This happened in the summer of 2007, when all I wanted to do was lie under the mango tree in the backyard of my house, and make patterns in my head by tracing out the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds, visible through the small peep-holes made by the leaves of the mango tree. It was still a fortnight and a rain shower before the first batch of mangos would be magically transformed from raw green to the color of the sun whose rays they bathed in day after day.
It wasn’t a particularly hot or dry summer. I spent many an evening sprawling under the voluminous mango tree, listening to the evening cries of birds that nested in my backyard, watching the leaves dance in the occasional breeze, toying with infinite thoughts about our universe. On one such daily dates with nature, when the birds hadn’t yet started chirping, the silence of the evening was broken by my pet dog howling in the distance. His pitch would rise and fall, but his head remained turned upward towards the sky. You probably know the myths that associate dogs crying with spirits floating in the sky. Not that I believed any of them.
I drifted back to reality and yelled out his name, wondering what he saw up there that I couldn’t see. I barely had time to consider, for he was right beside me, violently digging up the ground. Now, if you have been around dogs, you’d know they do that kind of a thing; they dig, sometimes for no apparent reason. I decided to ignore the digging as I watched the sun slowly wrap up for the day, a sight that has never ceased to capture me.
What happened next is why I remember those days so vividly. It turned out that my dog had been digging so conscientiously in that particular spot for a reason, a treasure of sorts. I remember observing him under the last traces of daylight, digging relentlessly. He suddenly stopped and ran out of the backyard, leaving me alone in the looming dark, with a pit as deep as an arm, and something shiny inside it. Somewhere near the main entrance of the house, he began howling again, as though reporting the completion of his task. He was joined by several others, all crying at variable pitches, while a shiver passed through me as I looked upon the shine in the dark and thought about all their faces fixed towards the dark sky.
The shiny object buried and recovered from the earth in my backyard, was a piece of paper. I can’t say how it got there or how my dog found it, but there it sat, waiting to be read. It’s lines are etched in my head, and I still shudder to think of the interpretations.
“In passing by this land I lie
Upon the dark earth about me
The flesh, the blood.”