He would have been more dumbfounded, had he known that she made the decision because of half of a kennel.
He finally acceded to her request after three years. Yet, she cowered.
She once firmly believed that she would never fall for a married man like him. Yet, firmly, too, she once believed that should she ever fall for a man, she would have loved him, bravely and unapologetically.
Her disposition was probably formed since young. She had always perceived herself to be a free and independent woman, and was strongly convinced by the notion that happiness was never for someone else to give. This conviction was probably why she never kept pets. She did have a liking for dogs. However, as she had later on realised the vast and inherent difference between the lifespans of humans and dogs, something dawned on her: wasting your emotions on something that could so easily pass on was simply worthless. She loved dogs as a child. Whenever she had passed by the pet shop with her Daddy, she was never able to take her eyes off those puppies. Just a few weeks before her birthday that year, her Daddy told her, “I’m going to give you the most, most special birthday present this year.” And that gift was the pure white chihuahua she had been eyeing for the longest time.
“I will also build a beautiful kennel for the chihuahua,” her Daddy said.
Although she had no clue how the beautiful kennel would have looked, she was still so thrilled that on some nights, she would dream of the different shapes and constructions of the kennel. However, Daddy was not much of a carpenter. He took ages to build the kennel, and amidst the numerous heated arguments with Mommy, the kennel was never completed.
She was reminded of these trivial matters when she saw a stray dog on the streets. At that time, she had finally decided to confront the man’s wife. They were living in the same city, and were sleeping beside the same man. And yet, despite seeming to be so near to each other, she had never seen the woman before. She had seen pictures of the woman, but she knew that these were useless in saying anything beyond the photos. This sitch was very much like how she could not say what breed the stray dog was despite the self-asserted dog knowledge of hers. The stray dog lumbered about the streets slowly. It looked lonely…so lonely, that it was compelling people to pat its head; that yet, at the same time, looked so dirty that people would subconsciously avoid the unkempt canine from afar. She avoided it, while imagining how the woman who opened the door would call her a bitch. It was as if she could see the anger and abhorrence in the woman’s eyes. Her feelings towards the stray dog then got even more perplexed.
She thought of that chihuahua she never owned. At times, when she looked at her family portraits taken when she was young, she would always regret not taking a picture of the chihuahua. When Mommy subsequently took her to walk past the pet shop, the chihuahua was no longer to be seen on the outside of the shop. Someone must have bought it, she thought. She had desperately wanted to cry at that moment, but with Mommy beside her, she held her tears back. She held on. And on. And on. And all of a sudden, she had already walked to the doorstep of his house.
Never had she considered that his wife was not home. It was their 8-year-old daughter who opened the door. She looked a lot like her father. Stunned, she widened her eyes with all her might. The girl was holding a pure white chihuahua in her arms.
Then, she was reminded of that one deeply buried in her heart, that one uncompleted and will forever remain as, that half of a kennel.
Translated by Chia Wan Ting Jolene
(Eunoia Junior College MTL Department)