Let me get back to my dog tales. You see, every time we lost a pet dog to death, we'd make an unspoken vow that we would save ourselves from further heartache by simply not adopting another. Major's traumatic death hammered this in ever more clearly. My mother, particularly, couldn't even bear the thought of having another dog after she lost him. Her silence and sorrow boomed throughout the house, a warning that the three-letter word should no longer be discussed.
September 1999 turned into October 1999. Just one month had passed since we lost Major. And we continued to miss him...our hearts as gloomy as the monsoon sky outside. But, October was soon drawing to a close. Cloudy skies began to give way to the glint of the smiling sun. The transition was metaphorical because it was about to happen in our home too.
|RAY OF SUNSHINE: Cara, at three months|
Later that evening, mom confessed to us that she wasn't excited to have Cara. She had accepted her out of compassion - and also because she looked adorable, swathed with soft cloths in a cane basket, red ribbon round her neck. Cara, she told us, was the runt of a litter of 13 Dalmatian puppies. Since her mother began rejecting her and no one was willing to buy her, the owner thought it best to hand over the fragile life to us. "Amusing," I thought, because till then, Major was the only dog we had bought...the rest had been given to us gratis.
As a three-weeks-old pup, Cara didn't look one bit like the Dalmatians I'd seen in Smith's novel. Yes, she was cute...pink nose, sealed ears and all,...but fully white with light liver coloured patches instead of spots. To my sister and I, she seemed like an exquisite breed that we knew nothing about. So, we took to Volume D of our World Book Encyclopedia to educate ourselves. Later, in the dictionary, we came across a glossary of names. I chose Cara, because I liked the way it sounded (apparently it means 'friend'). My sister chose Candita, which means white/pure. As we couldn't come to a consensus, we named our cherubic pup:
CARA CANDITA FERNANDES.
Incidentally, Cara was unknowingly bestowed the honour of being the first dog to take on our family surname.