Till we meet again
by Rengarajan T S
“Raghu… this is impossible. Bruno is afflicted with arthritis but he has a lot of life left in him! Forget it!” said the veterinarian.
Raghu looked deep into the eyes of Dr. Kulkarni and repeated, “Please, do it. Do it for my sake”.
Waiting for Kulkarni to finish attending to one more dog, Raghu started ruminating. Ten years ago, on a chilly December morning, he was on his daily walk. Near Bandstand, he found a tiny puppy, whining away.
Unable to control himself, Raghu, bent down, and asked, :”How are you? Why are you crying? Did you lose your mother?”.
The puppy wagged its tail and got up, while continuing to whine. Raghu thought he might be hungry but no shops were open yet. Raghu sighed and walked away.
A few steps down, he noticed, the puppy was following him. Twice, he tried to shoo him away but the puppy was unrelenting.
Raghu stopped, bent down, looked at the puppy said, “You can’t come with me. My wife doesn’t like dogs”.
The puppy seemed to be least bothered about what Raghu said. It started licking his feet. Raghu couldn’t resist. He picked up the puppy and went home.
Sheela opened the door and was shocked and surprised to see Raghu standing there, holding a puppy in his arms.
“What is this Raghu? You know I don’t like dogs!” she exclaimed.
“Okay.. but let’s give him some milk, ma, he’s hungry,” replied Raghu.
Reluctantly, Sheela brought some milk in a coconut shell. The little one drank the milk in a few gulps and looked at his benefactor lovingly. Sheela went into the kitchen murmuring that Raghu should take him away immediately, as it might be difficult later.
“Let me have a bath first,” replied Raghu, leaving the puppy in the balcony.
Sheela was busy preparing breakfast. Suddenly, she had a creepy feeling near her feet. It was the puppy licking her feet. She was terribly angry and shouted at the puppy and Raghu. The puppy ran and hid behind the kitchen door.
A few minutes later, Sheela was carrying a plate of toast to the dining table. She turned back and saw the puppy still standing behind the door.
He looked small and vulnerable. And soon, he would be back on the road…
Sheela returned to the kitchen and tried to focus on making the filter coffee. Really, one can’t take in every stray animal… there are just too many in this world!
After having his breakfast, Raghu shouted, “Sheela, I am going out to leave this guy somewhere and will be back soon”.
Sheela saw Raghu standing at the door with the puppy. The little guy was snuggled up in the old man’s arms. Helpless little baby.
After a pause, Sheela said, “Raghu, let Bruno stay.”
Raghu looked askance at Sheela, “Are you sure?”
Sheela nodded, lump in throat. Gosh, she must be getting sentimental with age.
“Okay little man! I see you already have a name,” said Raghu, pleased as punch.
Bruno became a part and parcel of the family. The couple’s children lived in the US and were instantly won over by the four-legged furball, when they came visiting.
Bruno occupied everyone’s mind and heart so much that Raghu added his name to the wooden nameplate on the door.
Happy tidings come in a bundle and so do unhappy tidings. Bruno developed arthritis. He couldn’t walk much. He was being treated by Dr. Kulkarni.
Soon after, Sheela complained of a lump in her breast. It was diagnosed as cancer.
All of a sudden, life changed. Raghu didn’t know how to handle the situation. It was difficult to hold back the tears while giving Sheela the false assurance ‘everything will be all right soon’.
Bruno was his constant companion when he stood in the balcony, weeping. The dog seemed to understand his parent’s agony. Bruno tried to comfort Sheela, as well, by nuzzling up against her whenever he got the chance.
Finally, the end came.
Sheela passed away.
The children came and before leaving, requested him to join them for some time, to get over the loneliness. Raghu had no other option. He had never ever thought of life without Sheela. Raghu now had to find a home for the sick Bruno.
Dr. Kulkarni suggested that Raghu leave Bruno in a farm in Panvel belonging to his friend. The next few days, Raghu would often get up at night and look at Bruno, writhing in pain.
He would then softly move his hands over Bruno’s legs, comforting him. Until the poor animal finally fell asleep.
Raghu had finally decided.
“Kulkarni, let’s put Bruno to sleep”, he said. “I can’t live with the thought that he is without me and suffering from pain”.
Dr. Kulkarni was initially reluctant but when Raghu refused to reconsider, he had no choice. He prepared the injection to put Bruno to sleep permanently.
One last time, he asked, “Raghu, are you sure? You want to do this”.
“Yes,” said Raghu, even as he broke down and sobbed like a baby. Bruno was licking his feet, unable to see his master crying.
Raghu held Bruno in his arms one last time and whispered into his ears, “Very soon you will be with Sheela Aai. She will take care of you.”
Bruno wagged his tail and gave a gentle woof, as he closed his eyes. Forever.
This story was written as part of the Writer’s Gym program and edited by Rashmi Bansal.