A very moving tribute from a friend who had also experienced the same sense of loss 12 years back with another companion.
October 13, 2015
Dear friends (and not-so-friends!) of Scrabble,
This is to let you know that Scrabble has crossed over to the other side and another journey. It happened this morning after a 3 day bout of short, shallow breathing, a slow withdrawal, and what seemed like a quiet shutdown. He stopped eating for the last 24 hours. He was very present and peaceful all the while – coming on walks at his own pace till the end, climbing stairs to the terrace to be with me while I made phone calls even an hour before he left, wanting to be very close and have people around. The end came swiftly when he collapsed at my feet in the car just as we set off for town to see the vet (we had not even crossed the farm gate), and I held and stroked him till his heart eventually stopped beating. Four days ago, he was running around and was his usual self, even trotting up the wooden ladder to the attic to hunt for rats, despite what was a long standing lung and probably heart condition. So I am grateful that finally this was the way it happened. He would have been 12 in December.
Scrabble’s life was defined and driven by self-generated high octane drama; loud and obstinate arguments, opinions, complaints and demands; a one-neuron unpredictability and ferocity; endless antics; vivid conversations; and a total involvement and interest in everyone and everything (including his food) with his inimitable way of expressing himself.
So it seems surreal to have been with this other side of him the last few days – the gentle grace with which he accepted what was happening and how his instinct and intuition helped him handle his own inevitable mortality even as he grew feebler. The only thing he seemed to want was to be with us (Chandri my farm help, the two interns Whitney and Aliesje with whom he developed an extraordinary bond over the last two weeks, and me) and he got plenty of that.
Over the years Scrabble gave us generous doses of companionship, comfort, an unflinching devotion and love, laughter, tears, tension and some frustration all of which scrabbled together in a special brew that was life giving and life saving. Many of you have your own Scrabble stories I am sure, especially those who cared for him and Chitty the last couple of years. Chandri says no one locally should know what happened so potential intruders stay away. So Scrabble the Phantom will now roam Huthina Betta! I am curious to see how long this ruse will last and how effectively. It is true that he protected the place zealously and was a big reason why I have been able to live here on my own this long.
It’s hard to believe he’s gone – death brings with it such a sensorial finality that I have been unable to transcend yet. Scrabble now lies between two Jackfruit trees beside the path up and down which he would charge, chasing monkeys with Chitty.
Of course, there had to be a Scrabblesque element at the end too. The last few days have been fraught, trying to get help for Scrabble’s condition and simultaneously keep a camp I am in charge of for 15 persons going (thankfully the presence of friends Lalitha and Suma, along with the interns helped tremendously). I was at my wits end wondering how I would lead a 4 day field trip starting today, leaving him in this condition. I felt torn and miserable since all I wanted was to attend to him and stay close. He slipped away at 9 am, was at his final resting place a little after, I then spent a few hours on my own collecting myself together in the best manner possible, and then rejoined the group. There is some comfort knowing he does not need me anymore and is finally at ease.
Heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of you who have been part of Scrabble’s life and times at Huthina Betta. I will probably write some of you individual notes, but Sajan, I must mention you here. It was magical how the Dhrupad music you sent of the Gundecha brothers recently, calmed him down when he reacted to the noise of fire crackers that he had a big issue with. I have never seen anything like this before.
So, Scrabbly my dearest rascal, good bye for now and be on your way. You were impossible at times, but it was also impossible not to be joined with you at the paw. The ache is raw and deep, and I see you everywhere. But I know that this will morph into something more sublime and celebratory in time to come. Madhulika, hes all yours now, wherever the two of you are.
With warm wishes to you all and please don’t stop visiting Huthina Betta just because our most colourful character is not around anymore!