Calvin’s Web

18199087_10212986011861974_849897393581806179_n“Dear CALVIN we miss u”

I woke up to those words today. Father’s status message on Whatsapp. Five words. They shook my heart and triggered a tsunami. A tsunami of memories.

Those memories violated me, broke my bubble of sunny thoughts, filled me with doubts, and made me bawl in the restroom. In spite of the assault, I didn’t wish I could flush those memories down. I didn’t want to pretend that I am okay, when I can’t banish a bunch of images which would chase me until my bones are reduced to ashes. I choose not to cast off those images. They are mine. They are me.

We place Calvin on the cold table. He pants, still gathers some strength to look around. He knows that place and we know he loathes it. I don’t see his tail. I don’t know if he wagged it then. I see his eyes. Grey and glassy despite the cataract. I try to travel deeper into the eyes, I see fear. I think I see fear. My vision becomes blurred because tears are filling those two inadequate windows called eyes. I am mad at the tears because they are thwarting me from looking at our Calvin for one last time. I allow them to mar my vision all the same.

10993423_10206083724069093_7601953312908706755_nThe doctor says he will not be in pain anymore. I thank her and she says I have a couple of more minutes with Calvin. I reach his ear and whisper, “I am sorry.” I am sorry for all the times I ignored you. I am sorry for hurting you. I am sorry for yelling at you. I am sorry for not talking to you a lot. I am sorry for being mad at you when I couldn’t manage my anger. I am sorry. I am sorry. IamsorryIamsorryIamsorryIamsorry.

I… am… sorry…

I drop a kiss on his face; I leave the room without turning back.

Calvin is alive. He breathes. He smells death. I cross a door.

I cross the door again. Calvin is not alive. I smell death.

A door. A door that conjured up a gulf that can never be crossed.

Father’s friend carries Calvin as we collect all the shards of our broken hearts to see our dear boy for one last time before he is going to be offered to the eternal darkness. His eyes are open. Grey. Glassy. Gone.

Fred’s aroma has not deserted him; it wafts over me now, as though I had just removed the stopper from a vial of cheap perfume. His aroma has not deserted the last collar he wore, either…

Here I am, seven years after his death, still sharing a fever bed with him and, what is infinitely more burdensome, still feeling the compulsion to write about him.

— ‘EB White on Dogs’

10524374_10204316727975295_7597362351294833951_nCall me schizophrenic, I wouldn’t complain. Two years after we let Calvin go, I still hear the pitter-patter of his paws which walked miles and miles, and I hear his sigh as he turns to his side to make himself more comfortable while he is asleep. I use the bowls in which he drank litres and litres of buttermilk. I sniff my old clothes, close my eyes, and I see him looking back at me with benevolence.

My nephew Shravan was right on so many levels when he said Calvin is alive. The years we shared with the great black dog is woven so deeply into the tapestry of our lives that it is beyond our brains to believe that he is gone.

We once had a balcony. A spacious balcony from where Mother and Calvin saw us leaving for work. Mother would wave with enthusiasm, with zennish Calvin at her heel. Before I take the last turn and leave the road, I would look at them one more time.

Calvin would look down, his leaf-like ears partially curtaining his eyes. Jet-black face. Velvety fur. Pink tongue bordered by shiny saliva. His starry eyes trained on me.

Calvin. Our golden Calvin.

We are forever haunted by him; we don’t want our lives any other way.

We are forever mired faring in his web. After all, he is our Charlotte.

There is far more to us than what we live.

— ‘Solo’ by Rana Dasgupta

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11 thoughts on “Calvin’s Web

  1. Having a dog — a family member — pass away is the hardest thing in the whole world. I think Calvin is with you wherever you go — in your hearts and minds. I often remember my dog Sophie who died in 1994 — it turned my world upside down and I miss her even today. Luckily I have Stella now — who fills my heart. And you have Boo. But it’s so nice you pay tribute to Calvin.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post echoes my heart when I think about my cat Gus. Being with him when he crossed over to the next world at the vet’s office was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I still cry when I think about it. But you are right not to want to be rid of the memories, even the hard ones, because they are part of you and always will be. Beautiful post! Calvin was a good dog, a ver much loved dog, it is plain to see. Hugs to you, Deepika.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so beautiful! Our animals stay with us, don’t they? My husband had a white boxer when we first met and married and soon after she died of cancer. We had her little white hairs in our clothes for blankets for years afterwards. And I cat we got soon after we married who lived with us for 16 years before his heart failed, I still see him out of the corner of my eye sometimes. Big hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh yes, so many of us can relate to this Deepika. I still miss our lovely dog who died five years ago this month. Just the other day, I had a sudden ache for her. For various reasons we have not got another dog, but we will one day again. The pain of losing them is so great, but the love we have for them and they for us is so very special. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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