Sunday, March 28, 2010

The last weekend

Saturday morning sees us at the dog run in a location which I shall not name because it was so wonderfully quiet. The run is huge. When we look over at Chip from one end, he’s a tiny white and black dot against a sea of green.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that there are no other dogs there because I did want to see Chip socialise. He’s not pressed for things to do, though, he spends the entire time running along the fence at the perimeter sniffing traces left by those before him.

He is so caught up in exploring that he’s deaf to our calls – that is, until he feels like he needs a drink of water. Dhany and I slowly walk after him on the dappled grass as he trots over tree roots and branches.

It’s not enough to exhaust him, however, the mutt is still hale at 12 and is hyperactive throughout lunch and the car ride home after. He even zips from the front gate to the backyard in the evening, chasing a cat that he can hear mewling in the twilight.

Only at midnight does he finally tire, completely passing out into the deep, burden-free sleep of the innocent.

Serendipity takes me and my mother to Starbucks at Earth hour, which we have entirely forgotten about. Starbucks is the perfect place to be in situations like this – quirky, fun, and always enthusiastic about joining in any celebration.

One of the staff members comes out from behind the bar to announce that they will be dimming the lights in five minutes and the whole joint cheers. They hand out thin glow sticks which people wear on their heads and wrists like neon halos.

We even get door gifts – candles stuck on glow-in-the-dark stars to help us out in the dark. At 830pm, there is a slightly messy countdown and most the lights are turned off.

Everyone is laughing and chatting in the dark and somehow, the chocolate swirl loaf tastes even more festive than it did before. We watch people going up and down the street with candles and listen to soft jazz.

Half an hour in, we go home to find the house in complete darkness and scrounge up some candles to light up the living room. It’s quiet now, and the air of gaiety at the coffee shop has dissipated like smoke.

My father comes home from his walk and we sit, the three of us, in darkness and silence by flickering candlelight. The air is heavy with things unsaid. Dogs are barking down the street and the occasional car purrs past.

Suddenly, vividly, I’m reminded of India, where blackouts were imminent three or four times a day. We would sit, my three roommates and I, in sweltering heat by candle and torchlight, writing letters or scribbling in our journals.

In the corner of the room, an ineffectual mosquito coil sent up acrid spirals. The pile of dusty ash below littered the floor and in the uncomfortable humidity, we all reeked of insect repellent.

The frustration of not being able to go anywhere, the constant itch of insect bites and heat rash, the still, muggy air.

India has nothing in common with this moment in my home except that dogs were barking in the village too. I suppose dogs all round the world sound the same.

That, and the fact that in both places, I long for nothing more than to be somewhere else.

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