This is a post about a kebab-loving labrador. Because today is his birthday and he is in doggie heaven having a kebab party.
Tuktuk came into my life along with my husband when we met in a bar in Delhi in 2009 and he started wooing me. I met Adi in the bar, not Tuktuk who did not even have to try to woo me. Photographs of the dog with the tigger-like face popped up in my facebook messages in the summer of 2009. Then I met the handsome boy in person, only to realise that I had found my second soulmate.
Tuktuk was a big, sinewy labrador. If you were wary of dogs, you would think twice about patting him. At a party at Adi’s place (when we were dating) where all his friends had been invited, we were chatting in the living room. When who should patter in quite curious but Tuktuk. How could he be left out of all the natter? One of the gang was a girl who was petrified of dogs. She leapt up on the couch and started shrieking. Imagine Tuktuk’s confusion, if you will. “I just want a pat and some food from your plate, lady.” You could see the obvious thought running through his mind as he inched closer to the couch and her. She would have none of him and he would but meet her, thank you. Opposing wills at work.
Tuktuk was soon taken away to the other room. I took him some food to comfort his wounded ego. Who would know the solace you can find in food better than me – we shared the common passion of devouring anything put in front of us, Tuktuk and I.
Adi maintains that Tuktuk was a vegetarian. That is before I walked into his life. I saw anything but the non-vegetarian in him. He would demolish the meat kebabs I used to hand him with some alacrity. Adi also emphasises this that Tuktuk possibly thought of me as a giant walking, talking kebab.
When Adi would travel for work and I would visit my future in-laws often, Tuktuk would inevitably sleep in my room. Every morning, quite so early, I would wake up and see him standing next to me, looking at me rather solemnly. He was a bit of a grand old man at those moments. He would just huff and puff. That is all. I would get up bleary-eyed from bed and let him out of the room for his morning walk.
Later when we were married and I lived for about 6 months with Adi at my in-laws’ place, it used to be a daily routine. A single woof outside the door. It used to be a signal. “Let me in you selfish geeks. I too want some of that air conditioning. Have you seen my bloody thick coat?” Tuktuk would wait outside the door waiting to be let in on hot summer nights. We would let him in and tease him too. Tuktuk did not like being ignored so we would pretend to be all cuddly and he would come by the side of the bed and nudge us repeatedly. Then he would go and sit with his bum facing us. Any attempt at cajoling would be met by a resigned “piss off” look conveyed through the bum. But he would always give in, in time, and come bounding over with his tail wagging nineteen-to-the-dozen, tongue hanging out.
His birthdays were occasion for celebration, sometimes him turning into a pirate in the bargain, because I am sure he would think, “Oh god these silly humans, I have to indulge them or how do I get the goodies”. He lived 13 years in a very loving home, my in-laws were his indulgent grandparents because Tuktuk was Adi’s baby. He was. He is.
We miss him.
We got the news one early morning, when we were in the Belgian town of Mechelen. That he had quietly passed away in his sleep. It was unreal. The thing about such news is that it takes some time to sink in, and when it does, it leaves its mark. This poem gave us some comfort at the time:
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Happy birthday Tuktuk.