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. During our days of dating, a party was thrown at Adi’s for his friends. We were chatting in the living room when who should patter in quite curious at being left out of all this natter? Now 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. If he could have voiced the confusion that showed upon his face at that moment, it would have been something along the lines of ‘I just want a pat and some food from your plate, lady, so why must you shriek so!’ So he inched closer to the couch and to her. She would have none of him, and he would but meet her, thank you. Opposing wills were at work here.
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 kebabs I handed him – with alacrity. Adi also insists that Tuktuk thought of me as a giant walking, talking kebab.
When Adi travelled for work, and I would visit my future in-laws often, Tuktuk inevitably slept in my room. Every morning, quite so early, I would wake up to see him eyeing me rather solemnly. He was a grand old man in those moments. Huffing and puffing because he needed to go for his morning wee.
Later when we were married and I lived for about 6 months at my in-laws’ place, a single woof outside the door used to be our signal. ‘Let me in you bozos. I want some of that air conditioning too. I mean have you seen my bloody thick coat?’ Tuktuk waited outside our door thus, waiting to be let in on hot summer nights. And how we teased him. Our boy did not like being ignored, so we would be all cuddly and pretend to ignore him. Naturally he would nudge each of us repeatedly. Then he would go and sit with his bum facing us. Any attempt at cajoling would be met by the sight of the bum.
But then Tuktuk always gave in. And when he did, he would 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. I am sure he would think then, ‘Oh god these silly humans. Do I have to indulge them to 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.