Life without Cali [en]

Today is the night where patriotism is spellt with loud bangs and fire in the sky. I personally am not that enthusiastic about either the patriotism or the loud bangs, but I have to admit I appreciate the expensive fireworks which light up the sky.

I’ve just come home from my brother’s flat, whose balcony offers a splendid view of the neighbouring towns’ taxpayers’ money disappearing into a puff of smoke – though only after having offered a coloured show, and quite pleasing to the eye, too.

The reason this is notable enough to deserve mention in these pages is that today was my first day in Lausanne without Cali — and that during the last couple of months, I have walked back and forth numerous times with her between my brother’s flat and mine. It is so strange to be without her.

It’s strange to be home without her following me around or lurking in a corner. It’s strange to leave home “without the dog”, and not have to close the door to my bedroom (she’d take possession of my bed if I didn’t). It’s strange to arrive home without her greeting me. Bagha comes to greet me, of course, but we all know dogs are much more demonstrative than cats for this kind of thing. Cali, trying to make me believe I had been away for ever, would wag her tail with so much enthusiasm that her whole behind would sway to and fro, to the point where she would forget how to stay standing on my slippery wooden floor and end up on her belly, in my feet.

What makes her absence difficult is the way it impacts my life. It’s the same with any separation, by the way. All the places I would go to with her, all the things I used to do with her present, all our interactions, have all been chopped out of my life.

A dog, especially if well-trained and with a sweet character like Cali, becomes an extension of oneself. Cali knew my walks as well as I did; I could guide her with a word, a whistle or a sign of my hand. Everywhere I went, one of my eyes would be following her, and I would be giving out these little signals to her permanently. When I walk alone, it is no longer necessary. I don’t have to stop anymore before crossing roads to make her sit. No need to look out for nice green lawns she isn’t allowed on. No need to keep an eye open for the “dogs forbidden” signs.

These feelings will go away in a few weeks. I’ll get used to driving alone. I’ll get used to living with just Bagha. Of course, I’ll miss our walks around the university. I’ll miss encouraging her up the stairs, when she was tired or seemed to think it was a long way up (stairs aren’t easy when you have only one hind leg).

I’ll find a way to go to Birmingham in October. I will.

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