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When the sunlight penetrated my skin, I woke up. Once again under the same old tree, with the same old hollow life. No one to live with, no one to care for. It was just me and my dog, Solu. Solu was the only companion in my life. I didn’t know why he chose to live with me. Neither did I feed him nor wash him but still, he acted like a shadow, well, even better than a shadow, never leaving me, not even in the darkness.
I did not buy him; neither was he given to me as a gift. One evening, when I was done collecting bottles from the garbage, I saw him staring at me, with a hint of hope in his eyes. I felt like he was asking me for food because he was hungry. I could tell because I too had been hungry for most of the time and I knew how it felt to be hungry. I had found a piece of bread earlier that evening, maybe abandoned by a rich kid who had everything he desired for. I shared it with him. What he saw in me was still mysterious, but he never left my side since the day I named him “Solu”. I named him that because that was the first name that popped into my mind while trying to call him.
Today, Solu acted in a strange way. He used to wake up earlier than me and lick me all over my face until I woke up. It was like a routine. We used to go to the river bank. I used to wash my face and he used to dip his mouth and drink polluted water. I used to splash water on him. He, the lazy dog who hated water, used to bark angrily at me. He loved being angry at me, because if any day I did not throw water at him, he used to whine softly and stretch his hands towards me, asking me to throw some water at him. We used to go back to our bed, a cold ground under a big peepal tree. I would pick up my rug and then, we would make our way in search of some valuable things that came in the name of garbage. I used to sell them in the evenings to buy some food for me. Solu would find something on the way. He never demanded food and I never gave him my share, because he knew my struggles.
It was already half an hour since I woke up, but he continued sleeping peacefully. His body expanded and relaxed continuously as he breathed. I saw him sleeping for the first time. How peaceful and relaxed he looked. I did not dare to wake him up. I rested my head beside him and started spreading my hand on the thick, soft, brown fur of his. For the first time, I felt lucky to have him. Complaining every day about living a life of a beggar, I was satisfied for the first time looking at him, for having a companion who never left me, even if I wanted him to.
I had been cruel to him. I never gave him a slice of bread, nor did I wash him. I did not even play with his fur, but without any complaints, he walked every step with me. He never asked me for any food nor he never asked me to play with him. He was happy with me, throwing water at him. He never asked for more. I felt guilty for not appreciating what I had and longing for something I may never have. I felt guilty because of his loyalty towards me. He meant nothing to me, but for him I was everything. I felt sorry for not loving the only creature that loved me.
I thought he was not in a mood to wake up, but suddenly, I felt like he was not okay. I tried to wake him up but he did not move an inch. I then slowly tried to move his stiff body, and when I did so, I found his belly covered with his own blood. He whined as if he did not want me to see him in pain. I could see a little drop of tears in the corner of his eyes. He was wounded while trying to save me from bullies, when I was asleep, without my knowledge. He was bleeding since then, but my selfish eyes did not notice. He was in pain till now, but he never gave me a hint because he did not want to disturb my dreams. I was sitting there, with my body stiff, right next to my Solu. I was not able to do anything when he slowly took his last breath, resting his head on my thigh.