When my friend Anne-Marie’s late mother did not want a new puppy because she was so upset about the previous one dying a few months earlier and could not face getting to love another one again and having to face the possibility of a new loss, I suggested she should perhaps take two puppies from me. This way, when one died, she would have the other.
She thought for about ten seconds, then said, “Yes, I’ll take the two!” It is good advice, and it was well taken.
We, in Ragoo Lane, as you know from previous lockdown diaries I’ve written in this series, had two dogs, Koyla being pitch black as coal and Aristot being the thinking dog. Well yesterday morning, 11 May, we had to bury both dogs.
So, you can imagine. Anne-Marie’s late mother’s nighmare.
When trying to keep humans protected against an epidemic, and in the knowledge that our two dogs live under stay-at-home orders already – either in the back yard or the front yard – all the time, though their dog-social-distancing was not perfect at the front fencing, our dogs both go and get an infectious illness? Yes.
They were both off colour for about a week, then Saturday both started those long drools that make your heart stop beating if you know dogs. Koyla, the little one then started having fits in the afternoon. And Aristot would not lie down, but just sat up, having some difficulty breathing. On Monday morning, we expected Koyla to perhaps be gone, but it was Aristot who went first. While we were digging his grave in the back garden – a big one because he was a big dog – quite literally then, at that moment, Koyla drew her last breath.
So, the two dogs who had always been on good terms on everything, absolutely everything – except who went into which of the two little kennels each evening because they both preferred the same house – at last found resolution, as they sleep forever in peace in their shared final house.
Our relationship as humans in society to dogs goes back a long time, well before we evolved into homo sapiens. So, the closeness is not surprising.
And the loss we in our household feel is like Anne-Marie’s late mother’s loss. Doubled.
The loss is strange coming during lockdown.
And it serves to remind us of the deaths, of the human toll, from Covid-19 – in Mauritius 10, and in the world now over 280,000. Yes, as humanity we have had that many human deaths. And many more people have suffered and are still suffering the severe illness that the new coronavirus causes.
And this also reminds us what the toll would have been, how many more deaths there would have been, had everyone not been so disciplined. And it also reminds us how most of us could have the privilege to stay home to try to tame the epidemic only because all the essential workers, including all hospital workers, were so generous as to keep us all going. As we come out of the epidemic, we must organize a society that recognizes essential workers first. Then we build around that concept.
And we are, till now, still not out of the woods as they say with this epidemic.
for LALIT, a personal (for this time, very personal) point of view.