Two medical doctors came walking and stopped near me with sneer in their faces. “He’s a leather jacket,” said one. The other laughed, “He’s got scabies, poor thing!” This angered me mightily. The thing is, I could do nothing to them and walked on with my tail between my legs, literally.
I must have looked funny but I couldn’t care less. “Their scorn and life be damned,” I prayed. What I urgently needed was a little sun on my back and peace. That’s all. Not their spittle and leftovers. No. Truth be told, I hadn’t the energy and courage even to grrrrrrr… at them. That was me, one hellish winter long ago.
Let me tell you this, the thing I learned after all this: The morning of December 27, 2010, was warm and bright; the sky blue and vast. A beautiful winter morning indeed. At any rate, this is how I imagine it was.
The students of Royal Institute of Health Sciences in Thimphu were on their way to Punakha hospital where they had planned their retreat camp. The journey down from Thimphu, past the snow-covered Dochula, was fun and filled with songs of joy. So was I, they said. I heard them talking, honestly. The distant mountains seemed to echo their songs, their excitement, shimmering in silence. Orchids hung from the giant, moss-covered, evergreen trees like golden locks with white and purple flowers. All these wouldn’t have mattered a speck to a dog, I suppose. They made it sound overly divine, however.
They stopped at the pass to enjoy the scenery. Tourists were taking pictures of the mountains, prayer flags and the many choetens on the hillock at the pass. Of the vastness of silence in astounding splendour, perhaps. A dog has only to imagine all these.
As they got further down from the pass towards Punakha, they could feel temperature rising after every turn. The ride started getting bumpier. It took them more than two hours to reach Punakha.
Late in the evening, as sun was going down behind the mountains, they began complaining about cold. Most of them went to bed early, cradling their head between their hands under borrowed blankets. I had none to borrow blankets from and tried in vain to sleep, curled up and shivering hopelessly in the dark chill of winter.
When the faithful sun came from behind the mountains in the morning, I got up and walked from behind the building where I had put up the previous night from where I could smell good things from. It was breakfast time for the stuck-up lot. That is when all these things happened to me, with disdain from the two doctors and their utterly unfunny comments about me and my severely independent life.
Just then, a student came up, as if to frighten the hell out of me. But he was a good fellow. The boy suggested to his sneering friends that I be taken to a veterinarian. That scared me a little, of course. Dogs are in no habit of telling lies.
“Benzyl benzoate!” cried one impish fellow from behind. “Let him have some fun with it.” I stood there, trying to act brave. O yes, forgot to tell you this: I had lost all by teeth also. They seemed to know this and poked fun at me. I hated from my guts the pity some of them tried to shower on me.
But I am not a fool dog for heaven’s sake. I knew they were trying to help me. So I let them have their way with me. They grabbed me and began applying the foul-smelling liquid on me. The pain it gave me was so severe I’d rather not tell you how I felt. But they left me a good meal at the end of it all. I had a good night’s sleep, yes.
When I woke up in the morning, the kind rogues were gone. I would have said Goodbye and Thank You to them had I known they were to leave early in the morning. But I remain indebted to them, earnestly, and will remember them all my remaining life as a handsome dog. Gratiasagimustibi.
By Nidup Dorji