I woke up startled at 2:00 am with a parched throat and a head ringing like church bells. It was just another Friday night in Hyderabad, except for the loud squeal that had just woken me up.
Groggy, I stepped out of my bedroom, leaving the lights off and D sleeping. I walked into AP’s room and found him and N busy playing a Monopoly. N was bent over the board, displaying her substantial assets. Awake so soon?
It took me a few seconds to recover from the daze.
Yeah, I thought I heard a dog yelp.
I heard it too. Maybe a dog got run over or something.
Where’s Ben, I asked, concerned, though I still maintain that the dog was trouble on four legs.
He was right here! AP called out loudly: Ben!
His voice was drowned out by the sound of thunder, and a sudden gust of wind slammed the balcony door shut. I hadn’t even noticed that it was raining, or that the door had been open all day. And then, I heard a soft, mellow squeak.
We ran to the balcony, looked down, and there he was, two floors below, lying on the cold, hard ground at the bottom of our building.
Oh Ben! AP screamed and nearly jumped off the balcony. We ran down, and his tail started wagging even as blood oozed out of his mouth. He tried to get up but couldn’t.
All three of us had tears in our eyes. God, Ben! What were you doing out in the balcony this late? How did you even manage to get past the railing?
We woke D up and made frantic calls to all the vets in the nearby area, but it was really late in the night, and nothing could be done. One doctor was kind enough to agree to seeing us, but when we reached, he said that since Ben couldn’t stand up, the fall had likely broken his spine, and he may have to be put down, but we can’t be sure until we x-ray him.
He gave Ben some painkillers, and sent us packing, asking us to return in the morning for an x-ray.
We spent the night cursing ourselves (yet blaming each other) for not checking whether the balcony door was latched.
Ben lay on AP’s chest all night, barely moving except to lick off the tears that were streaming down his face. Dogs can sense your grief, the doctor had warned us. Don’t look too upset, or he will know something’s wrong.
I was mad at AP for so shamelessly grieving, but couldn’t blame him. I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning, too, thinking of all the times that I had jokingly said that this dog was probably a minion on loan from an evil witch.
In the morning, the x-ray revealed that the spine was okay, but two of Ben’s legs (the ones in front) had been badly bruised. Since he was young (no more than a couple months), the bones were still soft, and therefore, didn’t break.
Ben spent a month in a small cage with his legs bandaged because like I said, he was trouble on four legs and would not sit down in one place for too long.
When he got better, we celebrated by giving him some rum and coke to drink. He had grown fond of that particular concoction. He drank his share, then passed out flat on the mattress in the living room, as the rest of us proceeded to create an excel file with who spent how much this month on Ben.
There I was, sitting in front of the excel file that nearly messed up my finances for the next two months, wondering if getting a dog was worth the trouble.
It totally was.
Until he jumped (the kids downstairs witnessed it) from the balcony again and broke the same legs. Then I wanted to kill him.