“I am sorry Daisy, there is not much I can do.”

I looked across the table at the man who had no inkling that he had just announced two death sentences in one go.

Both of us stared at each other somberly. Tears were building up in my eyes as I tried to keep a brave front in front of this man. I blinked rapidly and looked around in the spotless white room of his clinic.

“How long before he…?” I couldn’t complete the sentence as I averted my eyes  down at my hands helplessly. My mind wandered off to that fateful day or should I say, a fruitful day…

“How long before he… before he dumps you Daisy? That man is a compulsive alcoholic, an abusive, arrogant and spiteful man.”

I laughed at my friend’s statement. “Yaar, Viren just needs some time. He’ll change, I know it.”

“Yeah, he’ll change… he’ll change his partner for sure. As long as he finds you worthwhile, he’ll keep apologizing for his uncanny behavior and then one fine day, boom he’ll be gone.”

I had met Viren a couple of years ago when I had attended one of his company’s media conferences. We hit it off instantly having the same set of likes and dislikes like most other compatible couples. Viren was a thorough gentleman,  warm, polite, tender and with a subtle sense of humour. He made me feel important and more than that, he made me feel like a woman in the true sense. My parents had always desired a son but unfortunately god had bestowed them with a girl. I, on my part, had tried my best to live up to a son’s image in the eyes of my parents while they were still alive. Alas.

It was our anniversary and I and my friend waited for Viren to join us at the coffee shop. I had brought a nice lucky bamboo plant for him as a gift. It would find a place in the bedroom for sure among other aromatic plants or maybe the kitchen I thought to myself. Viren was late as usual. I tried to change the topic of our conversation.

“So how’s your new job?”

“Sucks but I am not here to talk about my new job or your damn promotion Daisy.”

“Please let’s not spoil the mood. Viren will be here any moment.”

“Daisy my darling, why can’t you see the writings on the wall? That man is living off you. He’s like a flea that lives off a dog’s life.”

She was right. No sooner did I get in a relationship with Viren, he and I had decided to move in together. Ultimately, we had to look for a bigger place since my leased accommodation wasn’t big enough for the two of us and his… well I didn’t even know where he lived.

With difficulty, we managed to get a nice ground floor flat with an attached garden, something which I had always desired. It’s so difficult to find such a place in a big city like Mumbai and despite the fact that the rent was high, I didn’t want to let it go.

We moved in and settled in our new house. He sure made himself comfortable easily as it was a matter of time before he quit his job and settled down completely in the new house doing nothing other than watching television night and day with booze for company. And in a matter of time, he changed. From a loving tender young man, he soon transformed into an alcoholic, abuser partner. I tried to talk to him but the replies were always booze laden. And fights became frequent till this morning.

“Viren, it’s our second anniversary today.”

“You’ve been watching too many movies lately. Our anniversary of our first meeting doesn’t demand a celebration.”

“Please Viren, at least not today.”

“Shut up. Now you’re going to tell me when to talk or when to keep my damn mouth shut?”

I kept silent, trying to hold back my anger, trying to hold back my tears.

“Listen bitch, don’t you give me a silent treatment.”

“What do you want me to say Viren? You don’t even bother to try and reach me. I always thought we had a good future together.”

“Sure sure, we do have a future that is if you behave like a typical Indian woman and keep your mouth shut.”

“I can’t do that. Why don’t you understand? I work hard, I run this house, I take care of your needs and yet you want me to…”

The slap came fast and hard. I was too stunned to react even as he stormed out of the house, banging the door shut behind him.

“He’s here.”

“What?” I looked around and realized I was still at the coffee shop. My friend nodded her head. I looked across at the entrance and could see through the glass door, Viren walk up with a swagger. I could make out he was drunk but not the other girls in the coffee shop who eyed him with a long wistful look.

I got up as he approached the table. Both of us stared at each other waiting for the other to say something. Finally, he broke the peace.

“It’s over Daisy.”

“What? Sorry, I don’t understand.”

“I said it’s over between us Daisy. I have emptied my stuff from your house…” He laid a long emphasis on your.

“Wait Viren, I am sorry, I was just…”

He pulled out the house keys and threw it on the table and without another word, walked out of the coffee shop. My eyes stared blankly at his retreating back not noticing that he had got in a car driven by a girl.

“I am sorry Daisy…” My friend held me in a hug. I was too lost to even shed a tear.

Sorry is such a foolish word I thought to myself. Can a simple word like sorry heal a person’s troubled heart? Can it beg for forgiveness? Can it demand an amnesiac response from a troubled heart where all is forgiven and forgotten? And now even the doctor was expressing his anguish with a sorry.

And I think god did try his best to justify the existence of the word sorry that same day when Viren dumped me, the very day when I found a new person in my life, soon sharing my life, my house, my bedroom… He had just walked up to my door that very day as I tearfully opened the door to my house to enter in on that fateful day or should I say fruitful day.

He planted a kiss on my cheek as I lay blissfully asleep on my bed. The evening before, work assignment had kept me late out at night but he made sure he was there to receive me home with a happy smile. There was something about him that was naughty and mischievous. He loved to pamper me with kisses which Viren never did. He loved to wait for me to return home no matter what the time was and never questioned me about my late comings. He wasn’t fussy about his food or his drink or his appearance.

Within a couple of weeks, our relationship blossomed from strangers to acquaintances to being friends and now to being in a unique relationship. He could make me laugh, he could make me cry tears of joy with his crazy antics, he could make me angry, and he could make me sad. Yes that was my new buddy, my Tonu, my dog who had landed up at my home that day, begging me with his big sloppy eyes to let him in to escape the chill wintery evening. He must have been all of 3 months or so but his shriveled body gave a different number.

Tonu would wander around the house like he was its proud owner. At night he would cuddle up next to me making me feel truly loved. If not the house, he would prance around the little garden trying to chase butterflies and the dragonflies.

On the way back from work, I picked up a 3-month old sampling of my favorite fruit – mango in honour of my new friend. This will go in the corner patch of the garden just next to the red hibiscus plant where Tonu loved to lie down on a warm sunny day.

I got down working digging a small hole in the ground while Tonu watched intently. And soon his small paws were also digging furiously in the ground as if searching for a hidden bone. Delicately, I planted the sampling and covered the seed with enough soil and watered the plant. Tonu’s eyes were not missing anything.

As time flew by, I forgot to plant the sampling but Tony religiously made sure that the sampling wasn’t devoid of the luxurious water. He would piss on it every time he felt like letting go off some steam while I would watch unable to control my laughter.

And today 4 years to that day when I had found that bundle of joy, the doctor had pronounced his death sentence. Tonu had given me a reason to live with his unconditional love. He had healed my troubled heart and now he was on his last journey with a disease that gave heart a negative image. Heartworm that had corroded his heart, made him so helpless.

It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.

She carried her luggage outside and locked the door behind her. She was moving back to her parents’ home and making it her own as a daughter should.  She turned towards the garden, at the spot near the mango tree to take one last look at Tonu’s final resting place. The tree would comfort him as he lay sleeping peacefully. After all, Tonu had attended to the tree’s need lovingly all these years, she thought with a smile.