Monday, January 21, 2013

That Fateful Day

I frequently reference Nishi's trauma and accident. About time I wrote about it. Well, I did write about it a while ago to tell her story to people who cared most about her. But it's time I put the story out to a wider audience. Often I wonder why I do this. Why do I write about her pain? Why do I talk about her troubles? I guess it's because I feel guilty. I have had several people tell me that there is no point in beating myself up. I disagree. It's not true that no one is at fault. I am at fault. Our kind - mankind - is at fault. My little Nishi was NOT at fault. She suffered for no fault of hers. So I owe it to her that I bear the pain of recollecting that horror and tell her story, so that each of us can extract our learning from it. Perhaps someday, some other innocent puppy is spared the pain that my little one had to endure. So, here is the blog that describes that day:

It was a Thursday. A long weekend round the corner. Uttam had bought us tickets to spend the weekend in Mumbai, as a birthday present. We both needed it. I had been having a long affair with misfortune and hoped a change of scene would somehow end the vile affair. Uttam had quit his job the same day and hoped the weekend would give him space to ruminate on what next. The only thing we needed to do was figure out what to do with Nishi, our 11 month old boxer puppy.

Our plan felt good. We would take Nishi to my sister’s house and spend the night. We would leave early next morning, before Nishi got up. And Nishi, would spend the weekend getting on my sisters nerves. We giggled at the thought of my sister coping with Nishis unbounded energy and exuberant love.

We knew Nishi was in good hands over the weekend. But the thought of her not being with me bothered me. Apartment dogs spend all their time indoors with owners. They become family. Nishi was my baby and being away from her even for a day, not having her pottering around or tearing around the house with her toys, not having her walk up to me every few hours asking for a good dose of petting, was not a thought I was comfortable with. I started hoping something would happen to cancel our trip. Uttam suggested we go on a walk to take my mind off this. I thought a walk would do me good. So we got ready for that walk.

We live on a busy road, much too busy for a walk with our lil doggie. So we quickly crossed the road and turned into the first small road. Still too many cars. We kept Nishi close and turned into a smaller road. This road was much better. Narrow enough for just one car to pass, residential and quiet. Nishi loved this road as well. She had made many doggie friends on this road - Gunda the lab, Curisie the cocker, Roxie and Mojo the boxers.

She came upon the first house with Gunda and Crusie. The dogs were not out. She still spent sometime sticking her head through the gate, as if she was calling out to them. When she realized they were not coming out, she sighed and left. Next up was Mojos house. Mojo was her best friend. She would do her boxer play dance and he would reciprocate. They both would rear on her hind legs and box with their front paws, the way boxers do. If Mojo has been let out, they would bolt up and down the road, for the sheer joy of bolting. Nishi loved this and started prancing on the way to his house.

As we reached Mojo’s house, Mojos owner walked out. He too loved watching the two of them play. So he let Mojo out. We often did this, and when we did, we stood guard at opposite ends of the road, to slow down any approaching vehicle. Mojos owner suggested that it was unnecessary as the road was far too narrow for any fast cars. But we insisted, at the risk of looking obsessive. No point in taking any risk with our little princess. So we took Nishi off her leash and got ready take positions. Then our lives changed!

I don’t remember seeing, hearing or understanding anything. I just remember just feeling! A sickening feeling in my stomach. Out of pure instinct, I screamed as loud as I could. I stopped screaming but continued to hear screaming. It wasn’t me, it was a dog screaming. There was a car in front of me and I saw the dogs running around. I saw Uttam standing in front of the car and pounding his fist on the bonnet. The car backed up a bit and I ran around to see what was going on. But I could not turn around to see what had happened. So I stood facing away and I continued to hear a dog screaming. But had I not seen the dogs run around the car. Gosh! It was not both of them running. It was just one of them. The other had been hit by the car. I let out another scream. No! Let it not be! No!

I turned around and saw Uttam was sitting on the road. He had a dark, almost black dog in his arms. Nishi! Her face had been shredded. Her tongue was hanging out and her eye was staring into a space I could not fathom. My Nishi. Another scream escaped my stomach. It was coming from deep within me. Like I was pleading to the universe to reverse this. Like if screamed loud enough, the universe would hear me. When I stopped Nishi was still screaming. But this time, it was different. When she was under the car, it was like she was pleading to be released from the grip of the car. But now, it was like she was wailing in pain and sorrow. She sounded like a crying child. I looked on helplessly, watching Uttam bent over her, covered in blood.

