When I walked up to Only Coffee this morning the #3 dog ran laps around me and the #2 dog came up to be petted. I was glad to see them and sad just the same, so I dragged a plastic chair out to sit in the dirt by the road, drank my steaming coffee from its steel cup, and tried to explain to myself, again, that this was just the way it works: we lose everything.
(Actually, it appears there is something we do not lose, which we cannot lose, but this is scandalous, as well as highly controversial and I am still looking into it.)
I was sitting there, thinking these things, and petting the head of the #2 dog, when my elbow was bumped -- thankfully not the arm holding the coffee -- and at my side appeared the #1 dog: white, brown, black and smart. She ducked under my left leg and presented her neck to be scratched.
I set my cup down on the ground and patted her with both hands. Then, because of a lifelong intolerance to sudden good news, which is not how I was raised, and with which I have never learned to cope, I knew that in another ten seconds I would be dripping with tears, which is just not something one does streetside in Tamil Nadu.
I contrived a quick fix. Gazing across the mad street and past the sacred banyan, I gazed devoutly upon the sacred hill, Arunachala, as if I were absorbed in contemplation of the very highest matters, as if I’d been struck down by some of those super-big-deal extra-fancy revelations that so often come, in this very holy town, to terribly spiritual foreigners, insights so profound that I had no choice but to weep.