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Last week I went to our old house for one last look before we finally handed it over to the owners. The ‘Beware of Dog’ board on the gate stared back mockingly at me. There was no dog to ‘beware of’, or as would have happened in my case, to come running and bark her head off in welcome.

As I walked in I remembered the first time I came to the house with the said dog in tow. The L&M had dropped Luci and me, the advance party as it were, at the new house and gone off to ‘pilot’ the movers’ van with all of our stuff. I spent my time going from room to room, planning where things should go and Luci followed me excitedly, wagging her tail non-stop.

Immersed as I was in my thoughts I didn’t notice her slip away. Some minutes later, walking out of one room to the next I found a wet spot. What the heck! That hadn’t been there when I went in! Surely it wasn’t what it looked like, dog pee! Luci was a good as gold toilet trained dog! But then since there were only the two of us inside the house, and it obviously hadn’t been me who did the ‘business’ on the landing floor, it had to be Luci. Madam walked in just then with a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth look. On top of that she smiled at me, brazenly if you please, without any shred of guilt marring her angelic Labradorean face

Mops and buckets and cleaning solutions were all on the way. So I went looking for something to solve the situation temporarily. As I walked downstairs and into the hall, my eyes bulged. There, on one corner of the pretty green carpet was laid out something that looked suspiciously like…. OMG no! Not on the carpet! But of course it was what I thought it was, one piece of dry poo, lovingly laid out for mom.

Luci was eight months old at the time. I looked at her crossly. Why didn’t you tell me you had to go out? She looked back at me proudly, triumphantly almost. As far as she was concerned, she had marked her territory and put her stamp of approval on the new place mom seemed so excited about. No, you weren’t supposed to do this! She didn’t take kindly to my mock anger (inside me I was bubbling with laughter and waiting to recount the tale to her dad on his return) vociferously disagreed, back-talking in loud tones. Later, I concluded to the L&M that Luci probably thought the green carpet was grass. I mean, any dog could make the mistake, what?

Memories! The old house is full of ten years worth of them, ten lovely years spent with Luci. I was there to relive them one last time.

The same house now looked all forlorn and neglected. The plants hadn’t been watered and it hadn’t rained too in the past weeks. The tall green ornamental bush we planted was now a russet shade. The thorny euphorbias were standing their ground. They knew to live on little or no water for long periods. A lone tulsi, the Indian basil, was bravely holding on, as were a couple of other plants with thick glossy leaves. Surprisingly enough, the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) behind the house (no picture) had a fresh head of luscious leaves. Summer seemed to be agreeing with it.

Inside the house, I walked up the stairs one last time. How many times had Luci bounded up and down the same stairs with me! She always raced ahead, except for the last year when she followed me at a more sedate pace. Zombie, I used to tease her for the way she climbed one step at a time, dragging herself up. Once there, and in case I had to go downstairs, she would wait at the top of the stairs only coming down after making sure it was a long haul.

After wandering around for a while in the now almost empty house (fully empty of our things) reviving all the bits of lovely memories (and the last sad one), I said my final goodbyes to the place. It is no longer our home now. But surprisingly, or may be not so, I still refer to it as our home (“You know, back at our home…”) in conversations with others. I wonder when I will stop doing that. There’s a fridge magnet that was gifted to me by my sis which says, ‘A house is not a home without a Labrador.’ Maybe that house was more of a ‘home’ because of Luci the Labrador. Here Luci lives too… in spirit.

© Shail Mohan 2022

It’s February and this is the first of this month’s ramblings.