We met each other as kids and grew up together. When I first lay eyes on him, he was very tiny, but full of vigour and enthusiasm. He believed he could take on anyone, never mind their size. He knew he was capable of anything. This was the reason he would often get into scrapes with the other big fellows. My mother very aptly named him Alexander.
For his name, though, he was a fairly small dog; a Pomeranian – the kind with long scruffy hair and a small face. To me, though, he was the most handsome dog I had ever seen. We had an understanding. Whatever I felt, he would express. I’d feel happy seeing my father when he came home from work, and Alexander would wag his furry little curly tail gleefully. If I felt distrust for a stranger, he growled his low car-engine-like growl.
I was 17 when I lost my father. He was in the hospital for only a week before he died. It happened all too soon for me to absorb anything. I was in a state of shock.
Alexander had gone into hiding that day. All that day and for the next two days we both whimpered and refused food. He missed my father as much as I did. He was his father too. On the third day, I still hadn’t eaten anything and nobody could coax me into having even a morsel. Alexander came out of his hiding that day. He came and sat down beside me, and laid his head in my lap. Then he got up, licked my face and went on to eat his own food. I guess it was his way of telling me that it was time for me too to accept what had happened and move on.
Alexander became closer to me after my father passed away. We would wake up together, eat together and go out for long walks together. It was on these outings that I would have heart-to-heart talks with him. There were more than a handful of people living in the neighbourhood who thought that I had lost my mind. Not Alexander though. I know it must sound crazy, but it was as if he understood everything I was telling him. He was like the close confidante who silently listens as you pour your heart out and never breathes a word of it to anyone else.
I had a number of crying spells for days. All of a sudden my mood would switch and I’d be melancholy and depressed. Alexander would always be by my side, even though I’d sometimes yell at him out of sheer frustration. Not once did he turn his back on me.
He may have done it unintentionally, but he would perform funny little antics which would have me laughing till I thought my ribs would break. He helped me to overcome the grief and accept life for what it was.
Eventually, I got admission into a dental college and I had to move away and live in a hostel. He would patiently wait for me on weekends. It was as if he knew, my mother told me, that I was to come on that day. He would sit with his nose pinned to the door till I was home and once he saw me he would wag his tail as hard as he could.
I was in the second year when his attacks began. At first, they were only isolated occurrences happening once in three months. But soon they began recurring almost every day. He would let out a shrill yelp and then his body would go stiff, his eyes would roll and his back would arch ominously till I felt he was going to break it. Once the rigour had passed, he would urinate involuntarily and lie down for hours without doing anything. It was as if his energy was slowly slipping away. It was hard to see this once lively dog reduced to such a heartrending state.
Yet, you could say that he gave me time to prepare myself for his going. No rude shocks for me this time. I knew that his time was drawing close. One day when I came back from the hostel he came, a little unsteady on his feet, and sat beside me. I knew that this was it. I took him, his body frail and light now from the tumour in his brain, and lay him in my lap. He had one last attack, and then he was gone… forever.
I learned a lot from his life. He only knew one thing, and that was to love unconditionally. This April, it was his eighth death anniversary. I will miss him forever.