Whelped behind an old Hindu temple on the road linking the beach of Mullaitivu and the lagoon, she was the lone survivor of her pack easily recognized by her light brown coat, perky ears, pointed snout and delicate feet.
The others—her children, siblings, sires, foes and friends—had died in the war or in its genocidal aftermath, from bombs, gun fire, mines, starvation, thirst or illness.
She hunted alone, trying to avoid eating those bodies strewn on the beach even though they were as omnipresent as her hunger.
She knew these Tamil humans by their scent, their voice, the colors they wore before becoming this etiolated bloat. Some fed her. Others kicked her. She followed them to school, to temple, to market. They were her familiars.
She watched as the Sinhalese soldiers—The Others—closed in on them. She cowered from the inescapable thunder of the mortars, the hissing of missiles, the shrieking of jets passing overhead whose bellies were heavy with bombs. Her ears rang with the cries of mothers wailing, clutching their dead children.
She crouched low in the dirt, watching the Tamil Tigers knock on doors, rip the terrified children from their families and foist the guns into their puny arms to fight The Others.
She smelled the offending odors of The Others’ sex whose scent lingered on the female humans she once knew before they became empty.
She felt the rumbling of the war machines before they could. She barked, whined and pawed at them. She tried to tell them to get into the trenches so many had built for such moments.
In that madness, they had no patience for the noisy bitch. Some threw discarded coconut shells at her or brandished sticks or stones. She slinked away, with her tail tucked, in sad confusion.
One by one she watched them die. With the planting seasons abandoned, she could not mark time.
New humans came, speaking like The Others. They erected new buildings upon the carcasses of old. The town was not familiar now.
Her eyes became marbled clouds. Her hearing diminished. Hips ached. Unable to hunt the chipmunks, they frolicked in front of her with increasing impunity.
Her body trembled from starvation and illness. Mange sunk deep into her flesh.
She pondered her loneliness and why she had survived these atrocities. She sought the comfort of sleep and nested in the dirt alone some distance from the Vaddu Vakal Bridge.
In the early hours of no-morning-in-particular, The Others’ truck sped over her frail body without so much as noticing. She took one last look at her beloved Nanthi Kadal lagoon, unable to move and in a pain she could not endure. She closed her tired eyes.
She had not yet given up her life when the clatter of hungry birds descended upon her soft belly to pick out her pink entrails.
Too weak to move, bark or whimper, she heaved her last breath. The last witness was no more.
C. Christine Fair : “I am an associate professor within the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. While I have published extensively, my previous publications have been scholarly nonfiction. (My personal website is christinefair.net.) My research covers the political and military events of South Asia. Consequently, I travel extensively throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka as well as other locales as demanded by my research.”