But now shrinks the place where you stand: Where now, stripped by shade, will you go? — Paul Celan


A street dog in Cuba (not euthanized).

Having adopted three cats while I lived there, I spent considerable time in the busy waiting room of an animal hospital in the town of Waco, Texas. One day, an old man brought in a small old dog with him. From the look of the dog, she was still sprightly as she nervously looked up at the old man with her old dog eyes. The man dropped the dog off for it to be euthanized mumbling some explanation about the wife not being able to make the trip. The receptionist at the clinic, who I knew well, had an uncharacteristically expressionless face as the man swiftly left after dropping the dog off and paying the bill. I imagine that the dog was euthanized unceremoniously on some table at the back of the hospital. 

Apart from me, there was only another person, a middle-aged woman, in that room full of people who seemed to have noticed what was happening. I had seen this woman before when she had corrected the receptionist that there was no ‘Mrs.’ attached to her surname. She had a quiet and independent way about her that I found very attractive.

That day, in that room full of people, I saw her turn face red and tears were coming down her beautiful face. I could see that those were private tears and she wasn’t crying for show. She uttered some quiet words to herself as if to express her disbelief at what she had just seen. At least that’s how I read her reaction.

I never got to meet that beautiful Texan woman. But from time to time, when I am about to give up on having a true understanding of the women of my life, I think of her and quietly utter the magical word:


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