“Jessica passed on this morning, I have cried my eyes out, but I will be fine.”
ThOse were the words Janet sent me in text earlier this month. I felt so touched and sober at the thought of losing a loved one. I was about typing a long epistle about how “..all things work together for our good” and how “…in all things we should give thanks” before it occurred to me that Jessica is Janet’s dog! A dog!
In my characteristic manner, I waived Janet and her dog palava aside. How could she use such affectionate words for a mere dog? I rationalised. Such words are supposed to be used for loved ones, I surmised. By using those words “Passed On”, she was equating her dog to my brother, my sister, my grandfather and maternal aunt whose deaths I sometimes still wet my pillow about. I’m not sure I sent her a condolence. It’s just an ordinary dog.
Janet came to my house a few days after the text, and I raised the topic of the dead dog. Not at all out of concern for her or it, but to know where and how she buried it. I imagined Janie in mourning garbs, carrying the corpse (is that what it is called) of the dog in a funeral procession along the road, with tears streaming down her eyes, and neighbours consoling her. Her eyes became teary as she began explaining to me that the dog had died of Pneumonia, and that the neighbours heard it crying all through the night, but were wicked enough not to help, though they knew she was not home. She kept on about how she got home to meet her dog stuck in the gutter in front of her house, how the rains had
beaten it all through the night, and how she’d massaged the poor thing, trying to relive it of its malady. Janie went on and on how it’s tongue went white a few hours before it died. She was still carrying on when I turned my back and I slept off.
It was a mere dog. I remember another friend’s mum almost put out an obituary on the newspapers for her dog. Irrational sentiments! That is what I tag sort of attachment to mere things. But, earlier today, I got to my apartment, smiled at the blooming potted plant on my veranda. I must have looked silly, because I looked up to see the incredulous look on the security guard’s face. “Em… aunty, no vex o, abeg follow me make I show you something” he said. And I obliged him. He led me to the courtyard just behind the house. I had spent so much money beautifying a small patch of the courtyard earlier last month. To my consternation the new tenant had scrapped off all the grass I had planted, thinking it was mere weed. All of it was gone!
I recalled the conviction in the voice and the sparkle in the eyes of the old horticulturist, who had sweet-talked me into buying and planting his special offer of “Port-Harcourt Grass” instead of “Devil’s Hair”, and how I had dashed him extra N1,000 when I saw how beautiful my garden patch turned out. At that point of considering the damage to the plant I have invested much affection on, a tear dropped from my eye. “Auntie take am easy o, na ordinary grass na!” the security man pipe, in a forlorn bid to pacify me. But I was inconsolable as I walked with heavy steps away for the scene, into my apartment.
When Janie asked me why I was teary-eyed later the same day, I simply told her I lost an object of affection.
How could I have possibly told her that it was grass, mere grass? Wouldn’t she have waived my plight off as “Irrational sentiment”?
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