“I promise I will be back home as soon as I can”, and with that I moved his body to the side.
I knew he wouldn’t respond. He looks like he was sleeping, by my side, hugging my arm, like he used to do since I brought him inside at the end of his long, lost, stranded days, alone in this hillside.
It’s Chinese New Year; but I promised my friend I will look up her ticket for her, so I went out of bed early (I haven’t been sleeping for days anyway since he is sick), get dressed, shut myself down, wore my best mask, and move on.
The travel agent is in a large, upscale mall adjacent to an amusement park. It’s a long weekend so I’d better be hurry before I got stuck in traffic and spend hours agonizing over wasting hours and hours while I should be home, tending to him.
I went out of the house, go to the mall, get all the information, and as I walked out, a lion dance had started.
I used to stay for a while, because part of the martial art I am learning is playing the Lion dance, and there is no literal way of doing it but to watch the expert, learned the move and experience the fun; but not that day. I promised I will be back home as soon as I can, and I always keep my promise, whatever the cost.
But the mob. The mob of merry making people who got their attention caught in the show. The mobs of people from surrounding villages who went to the amusement park and found something else they probably never see before; the mob of screaming kids, pushing parents, toe stepping mothers, and of course, the onlooking opportunist. With so much people around there is usually some wallet or two unguarded.
I ran away from the crowd as soon as I can, before even the tail got me caught in the middle. All doors were blocked, so I went up, and to the next floor, and to the next floor; and bumped one of the few managers who went on duty during holiday.
He is a stranger to me, but I told him I am claustrophobic (I am not) and I don’t want to get caught in the mob, and if there is a fire exit somewhere that can lead me away from the mall without having to grate myself through the incoming madness.
He looked at me sympathetically, hold his HT, ask his friend to cover for him a little bit and lead me through the employee’s door and show me a way out.
I thanked him and blasted away.
I dropped off at the supermarket where I worked. It’s not my shift yet, but I went in to buy a towel. A cute one in bright green with happy looking toads embroidered on it. It’s on sale starting today (I worked there, of course I know when the discount will be) and I promised my baby I will buy it for him as soon as it goes on sale because I think the image suits him a lot, and his towel got peed on by other cats and the smell sticks, so he doesn’t like it anymore.
I knew he won’t have it with him wherever he is now, and that the towel is most obviously wasted, but I promised him and I keep my promise.
It was late in the afternoon when I finally reach home. I popped minced beef and ground chicken into the cooker, add eggs and milk, and sprinkle vegetables and oat, press the button, and rushed back into my room with the new towel.
There he slept, exactly as I left him this morning. There was bits of me who lingers to a hope to see he had changed position, or at least open his eyes, but of course, it won’t happen.
Miracle only happened once, and that happened when I found him struggling to stand up one morning last week, after he vomited a crazy amount of worms for days and days before. He was too young and his weight is way less for Drontal, but there is no end to these worms and he suffered for it. He lost his weight so fast he was hypothermic at times, and no matter how much he ate, it won’t matter.
I took my chances and gave him a dust of all wormer. He vomited once after that, but it was all worms and they were mangled or half digested instead of whole and fat and wriggly, so I was less worry and more sure he is going to make it.
The next morning was when I wake up in the morning and saw him struggle to stand up. I went back in and gave him aminofluid, I gave him booster injection, and prepare for the worse.
The miracle was, he stand on his own on my bed, six hours later, and continue to get better. He couldn’t eat solid food because his intestine must be sore because of all the worms, he had diarrhea, he had bad day, but he was alive and fighting.
Still at one point, he stopped catching up, and was slowly sliding down.
At the breaking dawn of the first day of the year of the dog, he passed away in his sleep.
But I promised my friend I’d check her ticket for her, and so I woke up, put on my mask, bracing the day,
And at long last, here I am.
I took the towel out of its bag and cut the tags off. I wrapped his cold and stiff corpse and took him in my arms.
“Sorry I kept you waiting”
He didn’t answer; miracle only happened once.
I wished that my last gift for him is life; but it turned out to be a mere second chance, and a bright green towel with happy looking frog that reminds me of him and his adorable face.
I put him in my bag and walked with him uphill to the crematorium. They are not open on holiday, but I know where the warden lived, and he knows I never kept my charges waiting. He knows I never let the passing turn cold, he knows I will never let the rot and decay get ahead before their well deserved respect in death, especially since such respect were robbed off them in life.
“Do you know someone who can help me bury him? It will be very late when you are back in business next Monday” I told him.
He told me about this man in his middle age who has no one and who is homeless. He made his living from the money people give him for cleaning their ancestor’s grave.
I went to see the man he described and ask him if there is an empty plot, safe to bury my boy.
He showed me a little place under the tree, just a few ten steps downhill.
It is overlooking a small ravine, and when I look to the horizon, I saw my house and its twinkling lights.
And so he slept there, wrapped around in a bright green towel soft, dry and new, with happy looking frog embroidered on it, so unlike me, he won’t have to miss hugging my arm in his sleep.