Back to India for the second time within a year. We were leaving on the 27th December, but that was the year of the tsunami on the 26th, so there was still an air of shock in Chennai (Madras). We spent a week with our friends and then left for a tour of Rajasthan, flew back, had a few days in Mysore and Bangalore and then a couple more nights in Chennai. We were staying at the Madras Cricket Club and I have our temporary membership card somewhere.
Because of the time difference, it was never convenient to phone home, although I’d rung to say we’d arrived safely, so I was emailing as often as I could. This wasn’t that convenient, either – there was an IT room at the club which I could use, but in Rajasthan we decided to let our driver have his evenings free. He assured us we could call on him any time, but we didn’t think it was reasonable. There was an internet facility at most hotels, but it was slow and expensive and quite frustrating to use. So it was disappointing not ever to receive any replies from the family. I was, because of the awkwardness, writing one letter and sending it to all family members – Ro went back to university while I was away and I knew the Sage wouldn’t look at the computer, so I asked the children to give him my news, but I had nothing in response and I felt quite guilty. Bad enough to swan off for three weeks holiday immediately after Christmas without him thinking I was not getting in touch. Eventually, we decided to hang the expense and use Wink’s mobile phone. MIdnight in Madras was early evening at home (5 1/2 hours ahead, if I remember right) so he was in.
Happy greetings, and I asked how everyone was and why no one had been in touch. The Sage hesitated. *Here follows how not to give bad news.*
“I’m afraid we’ve lost Khan.”
“Oh, no, have you found him?”
“Yes, we found him.”
“Oh, thank goodness.”
“He’d had an accident.”
“Oh no, is he all right?”
An awkward silence. It occurred to me that ‘lost’ might have meant more than lost.
“Khan isn’t dead, is he?”
My poor sister who, as you will recall, loved Khan, was sitting on the other bed with a stricken face while I tried to extract the story from the Sage.
Khan and Tilly used to go off together. They’d have a run and a nose round the fields and come back together. But on this occasion, Tilly came back alone and subdued. They went out searching for Khan, but it didn’t occur to the Sage until more than an hour had passed to go out on the road. He must have gone out through the hedge, been hit by a car and killed. The driver didn’t come and tell us, although he can’t have not known and we’d have been at fault. Khan didn’t normally go on the road and the two of them were so well behaved we didn’t think we had to worry about them.
I’ve never asked the Sage for all the details, it was all too upsetting to rake over. I did, however, explain that ‘lost’ may indeed be a euphemism for ‘died’, but not with dogs. Dogs do go missing once in a while, so ‘the dog’s lost’ gives quite a different message to ‘We’ve lost Aunt Agnes,’ unless auntie is quite gaga and tends to wander.
So, poor Khan. He didn’t have much luck really. And since then, Tilly has been an only dog and I think that now it would be unfair to bring a puppy into the household, so it seems she’ll remain so.