There’s a constant ache in my chest. But I’m forgetting again and again what’s causing it. I ask myself, “Why do I feel so?” Then I remember.

Sweety died.

And I remember her golden coat so shiny under the sun’s light as she sprang about the neighbourhood. And her soft eyes as she looked up every time I called out, “Hi girl,” from the balcony. And her haughty airs as she perched atop her throne of sawdust, paying no heed to the food that was laid out for her.

Sweety was everyone’s and no one’s. She was free. But she was so proud. She reminded me sometimes of the Little Prince’s Rose. Perhaps she had reasons enough for her pride. She was young and beautiful and feminine in her graces. She was the darling of the neighbourhood.

How she tested mumma’s patience every time she brought her food. Mumma would wait, call out her name again and again, and at last leave the warm food down below to turn cold. Sweety would still feign indifference, her nose pointing towards the heavens. But let another dog so much as sniff at her food and how she would growl.

I didn’t care much about Sweety. I had known her only two years. I had touched her only once, her soft forehead. I didn’t care much about her, at least not as much as mumma and Kriti did. Mumma composed a song for her that she sang all day, all night. And Kriti said Sweety was her own. But I didn’t care much about her. Perhaps because she didn’t care about me at all. A Rose, a Rose!

One time, I saw her on her sawdust throne, shivering the night away, but too proud to seek the warmth of the bed some neighbours had for her. Another time when she was sick, she did not once let it be known that she was. Only, she kept to herself and refused to eat until the neighbours, fearing the worse, drove the vet to her. And when she let herself be injected, it was as if a favour for others. A true Rose.

I remember the last time I saw her, she looked so tired. Her rib cage was visible through her ruffled coat. Had she gotten into another of her fights, I wondered? Or is this the shedding season?

Then days passed and weeks. I hadn’t seen her. I only heard mumma call out her name for food, singing her song. And then one day, no one came down from her throne. Not even the next day. Not even the day after.

Somebody said she died of cold. I think she died of pride.

But was she all alone? And did she suffer too much? I don’t know. They found her dead, perhaps on her throne, perhaps by the road like a common cur. I don’t know. I cared so little about her, I thought. She wasn’t mine. But was she not? My only consolation is that at least she doesn’t have to endure the coming winter for her pride.

I pause to look out at the neighbourhood street. Nobody springs about with her golden coat so shiny. Nobody looks up when I call out, “Hi girl.” The throne of sawdust is empty.

2 thoughts on “Throne of Sawdust

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