This could not be my Nishi. My Nishi never cried a single day. She never felt anything other than happieness. She had too much energy to be lying on the road for so long. She had gorgeous eyes that had won Uttam over. She loved to play. This was not my Nishi. “Water!”. Water? No Nishi did not like water. She hated baths. But she loved water falls. “Put water on it”. Put water on what, I wondered. Suddenly I was brought back to the scene in front of me. Someone was suggesting putting water on her. I looked at her. She had stopped screaming. She was trying to breathing, but only thing I heard was gurgling of blood in her throat. This was not my Nishi!

Suddenly I sensed a movement in Uttam. I don’t know what Uttam did at that moment or how he looked. I only remember feeling hope. Later Uttam told me that it was at that moment Uttam realized that Nishi was not dead. She had stopped bleeding and was still breathing. I am still not sure how I felt Uttams realization. My mind started racing. “Car! We need to get her to a vet! I need a car! Should I run home and bring a car? We don’t have money. Should I bring money? Uttam what do you want me to do?” I yelled. Mojo’s owner pulled up his car. Uttam carried Nishi in. Someone gave us money. I jumped into the car and we drove off. Nishi, please hang in there my baby.

Uttam seemed very calm. As I hysterically barked directions to our favorite vet, Uttam calmly suggested we go to the closest vet instead. After all, we were not in an ambulance. First aid was critical. How was Uttam being so calm while I was hysterically repeating everything he said several times over.

At the end of a seemingly endless drive, we reached the vet. I ran in and screamed “My dog! Someone help. Please help. My dog has been in an accident. Please help”. I ran back towards the door hoping someone would follow me. No one did. I ran back in and cried for help again. People in the room slowly diverted their eyes away from the TV to look at me and stare. They just seemed stunned. Screaming for help, I ran out to get Uttam and Nishi in. Thankfully, by the time we came back in, people had recovered from the initial shock and had prepped a table for her. She went on the table and the longest hour of my live commenced.

While we had been smart in going to the closest vet, to avoid Bangalore traffic, the vet himself was not spared by the unyielding peak hour city traffic. He arrived an hour after us. Meanwhile we could not sedate Nishi who could have been on the verge of slipping into a shock. So we just waited and waited. Not a peep from the little frail body on that table. Just heavy breathing. Once in a while she lifted her head, perhaps just looking for comfort. Just this small gesture was giving us comfort. Our Nishi was alive and moving.

More than two hours of us bringing her in Nishi went into surgery. Uttam washed up and came out to sit with me. “Uttam we let her down”, I said. She had never seen the need to be scared. She was confident that we would protect her always. And when she was under that car, screaming, I felt her needing to fight for herself. She no more had us. She had to get out of the car on her own. We were not there for her to hide behind. “Uttam we were not there for her”, I sobbed.

At 11 that night we finally took her home. No one could give me much reassurance about her, considering the injury being so close to her brain. We had to wait. And the wait continues. The next day we moved her to our favorite vet. What was to follow was days of X-rays, IV, injections, medicines, cleaning, vet visits and lots of waiting, watching and hoping.

In the next few days we discovered several complications - broken molars on her right side, broken jaw on her right side, an ulcer in her left that that needed surgery, loss of sensation on the right side of her face, an infection in her ears and nose...the list seemed endless. As I write this down, we are still waiting for her left eye to be opened, sensation to return to her face, jaw to heal and the infection to clear in her nose.

It’s 5 AM and I am up. I can still hear her screaming. I open my eyes to see her little snout, less than a centimeter from my nose. Nishi has made it a habit of climbing into our bed, ever since the accident. She is snoring funny. This is the most comforting sound for me. It reassures me that my Nishi is alive. Tonight she has brought a toy to the bed. She seems to have play on her mind at all times. Sometimes I wonder if she continues playing in her dreams. Even on days when she must have been in excruciating pain, if she gathered the strength to get out of bed, it would be to go get a toy. Despite having limited vision, no sense of smell and being in unimaginable pain, she never fails to give visitors the warmest welcome. After all that she has been through, she has nothing short of complete trust and unadulterated love for every person she meets.  Thought I cannot forgive myself for letting her down, she has forgiven me, trusts me, loves me, accepts my love with no inhibitions and is here beside me, sleeping peacefully. When she finds it so easy to cope, why can I not? Guess she can cope because of her spirit, her enormous heart, her zest for life and her tremendous capacity for sheer joy!

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