The vet tries to breathe fear into me; he uses phrases which a small-brained bear like me struggle to understand. He says, “Ear haematoma.” The little voice in my head says that he is talking about the swelling in Anu Boo’s ears.
Father has given a name to the inflammation too. Bajji. That’s my father for you. His levity is endearing and infamous.
“It’s not fatal,” the vet breaks my reverie. Of course, it’s not. The lump has to be broken, the incision has to be sutured, and Anu Boo has to wear an Elizabethan Collar until the wound heals. I know the drill because I put Calvin through the same irksome procedure. “But wait! Maybe, we can give Anu Boo some more time since she is a mongrel. Let me give her a couple of shots and put her on some pills and syrup and ear drops. Maybe, she will recover without surgical intervention because mongrels can fight.” The vet is unlike other doctors who are fond of scalpels. I like him.
Anu Boo and I return home after an eventful auto ride when boys laughed at Anu Boo and women squealed. Anu Boo runs into the house, her collar collides with the door, and she feels disoriented. She will take a while to understand that her space is expanded now. Mother sighs. She knows the drill too. The Elizabethan Collar is going to make everything difficult for Anu Boo. Imagine carrying a cone around your head for 10 days. AK wonders how Queen Elizabeth wore it. That man can really make me laugh.
Mother and I masticate a couple of bland dosai while Anu Boo sits at our heels and drools. She loves everything that she shouldn’t eat. Mother pushes another piece of dosai into her mouth when the question strikes her. “She looks like a speaker, doesn’t she?” Mother is usually sombre; it’s unlike her to crack a joke. I want to hug that moment. “You mean a bullhorn, ma?” She is not sure what that is, but she is certain that Anu Boo reminds her of a speaker. “But ma, she looks like a table lamp. That’s how dogs look when they wear E-collars.” She shakes her head, not convinced.
Anu Boo looks at me and then at Mother. She doesn’t want us to debate but just drop a piece of dosai down for her. Mother, with her gaze fixed on Anu Boo, starts laughing.
Her laughter is a precious sound from my childhood. The kind of laughter that rises from her stomach, collects the contents of her heart, escapes her mouth, and fills the November air. The kind of laughter that didn’t ring for several years.
When that laughter falls on the dining table and splashes on our faces, it gives Mother a respite from Clinical Depression and Arthritis and Diabetes, it tends to my painful memories, removes anxieties about my future, and it bridges the gulf between us. The laughter then becomes a smile, an empty yet content silence envelops us. We heave a sigh of relief. Like dogs.
Where there was her laughter, there are tears now. Shy, happy tears.
The collar conundrum, quite like ‘the dress’ quandary, is hard to solve.
For once, I love an unresolved dispute.
(I intended to publish this post in my other blog The Zennish Panda, where I capture non-bookish thoughts. But I thought of using this post as a
bait prelude to introduce that blog. I write teeny-weeny posts there and be my best melodramatic self. 😉 If you are okay about that, we shall meet there too. Thank you!)