me to be friends with everyone!" she chuckled.
"Ah yes, you just loved your Daddy blindly. And you were so obedient when he was around! you never cared for any of us," I said, complaining. "OMG, he even promised to bequeath all his property to you! But you thought of me only when you were hungry. Once I forgot to give you your morning milk. You looked at me with painful eyes and I remembered immediately".
"Most days you made a tasty meal with my favourite potatoes, but on other days..Aw, you were strict. Daddy was fun. And indulgent. He invented new games, full of tricks and surprises.....Mamma, I had the best family any dog could wish for," she said, placatingly.
I was touched. "Daisy, you were so demonstrative in your love. Daddy used to pretend to hit Megha and you would jump up, hold his hand and stop him. And yet you chewed her one and only Barbie doll!"
" You used to leave me alone and go away. I missed you all terribly. What else could I do. I was filled with anger and jealousy. I would pick up the doll and deliberately jump on to your bed where I was not allowed. Some days I would l chew her books, or shoes or what ever I could find!"
"We went on vacations half heartedly..." I continued.
"And I used to wait for you at the gate. Thank god I had three people for company. Vijaya didi fed me very lovingly. The other stayed longer but uttered only two words, Ka-Ho! The curly haired guy came once in a while to groom me. But I was miserable during the evenings."
" I can imagine, your playtime at the park! When you turned into an uncontrollable freak......" I teased.
"How I enjoyed it. Even on the field my Megha was gentle. But my Varsha...she was the real player, how I missed her when she went off to college. The house used to be so quiet without the MTV channel blaring. And my walks were never the same...although you or daddy accompanied me often."
"You know both of them are so far away.." I said.
"O mummy, only you would say that. Let me tell you, every week Megha goes to the park to meet that Mutty...."
"He's Buddy, Daisy" I corrected her.
"He's a mutt, a fool, that mountain dog. Often Megha calls him Daisy and he wags his tail. It's me she sees and me she plays with. Even her husband, Arvind has a soft corner for me, I know it! And she's still nearest to my heart! She reminds you every year, of my anniversaries, doesn't she?"
"Daisy I was so grief stricken ..I haven't yet overcome your passing away," I confided.
"Yes, I know, you and Varsha...Varsha has passed on her love for me to her family, her lovely children and husband, Nanu."
"How can you tell?"
"Have a look at the 40 birthday album he created for her. Go to the family page, look at the Ramani family photo!" She declared knowingly.
"Daisy, I wish I could have cared more for you. You know the vets in Jamshedpur were so loving. But here in Chennai, once they made a wrong diagnosis, yet again they prescribed the wrong medicine.
Did you suffer much?" I asked fearfully.
"No, not really" she replied, to my great relief. " I enjoyed my train journey with you all, from Jamshedpur to Nagpur and Nagpur to Chennai. I travelled first class!" She said proudly.
"Always first class for you my dear. Except those 15 days in September.. you were so sick..."
"I lived eleven happy years, don't you forget," she said sharply. "My brother Bruno, he died at eight and he got bow feet too," she added and continued, " That September, I remember Varsha spoke to me on the phone. She asked me to hang on. I regret that was not in my hands."
Then she chided me. "You still don't play with any dog. Why avoid them, mamma? Varsha still mourns me. Share your love like Megha and Daddy. O, my daddy, he sees me in every dog he passes by. He's full of love. He even loves the tiny noisy neighbour's dogs whom you can't stand."
And then turning to me, she asked, "Tell me, why have you started boasting about yourself in your blogs?"
"Who? Me and boasting?"I looked, bewildered.
"Yes, you boast you have learnt a lot from your books. You buried me in Chennai with my favourite toy and sheet. And I know you haven't got a closure. Mummy, death is an eventuality. It is a reality. We were destined to spend so many happy years together. Let's celebrate that unforgettable time. I see you haven't learnt anything from your books. Go out there ..there's so much love to be shared!"
And with these words, Daisy left me again, but this time a little wiser and happier!