Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Betsie: faithful love

There were three schedules. The first lasted for five sun-ups, the second and third schedules for one sun-up each, subsequent upon the fifth sun-up. After that, it began at the first schedule all over again. It was all quite simple, really.

For five suns-ups, I escorted him to a tall ‘house’ of invisible walls. The only parts that weren’t see-through were the sticks that held the ‘house’ together. I left him here each morning, waiting for the sun to set before making my way back there to walk him home again. We were a part of each other, inseparable and complete.

On the sixth sun, we spent the day together. “Bonding-day,” he called it, except that it wasn’t strictly accurate because we were already bonded, like the hand to the arm. We did anything we pleased: cuddle, shop, sleep-in till the sun was at its peak in the sky, and stroll to the park for more fun and exercise. It was OUR day. I remember the first time he taught me Frisbee in the park. I was so mesmerized by the orbiting orange saucer that too late I remembered to catch it. I jumped to catch it, but it crashed landed right on my nose! At that time I was in agony, but now I laugh when I remember how quickly I forgot the pain at his soothing caresses and kisses. Indeed, my quick capitulation made him suspect me of purposely missing the Frisbee to get his attention. We stayed there till the sun made the illusion trees long, and then went home.

The third schedule is like the 2nd, only we do not sleep-in. While the sun is yet young, we make our way to a tower-like house with a tree at the top. After that, we set out for the park.

I have always lived my life thus. Today shouldn’t have been any different. It is the last sun-up of the rounds.

We strolled to town, his black head towering over my highlighted one, and our steps in perfect synchrony. He looked dashing in his suit and tie. I wore my usual colours: brown, black and white. Our destination, a grandiose shelter of stones stood out like a rose among foliage in the middle of town. Someone had erected a dazzling-yellow, barren tree with two branches (one on either side of the trunk) on its ‘head’. I waited outside this structure for him, resting under the shady gum tree, dreaming happy dreams.

Two hours passed. People started pouring out like ants escaping a flooded chamber. He was always one of the first to leave. 30 seconds passed, and I looked up, expecting to see the familiar black boots. But no. There were many perfectly polished black boots, but none of them his. Something akin to panic filled me, but then a happy thought struck me. Maybe he was stuck in the crowd, thus the delay. So I waited for a minute, 5 minutes. 15 minutes passed, and he didn’t appear. This had never happened before. Half an hour later, when I was nearly frantic with worry, I heard his genial chatter above me. However, instead of the shiny black boots I anticipated, I beheld pointy, mountain-like ones that rested on a spike at one end. I leapt to my feet in horror. What happened to him? It is only when I looked up that I saw the actual owner of the outrageous red spikes wasn’t him, but a tall woman, fashionably dressed. He was standing beside her.

I began to scold him, but realized he wasn’t paying me the least attention. Instead, it was fixed on the foreigner who walked on a perpetual hill. Trying to retrieve his attention, I grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the gate, away from the lady. He continued speaking to her over his shoulder, even though my yanking forced him to move a few steps away.

“I gotta go, but it was really nice meeting you, Helen. Maybe we could meet up for lunch tomorrow? Yes? Is twelve o’clock okay with you? Great…!” he was saying. When I finally got him to myself, he became absorbed and withdrawn, unlike his usual genial self.

“What on earth possessed you to pull me away so rudely like that? I was talking! You need to learn patience,” he snapped at me, irritated. I wanted to scream at him,

“Patience?! Do you even have a hue how long you kept me waiting?!” At the park, his Frisbee throws lacked his usual energetic enthusiasm, and not all my antics could snap him out of his unwonted lethargy.

The next morning, he dressed more carefully than usual, matching his suit and tie with his shiny black boots. He usually reserved this attire for the third schedule day— it didn’t seem like a good sign to me. If he were indolent yesterday, nothing but hyper-activeness would describe him today. Because I couldn’t keep up with his large strides, gone was the rhythmic sync that characterized us as the ultimate couple. And for the first time in his life, he forgot to kiss me goodbye before walking into the invisible walls. He dashed in and left me standing on the steps stunned.

The following months were nightmares. Each day saw him excited and listless by turns. He became moody, subjected to swings. He also took to going out early and returning home late, never bringing me along to any of these trips. In fact, he locked me in the house so that I couldn’t go after him. As if things couldn’t get worse, he forgot all about our ‘bonding-days’, waking up unnaturally early to “meet her” and coming home owlishly late, so exhausted he just dropped like a brick into bed. Once, when I petulantly reminded him of ‘bonding-day’, he responded impatiently,

“Another time, Betsie,” and tore off again. I never saw him till dark, and it made me miserable. He is my sunshine. Without him, it is as if daylight had never been.

One night, he emerged from the transparent walls early, coming home to shower, change and groom himself before tearing off again. I stayed up, waiting for him. Close to the divide between night and day, I heard the gate creak open. He entered the house smiling, a soft light in his eyes.

“I’m getting married, Betsie,” he announced. I gaped in incredulity. Apprehension swiftly entailed shock.

“You can’t do that to me! What about me? Where am I to go?” I pleaded. In his sanguine frame of mind, he didn’t listen to any of my cries. Enraged at his stupidity and faithlessness, I demanded,

“What about our six years of love? Are you throwing that away for a fling with an outsider?” He roared at me and stormed out of the house in a rage. That act told me everything. In the years we’ve been together, he never rebuffed me like that.

What arts the woman worked on him I do not know, but whatever it was, it separated our bond of love ruthlessly. It was as if the foreigner ripped into his heart, tore any vestige of me out of it, and pasted herself all over its walls. Over the next couple of months, I became a burden so heavy that he tossed me away without the least compunction.

It was not long after, that I watched him enter a resplendent white car, seat himself beside the smiling foreigner, and signal the chauffeur to drive off. He leaves me, and everything we ever shared. He drives away without turning back to wave me, or the home we shared, goodbye. He abandoned me to the mercy of relatives and neighbours.


It is ten years now. I am no longer the young Alsatian I was. My once glorious highlighted hair has fallen out in some places, and my eyesight is failing. Though my physic has changed, yet my heart remains constant. I am waiting. Waiting for the gate to creak open… waiting for a figure to pause under the white arc… waiting for him to stretch his arms to me... He will come, and when he does, I shall leap to welcome him home to me with all my faithful doggy heart.

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