It never occurred to me that I would one day sit down to pen this. Never in my wildest dreams. I am listening to “Carry On” by Fun as I write you and to be honest there’s no fun in it. I had actually forgotten all about it until some random YouTube code brought it up in my random playlist. It’s an old song I used to like back in 2014. It’s 2020 now and I honestly don’t know how to feel about it. My enthusiasm with its lyrics seems to have faded away with time. So much has happened, so much is happening and so much will happen. Everything moves and things change.
It’s 7pm over here. My brother Frank (you never got to meet him) is a thousand leagues away at a party, culminating the end of a gruesome five-year engineering course. The house feels empty and I can’t help but have distant thoughts of how you used wag your little tail and howl when in need of milk. Our neighbor Caspal is loudly playing some new song that Sanaipei features in and that doesn’t bring any solace to this already devastating situation. I like how its beats flow but I’m too lazy to reach for my Shazam. I don’t know why I’m writing you this letter. I mean, dogs don’t read letters. Deceased dogs definitely don’t read letters. But I have started and it’s probably too late now to come to a stop. Besides, it feels like my final act of connection to your little departed spirit. I also tend to think that writing letters is my highest expression of love. And I just realized that there are so many words that were left unsaid between you and I.
To be honest, I feel so much beaten by a broken dream right now. The dream of walking with you in a park or feeding you soft bones and play ball together in front of the house. It’s crazy that I am writing all this in the first place. Myself, I find it unbelievable that I am composing an epistle to dead dog instead of compiling an Environmental Law group assignment. I clearly underestimated my levels of attachment and it has blown up in my face like a ballistic missile would at its target destination. People who knew me from childhood will read this with unfettered amazement. I can already see the shock in their faces. I picture many of them sneering and nodding with disapproval while holding their phones at a distance. My long-time friend Jeff will probably wear a smug look on his face and marvel with distaste at the kind of wretched softie that I have become. Masiga, with his open subscription to stoicism, will definitely ridicule this venture and tell me to stop whining about a dog.
I wouldn’t blame any of them. I am equally shocked that I let my heart sway to the innocent trust and love that a white Basenji African dog gave me unwaveringly. I was never a pet person. Everyone knew that. But you, Duke, came from my grandma. And my grandma has a special portion of my love so I naturally fell for you and your little doggishness. My mind is still so graphical with many images of you. The little moments I spent with you at home are haunting me away in this cold Ngong evening. The memories of me feeding you milk to satisfaction are some of the most fulfilling days I ever had in my life. I had a puppy for once. A beautiful white puppy from my beloved grandma. My heart was covered. I felt like I needed no more love during those times. I could tolerate even the coldest of silent treatments from the best of my friends with you by my side. I could live with blue ticks from literally anyone, even my dad, because I knew that your beautiful face would snuggle around my legs whenever I came back home. I could even deal with Jack Brian’s dislike for classics because your affection taught me to be slow to anger and quick to reason. I felt invincible.
And now I stare at a huge gaping emptiness caused by your absence. It smells like vulnerability in here. I stare at an abyss left by your untimely demise. The fact that I am writing this on a Thursday evening is enough testament of my terrible anguish. The phrase “dog is man’s best friend” keeps popping in my head and I suddenly have this excruciating guilt that pierces the capillaries of my heart. This is the point at which some folks would say “I need a drink”. I should have been around as you wasted away in illness. That’s what any best friend would do. I can’t help but think that my presence could have altered your fate. That seeing me could have earned you a new lease at life is a thought I can’t easily get rid of. But if your departure was imminent then maybe I should have been the last face you see before your eyes close forever. I feel like I’m the worst dog owner in the history of pet ownership.
Basenji dogs are mostly hunting breeds but since that first day Christine brought you home from grandma’s, I knew that you weren’t built for any raids or hunting. You were the classical dictionary definition of a pet. I had never met a dog that was so much easy on the eyes with a soft innocent look that could earn the trust of any skeptic. So I petted you and loved you unwaveringly like all dog lovers usually do. At some point, I had to be vigilant enough to prevent Joy and Josh from feeding you cakes and yoghurt. I didn’t post you on my status or tell many people about you because this looked like the kind of relationship that was to be enjoyed confidentially and in deep privacy.
It’s sad that I’m only coming out openly with it as you lay being six feet under in our backyard. It even hurts more that I haven’t stood over your tiny grave to pay my final respects and express my deepest gratitude for your unconditional love. Your comfort helped me through a pandemic. When my online classes almost turned me into a zombie, I remember finding solace in you laying by my feet and making meaningless barking sounds. The joy of seeing you waggle your tail while wearing a little innocent face is probably what kept me from degenerating into ‘a walking dead’ when the stresses of life peaked. You brought into perspective the kind of loyalty that is extremely rare in men.
I am still coming to terms with the fact that no one informed me about your ailment. And that they chose my cousin Jim to relay the news of your passing. That joker chuckled as he took me through the painful ordeal. I wished I could insert my hand through the phone and smack the back of his rectangular head. Not that it could bring any comfort. But that could have been a good way of letting out the anger. Such action would be meaningless though. The tragedy had already unfolded like those hurricanes with beautiful names usually do. What is left now is a state of despair.
My tired brain could highly benefit from the soft sounds of your barking right now. Surely, this is not the life we had in mind. I could carry on from this loss. You could certainly carry on from it wherever you are but I feel like my heart is a little colder than usual. I feel edgy. I keep wondering whether we fought all those bad days, demons and a pandemic just to end up here. With you gone and with me full of reminiscence and nervousness.
Safe passage in your travels you cute hound. There’s a place for hounds like you and it’s made of gold. I’ll miss you forever.