By Emmanuel Baladi
In the year 1996, in a rainforested nation, in a city where the rain never stopped falling a boy lived with his dog. The city received a lot of rain and was called Lae. But people had taken to calling it different names: the Second, Pothole City, Wopa Land, and the Cement City. How these names came about is a story for another day.
The boy, christened Emmanuel at birth had in turn christened her girl dog Blacky when he came into ownership of the dog.
Emmanuel lived with his parents and two older sisters, Anne Marry and Eve . The family lived in a suburb not far removed from the central business district.
As is the case with some children and their dogs, Emmanuel and Blacky were the of best friends. People loved to see the little boy and his black dog engaged in lively play outside.As in the case with all dogs, Blacky never wanted to part with the boy on school mornings when Emmanuel had to commute to school. It would follow Emmanuel, only to be led back home where Emmaunel’s mum would lock it up until he was out of sight or more correctly, out of scent.
Coming home, the dog will be already waiting for the boy at the gate, tail wagging vigorously, panting, and welcoming him. The boy usually swung the gate open and picked up his black furry pet, kissing, hugging and running his fingers down it’s black silky fur.
Abandoning changing out of his school uniform and discarding his backpack on the grass, the boy would continue playing with his dog until his mom, right as clockwork would call for them to retire. It was an almost daily ritual.
One particularly fateful night, Emmanuel’s mom was serving the family dinner on the floor, as is common in Papua New Guinean families. She was a tad bit tired after a long day of doing chores. Blacky was left to fend for food itself.
Blacky having sniffed aromas of food pushed open the door and went straight to where the boy’s mother was dishing out food, but did not find her plate of food.It was a norm that Blacky’s food was served together with the family dinner. Blacky having lived with the family for a while knew Emmaunel’s favourite plate and so made it her task to sniff up the contents of the plate.Unfortunately, it got scolded and chased out of the house.
Whimpering, the dog sought cover, then decided that it was better to be outdoors. It trotted out the house, out the yard and onto the road.A few yards off there stood a building that housed a sausage factory called Prima. Knowing that she might be lucky in looking for food there she headed for the sausage factory.
At that exact moment, Emmanuel was planted in front of the TV, absorbed in his favourite program.Blacky was out in the dark. A loud sound suddenly broke the stillness of the evening air. Tyres swerved on the road, a roaring car engine! Was it an accident? But amidst the din a canine was whining in pain, it’s cries fading with each passing second, until it stopped.
“Whose dog was that!” Voices came from across the street.
“DOG meat for a dinner!” Cheekier voices cried out.
The cheekiness of the voices died down and lower, subdued voices took over. Everyone recognized the black dog that was only recently so full of life and brought many a smile to a face.
Two teenage boys took it upon themselves to bring the dog to the boy.Emmanuel still did not know what was happening.
His family was sitting out on the patio swapping tales of how their day went. Soon they could make out shapes of the teenagers approaching. As the boys stepped into the pool of light spilling from the verandah, everyone noticed the black furred creature on the arm of the boy closest to the verandah.
Emmanuel’s parents and eldest sister went to have a closer look. Eve the middle kid ran inside calling wildly for Emmanuel.The boy walked out and stood at the veranda and looked down. People were milling around the lifeless body of Blacky. His 1st grade heart broke into a million pieces, and he stood where he was, never taking his eyes off the furred black creature.
Blacky was still breathing, every breath painful.Squatting beside the dog, Emmaunel eventually adapted a cross legged position on the grass and gathered the dog up. Sobbing, he stroked the black fur.”Blacky! Wake up! Wake up!” The boy almost screamed.But the dog had took its last, long, suffering breath just moments before.
A kindly neighbor gave the boy a hug. The boy’s parents and sisters wiped hot tears and tried to comfort him.
The teenaged brothers offered to bury the boys dogs.
The kindly neighbors chipped in money – enough for the boy to buy himself a brand new pet friend.
And on that very night that it died, the dog was buried near a power pole – laid to rest by two teenaged boys. The boy felt heartsick, and his parents excused him from school for an entire week.
He woke up with the memory of the dog who had been his best friend every day.Every year, the boy visits his dog’s grave yard unfailingly.