I watched intently the thin wisps of steam wafting up from the hot cup of coffee that was placed a few inches infront of my book. Tapping my fingernails a few times on the table, acting as if I was trying to figure out an apparently hard mathematics problem, my hand moved slowly towards the cup and jumped back a little at the sudden heat of the cup, the teacher looked at my hands, distracted from reading his newspaper, during which I managed a glance at the clock on the far wall on the other side of the room. Still about half an hour till this prick leaves.. still, a lot of time, a lot of problems, and still about six months that I will have to bear with this madness.
My distracted, bored brother sat opposite me, at disadvantage that he couldn't see the time. He compensated his rather ill fate with trying to peer into the tutor's watch, his head reclining comfortably, rather too comfortably in his palm, his elbow resting on the groaning table. The teacher straightened his watch hand away and folded his arms. Little brother looks up at him and then grins and presents him with another unsolved query.. "how.. ?". Rather than answering himself, he turns to me and points, do YOU know, you SHOULD know this, however else will you do THAT. Tell me tell me. Tell me.
I don't know. I'm stupid. Wy don't you just go home to your squeaky-voiced little wife and to your brand new son and eat dinner, which you have been thinking about for the past hour, anyway. Do not on any condition use your brain and solve the kid's problem, for god's sake. Do I not have a life other than wasting my time away at something I couldn't do for a million dollars, atleast you do it, if only for two square meals a day.
I glared and chewing my fingernails took a look at the ragged, beat-up looking, tired mathematics book, which was the most used object in the house and the least usable. Tapped the book with fingernails again and sat deciding if I wanted to stop pretend studying after all, because it was getting pretty boring, or maybe take a break, go to the washroom and on the way see what's on TV. Or maybe just take a peek on my scrapbook and see what's new and if someone loves me still.
Banishing all the thoughts I tried to concentrate on the work at hand and finally I'm getting it.. and then there it was. A faint shuffle and scratch outside the main door. There, again. And every one of us three turn to look. The wooden doors are shut, mum enters the scene, curious to see who's up with the disturbance, listening to a growing scratching at the doorstep, a faint shuffling and beating on the doorway, she stands there looking about. And then down at her feet.
There it is.
A glossy black puppy. A stray. Coal black, big-eyed and tiny. Whining a little sadly, shivering and looking in with very sad puppy-dog eyes. My hands let go off the pen and the papers, my heart feeling as if it's about to burst and a very vivid feelings of how it must feel when one meets a long lost son, who they've never even met.. and who, by the way, in fact, was very, very in need of her.
I get up with a start, a very audible aww materialising in my mouth, pouting, hands outstretched, I'm coming to baby, no no, don't you cry. Come here, now. Mommy's here, don't worry. I rush to the door just to be pulled back very firmly and asked what the heck do I think I'm doing. Well, he'll die there in the cold. Let me do something. SOMEthing. Another pouty expression, apparently a very cute one at that and that's why it actually worked. Can I go and at least find out where this bundle of joy came from. And could I at least return in to his mommy. Well, I am his real mommy but you know what I mean.
Reluctant okays, at least take your brother. Don't go out alone. A ghost of a smile. Like mother like daughter is all I hint at. Stepping out of the door I don't even feel a tiny bit cold. Passing through the gate and looking down at his chocolate brown, wide-eyes, feeling his tiny body in my arms, the complete bliss in it, I hear an eager "Can we call him Shadow? I always wanted a dog named Shadow.." Well, why didn't you name your dog Shadow then? "He is NOT all black." My brother's very clear disbelief at how my brain works so irrationally.. he catches up forcing his way into his jacket and shouting the dog's name, coming up and stopping he scratches behind the pooch's ears.
We stop and hear faint excuses coming from the house's direction, mum talking to the teacher about the weather etcetera. "Can we keep him?" Yeah.. can't even take care of two, you want another one, who'll feed him everyday, you can't even take yours out for a walk two times every day, blah blah, I tell him mocking at you know who. He nods his head agreeably and we start on our quest on finding where this guy's mother is. He probably ran away from her scoldings as well. And we laugh.
Not too far away, just the next bend in the road we find that's where he's supposed to have escaped from. A seventeen-year old guy, at least that's what he looked like, leaning on the gate, with a hand on his bicycle. He says there were more of this kind. Yes, and a mother. Will probably return. So we put him down and walk a few steps away, looking back longingly at the little black bundle.
I run back and cover him with this torn rag some kind soul probably left from them in this chilling cold. I bid him goodbye and we half run half walk back to the house, to our mother telling us not to waste any more time.
And I return to my sums while the door is shut and I look to see that about 10 minutes are left of this cruel torture. So when finally he leaves, I heave a sigh of relief and run upstairs, leaving the books behind me open, and mum screaming at me to close them and put off the lights. And come down for dinner just this second. These kids, no manners.
I run upstairs and up to my room and slam the door and wake up my laptop and log in.
Hey all done studying? I missed you. Yep, me too. Guess what. And I tell him everything about Shadow and he tells me how nice I am. And how I'm a good person and how this makes me and how in turn that makes him feel. Yes. I tell him we'll go check up on the doggie tomorrow. ASAP. In the morning, as soon as we wake up.
Dinner is a usual affair and the same "sweet dreams". And yes, it is true I have noticed that when people tell me to have sweet dreams, they are and when they aren't meant to be, they aren't.
I wake up feeling, under the sheet an utter happiness that's so hard to define, a warm comfort I now pine for and a completeness that's now obsolete. I stretch out and think of incomplete things to say, to do and am aptly reminded. I slither out, go to the next room and shake the hell out of a sleeping brother.
We step out into the groggy winter sunshine, without suitable footwear, the roughness feeling just right to my bare, naked feet. And the grass with just the right amount of softness. It's all so nice. I walk up to the bend in the road, ready to be welcomed to the sight, the smell and the wide-eyes wonder of pure, unadultered love. I stare.
And there's nothing except the green rag that we lay him on the night before.
I look back at the sleepy form running up to me and he stops in his tracks. Oh no, she's going to cry, he's thinking. But I don't. We look for the cycle guy and he's there inside, sitting on the stairs, with a toothbrush in his hand. Where'd he go, we ask him. He said he watched him get up and follow this guy on the morning walk, probably. He says, this fat guy walked past on the opposite road, he got up and ran to him and then he followed him. And then he took his toothbrush and went inside. Shouting, don't worry, he'll find someone there. More of his kind on the main road. And even his mother would be there. Dogs are like that.
And he shut the door behind him.
We sullenly walked back the way we came and went about our own ways and never mentioned him again. A light flicked off for a second and turned back on again, full glare. Everything went back to normal.
And normalcy was happy, then it was sad, then it was normal.. and then there started the vicious cycle, well, it had gone on since I was a day old I guess, but sometimes nothing seems real until you think about it.
In retrospect, I feel that it was brief but it was beautiful. Just like everything else in my life. Just as I now know that almost everything is short-lived. Relatively short-lived compared to the life we live. Happiness is real. End is real. And everything else is just stupid make-believe.
Feelings fly swish infront of our eyes and hardly ever do we catch it. Even when it's possible.. and instead we suppose that it would last forever when nothing does. Nothing. Ever. Never.