We grew up together. Literally. My first memory of us together is one bundle rolling around on the ground, legs and bodies all entwined. We were the same size and weight and maybe, just maybe, if it had stayed that way he would still be around.
While we were the same in size he was better at just about everything; jumping, kicking, rolling, heck he even had better control over his bowels than me. But that never stopped me from bossing him around. His verbal skills were far superior than mine. He could say “woof” and I chortled, no words. But I had a name, Kukki, and he was nameless. So somehow I felt justified in grabbing his ear and dragging him off into the garden to sit under the guava tree, my favorite hangout. He would humor me, breathe with his tongue hanging out while I dug into the soft mud with my bare hands occasionally eating dirt if I thought no one was looking. After mama and papa my next word was puppy and that’s how he got a name: Puppy.
I have to admit that as we got to know one other better, I found Puppy had many qualities I did not admire. For one he was far more fastidious, picky and even snotty. Take this for instance. To measure ourselves we would lay flat on the floor on our backs and we would be the same size. Soon he started getting taller and I would resort to stretching my legs toes pointed down out and my hands stretched over my head. Puppy would always find a clean carpet to lay on while I liked to be anywhere outdoors especially under the guava tree where there was a depression that favored my height over his length. I would have to drag him there and that was getting harder and harder. To be fair to him, while I stretched hard and long, he curved his back and pulled in his leg as he looked at me aslant. But eventually even that did not work. He was just bigger, no getting around it, but I was still boss and that was okay with him.
With that new dynamic, I proudly took to walking around with him in tow. He had better hair than I did and a tail that wagged nonstop. Oh how I wished I had a tail – it is a far better tool for expressing yourself (disdain for the world that did not own Puppy would be mine) than anything else I can think of. No matter. I had Puppy and by association a tail.
About the time he got bigger than me I had to start school and with all that time on his paws, he found independence. At about 95 lbs he was a harmless giant. But his size scared others. I thought he was beautiful with his mutt-bred elegance, brown-gold hair, Alsatian face and Golden Retriever body. When I was in school he took to roaming the neighborhood streets in the company of his furry friends. Kindly neighbors would escort him back but he was a free spirit and he chafed, mewled, barked when he was tied up.
One day I came back from school and Puppy was not waiting for me at the gate. I threw a fit – that no-good bum, how dare he not be at his post! But even as I threw my fit, I knew something was different. Papa held me close and mama who would normally ignore me hovered around looking stressed. So I wiped my tears and asked what Uncle was doing there. My uncle lived close by and he was a writer. He said he had brought a gift for me.
“Its a story” he said handing me a sheaf of papers.
“I wrote it just for you and I am going to read it to you. Its called Kukki’s Puppy.” I loved stories, especially ones that started with once upon a time.
“Once upon a time…..” He began.
We buried puppy under the guava tree. My dad himself dug the giant sized hole so he could stretch out Puppy, hit by a passing truck, mangled but still beautiful.
Kukki’s Puppy is seared in my brain never to be lost. Words are forever. Puppies are forever. Friends are forever. At least that part of forever that matters.
Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.