23rd October is a special day for me. We celebrate Shaka turning a year older. This year he would have turned 9 in dogs’ years and 63 if he had been human. This is a letter to him knowing well he couldn’t have read the type and only saw it in my eyes and today when his physical self isn’t among us, its our thoughts that reach out to his energy that is ever present on every stone, every tree and everything except my leg that he so marked with due diligence. ….
My dear Shakiboy,
The apple of my eye, the beat in my heart, my son, my friend… I wish you today on your big day all the best in the time to come.
Oh, your boys do roam so freely on the grounds of Dhole’s Den and finally Simba is free to do what he wishes. And I love both Simba and his big dreamer brother Jabu and their mother Zulu the queen of our hearts evermore than before. They greet me every morning with their howl and every time my car stands at the gate with the ‘welcome song’ that is so unique of the hounds of Bandipur. But there is one note that is conspicuously missing in the song and that is yours. You always ended the song with a not so melodious tone as perhaps Zulu, who I believe is capable of music or even her kids who manage a decent pitch. Yours could be easily termed discordant but not raucous as it always was a tone reaching for what had left the chords of your peers and subordinates.
To me it was always a joy to see you try and catch up with the other three as they howled but you put the full stop in the fanfare that the howling can be termed at times. Yours was the last word on that song of ‘coming together’ or ‘the announcement of ownership’ of the vista that Dhole’s Den has to offer and every time you made it a point to express yourself vociferously and in right measure. Your melody was the one that wanted to be heard and therein lay the difference between what the others tried to express.
Since you left your earthly abode in April this year, I walk up twice every day when I am in Bandipur to be at your resting place. In the mornings I lay a flower for you and remember to take you along on the walk that follows. It’s for us and especially for me, many a times more than difficult to stand thinking you don’t run before us and look back in that very special way that will be yours only. I spend more than a moment to sit among the flowers that mark your resting place looking at our sunset in the distance.
Your gait had a bounce that other dog parents who have seen you admired. Even when strangers approached you stood your ground and never ‘fired’ before you knew it was necessary. Your deep growl while standing and flanking me was enough to freeze blood in their veins and show them their place. And yet you had that chuckle in the way you smacked your lips and an ear that would lie not symmetrical on your head. You were keen on having a bit more of everything not to forget life and time. That slice of time didn’t make it to us two as we would have wanted to be, to nibble upon longer on that tasty bone of love that the universe had provided us.
Just the other day, a dear friend comforted me in a moment I missed you, she asked me to be happy for the unconditional love that you gave me. You my friend, my constant companion I still see you near me in spirit and am grateful to feel your presence every day and though life has torn us apart, I am glad each passing day is getting us closer to the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ where we shall meet again with all our friends and revel under the sunshine of a thousand suns and not care for the veil of night to ever fall upon us.
And just as one knows love never dies, the universe has been kind to grace our townhouse in Mysore with two other canine souls: Jacqueline and Karlchen. Jacqueline came to us while Shaka was battling this worldly existence. Karlchen was found a month ago almost at the end of his energy, dumped just outside on the road and after a month’s caring, deworming and primary vaccination, has looks that are like yours with white toes and a whitish belly. Even the ear is turned just on the same side as yours my child.
Looks like you managed to convince the universe to send me a ray of hope to remind me of not stop loving and that love encompasses larger spheres than physical boundaries. To my simple mind it seems the universe paid heed to the cries and prayers of my soul which was missing you badly and sent to me Jacqueline and Karlchen and upon holding and caressing them, I realised was nothing else but bundles of ‘Your Love’.
Happy Birthday King of Dhole’s Den!