A Dead Dog Told Me I Was Human

Stray animal deaths on highways aren’t unusual at all. Quite a few are pushed to the other side of life by speeding wheels routinely and none can really be blamed except the fate of them. Several road trips have revealed many such grim sights to me but the one I saw at 7:53 a.m. on 12th August while cruising on NH344, made me strangely melancholic momentarily.

There lay this lifeless victim sprawled on the road and though I could so much as only have a passing glimpse of it through my speeding car, my very first thought was how would his puppies know that one of their parents is not returning home. Wouldn’t they go looking out for him after waiting out patiently, would they feel panic, fear or anxiety after a certain time as we do? My heart felt a twinge of ache. Animal babies do look for their parents desperately when lost. So often, I’ve see kittens meowing and picking up scent traces of their mother, to find it. There is an unmistakable angst and fright in their calls. But unlike humans, who somehow get the bad news and its cause, there is nobody to go and inform the slain animal’s family or group of its demise.

Imagine if we had no communities, no social networks, no health or law and order set-up, our plight would very much be the same as of these animals. You expect the door knob to turn or the door bell to ring at 5 p.m., but it doesn’t. You are patient till 5.30, at 6 you pace around, beyond that your heart begins to thud and every minute that you simply stare at the shut door, your heart sinks. You keep waiting endlessly not knowing where your loved one disappeared. You only play with assumptions. It’s stifling, emotionally strangulating to put yourself in that situation. So I wonder about the predicament of those unaware animals who are clueless about the departure of one of their group mates or parents. How do you cope up with the trauma of a missing beloved? At least the knowledge and certainty of their never returning back makes it saner for us to deal with the loss.

 I console myself believing that probably animals don’t experience such complex emotions as humans. But I am not sure if this consolation is real because animals do feel pain and anguish. I had a pet German shepherd who was extremely attached to my brother. So when my brother went away to London for his studies, we often saw Lucky crouched in a corner alone and his eyes welled with tears at times.

Probably that’s how it’s meant to be, to feel a stab and then to come to terms with it. It absolutely staggers me how our minds are naturally equipped to deal with losses. Our lives are entwined so strongly with certain people that it’s unimaginable to be without them. But one unfortunate day we lose them. Our world falls apart, life as we knew it looks shattered, the grief is insurmountable and the heart aches and sobs. Hours pass, days pass, weeks pass and then months. We slowly begin to pick up shreds of our lives, rebuild new routines and form new habits. Memories become less vivid, conversations become less fluid and time traverses on as it heals us on the way. As a friend once wisely said, every new day makes you miss your beloved lesser till you reach the zero level. Sounds true enough. Probably you stop missing the person but you never stop remembering them, they may cease to be part of your active mindset but they don’t move to the oblivion mindscape either.

It is simply amazing that we are designed to move ahead in life, that we are meant to fade old memories to replace them with new ones, that the heart-ache knows to subside itself in time. If not, life would be tormenting. However, as I trace the journey of my own thoughts from the sad sight of the dead dog to this moment of typing in words, I find it baffling that humans are susceptible to this mind-blowing range of emotions. Like one moment its elation, your heart singing and absolutely positive ions emanating from you, and shortly after there might be a wave of nostalgia gripping you, bleakness engulfing you and negativity radiating through you.  You are caught up in this phenomenal emotional pendulum. Yep, there is a definite path of moderation where people sway neither way in heightened joy or sadness. The achievable state of equilibrium.

But honestly, in that balance, where you might save yourself from the uninvited gloom and anxiety, you might also lose the heartening euphoria you feel at seeing certain people, being with certain people and doing certain things. And I am not sure if I am ready to give up the earthly exhilaration for higher moderation. I like the imperfect, imbalanced being that I am. Gives me a certain human character. And Being human is a beautiful goal.