Celebrating East African Writing!
I’m a degree student at a School of the Built Environment willing to be involved in the Urban Planning and Media industry. When I graduate –hopefully- next year, I will have to get into the profession and work. I want to get a home and one for the dog. Our ends of semester examinations are usually scaring. We just came back from break after UoN had been closed due to election crisis. Preparing for exams is a hard, hard task. It requires time.
I cannot say dog, without using the name friend in the same line. Let’s just say I’m a friend of dogs, no, just one –Rex. When I got a call at my rural home in Olenguruone that Rex had suddenly died, it seems that I forgot exams were just a week away. I took the next cab home, self-driven. I took the last three thousand shillings from my HELB account, the car-hire firm filled the tank and I hit the road. It was just unbelievable!
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Rex was a wonderful dog, since I met him six years ago as a puppy it has been wonderful being with this wonderful dog. Grey in color with black spots, you could confuse him with a young strangely coloured lion for his size. Talking about confusion, all the other village dogs in Singorwet village didn’t just confuse Rex with a real lion, they fled at his sight. I had the monopoly of telling everyone that we had only one dog in the whole village, those who opposed would bring their rats, or rather, dogs for a contest. In a single day, another dog had sustained deep bruises on the back, while another was limping. Rex had taught them a lesson.
On very rare occasions did people come home without confirming at the gate whether the dog was on chain. He was a humble dog; he didn’t bite without a reason. I had wanted to keep people secure –by having him on the chain daytime. All vaccinations were up to date. I kept him on the chain for the first day, he complained the whole day even after giving him all the meals. He wanted to be free; I saw mercy on him and set him free.
Cheeky boys got into great trouble with Rex. I had no part to play here because he was an unforgetful dog ever. Because of competition, the boys always approached Rex with sticks and their dogs. He marked all the dogs and the boys so that he could deal with them individually. Those dogs who survived the ordeal never crossed the road to our side, they couldn’t risk.
When I walked with him on the road, I felt proud just like a newlywed man who has a fast vehicle and a licensed gun. It was more than humbling to see dogs at a distance fade away into the bushes at the sight of him.
Those people who have not lived near natural forests cannot try and miss the sweetness of the rural setting. You can eat meat every day without spending a cent. In this case, we ate it and Rex never missed his share. In a place where antelopes and hares are many, we enjoy life. Due to the tight programme while on recess, I take Rex to outing on weekends. On a good day we get a big antelope and a hare. On a bad one, a hare comes to the table.
It appears we drafted an unwritten Memorandum of Understanding with Rex on how he got his share. Although hare’s meat is meat, there s a way I told people at home that there was ‘nothing’ today. Nothing referred to the hare. It was nothing truly because we have extended guys nearby. The whole thing would be roasted for the dog; I took my share of course. But these were on very rare occasions. When an antelope has landed on our side, the dog would eat up to his fill. In case of a male animal, the genitals are his appetizers. Wow!
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We must have crossed with Rex only once during his lifetime, he started eating eggs. For the rural folk, eggs are the single most source of money. A remedy suggested by a friend to stop the dog was by giving it a hot boiled egg. I gave it by force. Man, didn’t the dog wail in pain? I rushed for some cold milk and gave it to him. I felt sorry for my hero, my dog. Being a Sunday, we hadn’t gone to the forest. I took a boda boda to the urban center five miles away, just to get a bone for him. I was sorry for my dog, I felt guilty having taken the bad advice from a friend. I didn’t want anything of my friend again.
Unlike many other dogs, Rex was a close friend to the cat – as long as food wasn’t in the picture. They couldn’t share a piece of meat in any conditions under the sun. Luckily he stopped eating the eggs. I was so happy. The hawks [those birds of prey that take away chicks] were kept at bay as long as Rex was in the compound. He would chase them just beyond the boundary [I don’t know who showed him our boundary with the neighbor]. I felt like telling him to look down on the barbed wire fences for him not to be hurt. Since he would be looking at the flying bird as he runs, he knocked the sharp barbed wires and only came back with wounds. He was happy to have chased the enemy.
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I arrived at out trading center early, took some bones for Rex. I didn’t want to believe it wasn’t there again. Luckily it had not rained; I drove smoothly through the earthened road. I didn’t hear any barking in the compound. Whistling louder for it to hear me didn’t help matters. I needed not to be told [again] that the only dog in the village was lifeless. As I wondered what to do, I couldn’t take in allegations that a man was seen handing to Rex a piece of meat that contained poison that killed him. Vets contacted said the dog could have been saved if it was realized earlier. My dog! Why would someone kill my hero? Why? I drove around the village [many people didn’t know I could drive] asking for anyone with information to tell me. A reward leading to the identity of the person was five thousand shillings. I betted I would chuck out the amount from next semester’s disbursement. It was worth, for my dog. I told the people that the car I had wasn’t mine –since I was still in school.
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It was so amazing being with Rex. Leaving all the stress of Nairobi madness and the class work, it was relieving being with him. How I wish he could talk? I talked to him believing he heard what I said but he just couldn’t answer. He was very happy all the time. I could imagine he had no stress in life –school, exams, taxes, HIV/AIDS and relationships. How I wish life in reality could be that simple.
When I received my KCSE results in 2006 I was with Rex. In all the jubilations [of scoring an A minus] he was there with the whole family. He posed for photos with me. God had blessed me to join a public university, he was there to celebrate. He knew to pose for photos so well. I don’t know what to do to the cute photos of Rex I have posted on Facebook. While going for far flung journeys we usually wake up at dawn so as to trek to the center to catch the earliest matatu. Rex usually escorted us to the stop. One day he came to us till the stage at the centre, I thought he had gone back. Five miles away. When we arrived in the evening, he was at home.
For the six years he lived, I have been building dreams for my dog. When I get First Class Honors, the dog would celebrate with me again. I dreamt of buying a designer made kernel so that he couldn’t feel the cold again. I had a dream that I would buy a pick-up well designed to carry a dog. That time he would get out of the countryside for the first time. I would stock a sackful of the processed dog meal. I wanted him to be having breakfast everyday –just like the dogs in the city that never knew how to hunt.
Unfortunately this was just a dream, Rex has gone away. I don’t know what I can do to the person who gave poison to my dog. I can shoot him if I want. We spent more time with Rex than we did with girls. Girls don’t like going to the forest, Rex knew the benefits. We raced with him downhill, played hide-and-seek. If wishes were horses, I would wish to see Rex in the afterlife.
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I got back to Nairobi safely but feeling so empty. This is life where we should feel good being with our loved ones. We can do only that which is possible for our affection. It is good to be with one another. Those people dear to us are precious, too precious. Life is wonderful, with little or big things. My friends, you will see me today and again you will not see me for good. Rex has taught me many lessons –in six years flat. I cannot pretend that I will get a duplicate of Rex –it’s pointless. I will not try because he’s gone for good. I had many plans for Rex; he just went away at a critical time. I will cram for these exams, for this is the way of life.
© Kipruto Thomas 2010 www.kipruto87.blogspot.com
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