Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Death on the Anniversary of My Birth

"Twilight and the evening bell
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I Embark."

Alfred Tennyson, Crossing the Bar

Good bye.

11th of July, 2008

I came home from class to one of my favourite chapters of the day when the puppies would gambol towards me, with all the sincerity of seeing me again though they have only seen me that very morning. Puppies just love without restrain like that. It's refreshing. It's one of those things which make life worth the trouble to have.

The pups aren't mine though. They were brought to Acharya Compound by Li Lian and Tze Yong to replace Charlie, after she was stolen - but in the strictest sense of ownership, they belong to everyone who lives here in this neighborhood. Having dogs keep away the snakes and here in India, we have a lot of those.

Our resident snake-catcher who went missing earlier this year. Picture from this old post.

That day, I realised that the black puppy was acting queer. She ran towards me, but stopped short of the last few steps. She regarded me warily from that distance, turned her head to one side and stared suspiciously at me out of one eye - something animals do when one of their eyes is damaged or blind. She wanted to come to me but at the same time, she was very, very afraid of something.

I reached out for her to get a closer look at her other eye but as soon as I raised a hand, she shrank away fearfully as if she's afraid that I would strike her. It distressed me greatly to see the poor little thing behaving like this. Someone must have been hitting her really hard to make her this nervous, and maybe, in the process, injured her other eye. It took me a minute to coax it to come back to me and let me get a good look at her, but I found nothing amiss. The other eye looked perfectly fine. Something else must have affected her sight. Brain damage? More than likely, given the fact that she had recently received a brutal beating.

I was worried that she would not recover but a fundamental damage was already done; she was no longer the sweet, trusting creature she used to be.

Morning, 13th July, 2008

I was woken up in the early hours of the morning on that Sunday by a junior from another batch which I am not very well acquainted with who told me that the same black puppy appeared to be paralysed at the back of his house - which surprised me greatly because she had shown no signs of being that ill. Because I had plans to travel to Mangalore that day, I rang Tze Yong up and told him that he should get a vet to look at the poor thing and he said he would. Before I left for the bus station, I went to take a look at her.

What I saw haunted me for the rest of the day. She was emaciated with all her bones showing through her skin and large flies, feral striped ones about three times the size of a housefly, covered it like a grotesque, squirming blanket. I shooed the flies away but they kept coming back. The puppy was wet and it was possible that she was already lying there the night before, too weak to even move herself out of the rain. I'd have thought her dead if I hadn't see the subtle, almost imperceptible heaving of her tiny chest. She was struggling to breath, barely clinging on to the tattered remains of her life.

She opened her eyes a little as I approached her and call me crazy but I could see it in her eyes - I could see how afraid she was. She was afraid that I was going to hit her.

I hated to leave her but I had a bus to catch and besides, Tze Yong would look into it, I supposed.
I received an SMS from him later that day telling me that the puppy was already sick the evening before; she couldn't support herself and she kept falling down heavily into her bowl even when she was eating. He had already asked the vet to look at her then. The vet only gave her an antibiotic jab which, evidently, did not work.

The flies, they knew it was about time.

Evening, 13th July 2008

I came home from Mangalore and immediately ran to the back where I saw the puppy that morning and found her at the exact same spot I left her. I phoned Tze Yong and found that he had not called the vet in the entirety of the day I spent in Mangalore! I decided that she couldn't wait anymore so I asked Tze Yong for the number and made the call myself. By the time the vet arrived, it was two hours later and it was already dark out.

After examining her with a torch, the vet said that the puppy probably experienced some sort of spinal injury, due to trauma. Someone must have beaten or kicked her till her spine broke. He also said that the puppy seemed be suffering from an internal hemorrhage, also due to trauma.

I asked him if he had anything to give her to ease her pain or put her to sleep but he shook his head, saying "The drug for that is illegal in this part of India". I asked if I could move her to someplace warmer and dryer but he said it was best not to. I risked giving her more pain if I did. She was paralysed and couldn't move a paw, and blood was trickling out into her body cavities, choking her with cruel and excruciating slowness - and there was nothing I could do about it. I could only curse the person who brutalised her. I cursed all night and into my sleep but it offered me not one whit of comfort. Curses couldn't hurt the person who hurt her. I wish I could find out who it was but I know there are only dead ends there. I felt that I could do nothing. I couldn't even make her last few hours comfortable. It made me feel small and weak.

"It'll probably die on its own soon," said the vet, "but if it's still alive tomorrow, give me a call."

I hoped she would pass on soon, for her sake.

And selfishly, for mine.

14th July, 2008, My Birthday

That's the first thing I did before class that morning - I went to the back again, expecting to find the broken remnants of a puppy which no longer was, but against all the odds stacked against her, I found that she was still breathing - so slowly and softly that I could hardly make it out, but it was unmistakably there. She suffered and suffered, too weak to even whine, all through the cold monsoon night. She hadn't eaten - or even had a single drop of water - for two entire nights. She no longer even opened her eyes when I went close to her. It was one of the most heart-breaking things I had ever seen. She desperately wanted to live. There was so much frolicking left to do, so much more garbage to sniff at, slippers to chew, cats to chase and play-romps with her sister but no, never again. I could just imagine her lying there to die, unable to move and fighting to breathe, wondering why in her simple, innocent puppy mind she couldn't do all that anymore. She was going to die. She was going to die because some sick, sadistic human hit her. Some sick, sadistic monster hit her till her spine broke and made her bleed inside.

