Stories matter a lot to me, and the story of Priya will forever be full of gaps. I don’t know when she was born. I don’t know what her first year was like – other than that it didn’t go well. I have no formative tale where I cradled her, held her, chose her.
I do, however, have a secondhand story of a no-name yellow dog with a nasty, infected leg injury and a smiling, smoky-eyed gaze. It’s the same gaze that captivated a French expatriate one October day, who was walking her own two pariah dogs in Delhi. And it’s the same gaze that snared me with a single picture, and sent this thought echoing in my brain: “That is my dog.”
That gaze follows me around my apartment now – luminous, curious, full of questions, lit by the lamp of a bright little mind behind it. The sheer improbability of this staggers me.
I don’t tend to put much stock in the idea that things happen for grand, fate-determined reasons beyond our fathoming. I suspect, for the most part, things just happen – good and bad, beautiful and devastating, and all the in-between. In a universe where things just happen, there’s a gift in knowing good things happen at all. A heightened sense of gratitude and wonder washes in with the tides, at least for me.
I don’t think any particular magic brought this dog to me; it could just as well have been any other. But I’m glad it was this one, and glad for all the magic she has carried with her.
For the first year of her life, she had no name.
Then she was Rahi, which means traveler in Hindi. It is so lovely, both in sound and in meaning, that for a long time I regretted changing it. I regretted that my American accent couldn’t do it justice. But I don’t regret it anymore.
As a first name, Rahi suited her. She was a little urchin whose life spiraled into the far reaches of statistical improbability. Through sheer dumb luck and by being in the right place at the right time, she was plucked out of the hundreds of thousands of pariah dogs in Delhi. She became a vagabond, a sojourner, a nomad. She was a Rahi.
But Priya, in Sanskrit, means beloved. This is her final state of being. And although I don’t tend to believe in such things, maybe this is the place she was heading all along.
Before, she was always just on her way.
This morning, while sitting with this burst of lemon-colored whimsy nestled against my chest, I thought about how these original tags are still true:
#there’s something really wonderful an isdf friend wrote once #and i’m not going to get the exact phrasing right #but it was something about ‘the explosively joyous reincarnation our desi dogs undergo’ #as they transition to their new lives #i don’t know how much of that is true #i don’t know if priya is really all that different #but ‘an explosively joyous reincarnation’ feels like a very apt way of describing how having her in my life has felt #i think a lot of finding magic in one’s life is deciding to frame it that way #and priya makes that decision very easy for me #i am grateful for whatever magic brought her here – whether it exists or not
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