So I suppose you want to ask me how we met, how she came into my life and I into her.
On a chilly winter evening of November, when I was eighteen years old, my father caved in to my persistent pleas to get my own dog. Brother and I drove to a dog farm in Jabalpur. The farm produced dogs of every imaginable size and shape and age and temperament.
“Now, take your time,” brother said. “Your decision today is going to be with you for many years to come.”
I quickly decided the older dogs were somebody else’s charity case. I immediately raced to the puppy cage.
“Pick one that’s not timid,” said brother. “Try rattling the cage and see which ones aren’t afraid.”
I grabbed the chain-link gate and yanked on it with a loud clang. The dozen or so puppies reeled backward, collapsing on top of one another in a squiggling heap of fur. Just one remained. It was gold with a white blaze on its chest, and it charged the gate, yapping fearlessly. It jumped up and excitedly licked my fingers through the fencing.
“It’s a bitch!” said the farm owner. It was love at first sight.
I brought her home and named her Eva. The name Eva filled the room repeating it over and over. She was one of those dogs that give dogs a good name.
She effortlessly mastered every command I taught her. I would drop a crust on the floor and she would not touch it until I gave the okay. She came when I called her and stayed when I told her to. As we open the gate, she quickly runs out joyously to play with others of her kind. We knew she would be back after making her rounds. She hated staying alone. We could not leave her alone in the house for hours, confident she shall have an accident or disturb everything. She raced cars and bikes without chasing them and walked by my side without a leash. She runs across the street and returns with rocks so big they sometimes get stuck in her jaws. I and my family would naturally throw ourselves into our new dog, showering her with attention and affection.
She loves nothing more than riding in the car and sit quietly during family trips. She loves riding on bikes spending hours gazing at the passing world. She was right there beside me at every moment. When I felt sad or depressed, she used to come and sit near me, sometimes on my lap and we spend hours sitting like that.
Eva was spirited but controlled, affectionate but calm. Relatives and friends would visit our house and return home determined to buy a dog of their own, so impressed were they with Eva — or “Evara,” as I came to call her. She came into my life and I into her — and in the process, she gave me the childhood every kid deserves though I wasn’t a kid back then.
The love affair lasted four months, and by the time she was sent to a new home, the boy who had brought her home on that chilly winter evening was again alone. I was studying in college, working hard in building up my career. Eva had stayed behind when I moved on and that deeply affected me.
Yes, it was only a dog, and dogs come and go in the course of a human life, sometimes simply because they become an inconvenience, as in my case. It was only a dog, and yet every time I try to talk about Eva to someone, tears welled in my eyes. I tell myself it is okay to cry, and that owning a dog always ends with some sort of sadness because dogs just don’t live as long as people do.
She was a perfect dog. At least that’s how I will always remember her. It was Eva who set the standard by which I would judge all other dogs to come.
“Eva, wherever you are right now, I hope you know how much I loved you all of my life and I’m sure we’ll meet again. You were always there when I needed you. Through life or death, I will always love you and will never forget you”.
What I really want to say is how this animal had touched our souls and taught us some of the most important lessons of our lives. “A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours.”
Eva taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. She taught me to appreciate the simple things. Mostly, she taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to her. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give her your heart and she will give you hers. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what doesn’t. As I write this piece for Eva, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see.
Like a drum baby don’t stop beating.