"The puppy's still alive," I told Tze Yong when I met Li Lian and him on the way to class that day. "The puppy's still alive," I said to Josephine and Sin Dee, who went to see the puppy with me in the previous evening. "The puppy's still alive," I told Nickson in class, and anyone else who knew about the poor creature dying slowly at the back of someone's house. I said that over and over again in anger, in frustration, in impotence; "The puppy's still alive, the puppy's still alive, the puppy's still alive..."

"... and there's nothing I can do about it," was what I did not say.

I came back in the afternoon and thankfully, it had ended. Virapa, the groundskeeper was standing over her when I got there. I wondered if he waited for me to return before taking care of the carcass. Maybe he did. He knows that I love the puppies - he saw me playing with them everyday after I got home from school. He said something to me in Kannada, but I could not understand it.

Then, he lifted the dead puppy by its legs and hurled it over the wall onto the hillside and the wilderness at the back of Acharya Compound - a strange act of finality. No hole in the ground. No gravestone to mark where it rests. I stayed for a little while after he left, feeling simultaneously glad and sombre. It felt like I was attending a funeral of a member of my family. Maybe it was because I know that dogs look at the humans they live with as members of their own pack. They are intensely social animals. The puppy probably considered every single person living in Acharya compound as friend and kin, even the vile beast who murdered her.

And when her family lashed out at her and hurt her, she began fearing everyone she thought she could trust. That was why she was afraid that I would hit her too.

Here are some old pictures of the puppies which I promised to show you, Phoebe, and it sucked that one of them is no longer here. I fear for the brown one now, living in the same place as the sociopath who killed her sister,








Please, don't hit dogs and especially, puppies. They aren't as tough as you think they are. Discipline them using a stern voice or even better, growl at them. It works. If you must hit them to train them, use a cane - the sort you whack children with. It wouldn't injure them.

If a puppy chewed your stuff to bits, you can scare it into not doing that again. Make loud noises, stamp your feet, or give a sharp smack to the snout. They'll get the message across. Don't hit or kick it under the pretext and pretense of "teaching it". There's a difference between that and lashing out to vent your anger. If you left your slippers out for them, it's your own damn fault. You cannot punish them for that. You cannot kill them for that.

The dogs and puppies in Acharya Compound, no matter how friendly and tame, are still essentially strays. Virapa let them live here to keep out the snakes, to keep your sorry asses safe.

It makes me sad that a puppy, a creature so frail and innocent, died in the place of someone evil who killed it, someone who deserves to die so much more.

I couldn't celebrate my birthday this year.

There's nothing to celebrate.

Sick of humans,
k0k s3n w4i


fubi said...

poor baby T_T d brown puppy so poser k. she keeps lookin at d camera xD i wish her sis ws stil alive T_T

Betsy said...

Hi bro! Anyway, happy belated b'day! I just only found out you read my blog occasionally (told by Phoebe). And I was flabbergasted. Your comment (at my blog) brought me down to Memory Lane on how you always manage to dig out mistakes from anything I type, do or even say. Used to really hurt a lot when you gave me feedbacks (for anything at all), but now, I can just laugh it off. Guess I changed, and well, you did as well. Except maybe your adoration to animals, especially dogs. Remember Pixel? The Cocker Spaniel that used to be part of our family :)

Anyway, I was having doubts even on leaving a comment here as I thought it was a bit awkward (well for me). We barely keep in contact for quite awhile. The last time was around Chinese New Year I think, where you sms-ed me advices to take care of myself in Taylor's.

I'd been reading your blog posts for many hours and I must admit, it's really NICE! *hides my blog in shame*

I'm not even typing coherently now and just leaving rambles behind. Take care!

Do not correct any grammatical errors or wrong usage of words in this comment! XD

Micz a.k.a Michelle said...

Did some blog hopping and found your site.... Just wanna tell you that i am sorry for your lost and i truly understand how you feel....

Yes there are many sickos out there who takes these innocent life as dirt, keep up the good job and this world definitely need more people like you.

Enjoy reading your blog and may God bless you and family.

fubi said...

i use 2read ur blog posts 4hrs too T_T so nice k

specialhuman said...

I wouldn't say I am a as much dog-lover like u as I had a terrible experience of almost being torn apart by 2 hunting dogs in my childhood.

Anyway, I still find them adorable and is always a good companion.

It's sad to have such terrible things happen on ur birthday. I am sorry about that.

By the way, Happy Belated Birthday. (Just found out that mine is a day after urs. lol)

michelleg said...

so sad. that dog is so cute! humans are the worst kind really. the atrocities that they have done are just out of this world. sick humans.

fuolornis said...

that bastard that did that to the puppy deserve to rot in hell. why hurt an innocent puppy? heartless bastards

Jen said...

sigh, i'm sorry to hear that. its disgusting to hear of such treatment towards an innocent (and too damn cute for words) animal. sickening.

anyways, i hope you at least enjoyed some of your birthday eh?

k0k s3n w4i said...

fubi: yeah :( i hope ur hostel-mates there don't do anything to you puppies

betsy: thanks. yes, i remember Pixel. Phoebe is sort of like the editor of this blog. she straighten up my grammatical errors for me, so credit's to her too.

micz: the world needs more people like you too :) thanks for reading

special human: 15th of July eh? happy belated birthday to you too. the owner of those hunting dogs must have been really careless to allow his dogs to roam free like this. they tend to mistake little children for prey.

michelleg: yeah. makes me wonder why i'm trying to become a doctor to save these scums.

fuolornis: I know u'd be pissed about this, tai lo. if i find out who it is we both go beat the shit out of him okay?

jen: hi jen. well, a small part of it is pretty awesome but it's hard to be in the mood for cheer when a puppy died :(