My grandmother, my son, and a dog called Satan
My grandmother is 95 and can’t hear much. When she does hear she doesn’t listen. She keeps trying to feed us random biscuits and I keep saying no. This has been going on for years.
My son is one-and-a-half and can’t talk much. He keeps trying to feed the dog grass and I’m explaining that dogs don’t eat grass, but he keeps trying. Then he tries flowers.
Inexplicably, the dog eats the grass.
It’s a good crowd — the deaf, the dumb and the dumber.
It’s sunny out. It’s quiet here, where I was a child, where my sister was a baby. The garden is less verdant and malarial than it was. The garbage-burning pit isn’t there. My grandfather isn’t here, working at his desk. Countless dogs have come and gone, buried next door.
When this version of dog followed my grandmother home, everybody called her Satan. There was a huge debate about keeping the dog at all which my grandmother won with a mix of stubborness and convenient inability to hear.
Satan was ugly and has one tooth sticking out, which makes her look bitey. All the children avoided her. All the adults avoided her, including me. My son for some reason wanted to play with the dog, to discover that she actually has a delightful personality. She’s a good dog. We call her Kalu now, which just means black. Better than Satan I guess.
Ratna brings some sweet tea. I pet Kalu. The cat is also called Kalu. There’s no naming conflict because the dog chases the cat away.
My son is fascinated by the dog but he’s a poor petter. The dog is mostly confused and looks up at me. My grandmother tries to feed us some biscuits and I don’t understand why she keeps asking. She doesn’t understand that people couldn’t be hungry.
She keeps telling me the same stories, about when I was young. How I pulled her ears, how they let us take the bus for free in Vancouver, because I was young and she was old. She’s been telling me the same stories for five years now. They’re still good.
It’s strange. These memories are sweet but in the moment I get bored. I want to be on the phone, to watch something, to talk. But as I sit here tonight, trying to think of something that isn’t bad news, these moments are all I have. The mundane moments, of no import, with no lesson, just people that love each other in the same place at the same time. Nothing said, nothing done. Just there.
I don’t finish my tea, it’s too sweet. I set my son on the counter and wash his hands. I think I remember my dad washing my bloody feet in this sink, when an earlier dog bit me. Is that a memory or a story? I don’t know. Is this a memory or a story? What will it be to my son?
What will he remember? What will I remember when I’m old? I’m somewhere between one and ninety-five. I’m more aware of the world than ever before, more connected to it, more capable, more worried as well.
My God, I’m an adult.
I put the kid in the car seat as my grandmother kisses his hands. She stands at the top of the road and waves good-bye, as she has my whole life. It feels like the same place, but the Earth has moved, the stars have moved, spacetime is different. My grandmother is on the way out, my son is on the way in, and I’m just here.
I don’t know. I left early, but in hindsight, it was a nice day.