BANGALORE: Lying on the grass, aiming her conversation at the clouds, she continued, ‘I love this, I am so glad we did this, Sid.’
And then the most beautiful thing happened. From behind the trees came bounding the most gorgeous golden retriever I had ever laid eyes on. He was pure gold, with a long, flowing coat, and full of the unmistakable energy of a dog that is happy and having a great day. In his mouth was a bright red rubber duck.
‘My God!’ Nat exclaimed, standing up.
The dog heard her, ran up to Nat and dropped the duck at her feet. He backed up two steps and started wagging his tail vigorously, obviously asking her to play with him.
‘You want me to play? You do? What’s your name? Such a handsome fellow you are! Come here, come here,’ Nat kept talking to him in a soft, happy voice.
The dog crouched on his front legs, indicating he wanted to play, and started yelping.
‘You want to play, you want to play,’ she kept saying to him as she picked his duck up and threw it for him to fetch.
The dog scampered off, picked up the toy and brought it back to her.
‘He’s gorgeous, Sid, look at him, he’s s-o beautiful.’ ‘He is,’ I agreed, and picked up my camera to take pictures of him, and equally, of Nat with him. I had never seen so much joy on her face before.
She threw his duck again, and as he dashed away, she ran after him. When she caught up with him, he rolled over on his belly and she obliged by kneeling down next to him and rubbing him all over. The dog was deliriously happy.
‘C’mon Sid, come here, how can you not play with him?’ she called, laughing helplessly as the dog turned over, looked straight into her eyes and began licking her chin.
She gave him a big hug and lay down with him on the grass. Nat was so happy and had made this instant connection with the dog. Their happiness was infectious.
‘C-H-A-R-L-I-E! Charlie! Get off her!’ A teenager came running towards us and went straight to Charlie.
‘I am so sorry,’ the girl began apologizing. ‘Please!’ Nat stayed her. ‘It’s no problem at all, we love him. He is gorgeous!’ (Did she say we?) Charlie picked up the duck and ran away and Nat and the girl went after him, walking away from me. I picked up both our bags and followed them. Nat turned to make sure I was coming, our eyes met momentarily and she smiled, and then she continued chatting with the girl. Her trousers were streaked with mud, her shirt full of paw prints and she looked happier than I had ever seen her. (I wish I could show you the pictures of her and Charlie together.)
At a crossroad ahead the girl turned, waved goodbye to Nat and walked away, Charlie following on her heels. I quickened my step and caught up with Nat, who linked her arm through my free arm.
‘Did you see him? He was such a beautiful boy! I wish
I had a dog.’ I nodded, smiling.
‘She’s his walker; they come here every morning. He’s such a happy fellow,’ she said. ‘I wish they’d stayed longer,’ she added wistfully.
‘I know. He looked like a lot of fun.’
‘And did you see, at one point when I was talking to him he looked straight into my eyes . . . it was like he understood what I was saying. I am so glad we came here.
Thank you!’ She wrapped her arms around me in a hug and I hugged her back.