I’ve missed you …!

A screeching sound of a car braking suddenly and a burst of yelling with expletives!!

But nothing can stop Puffie as he ran behind Avi. Avi on hearing the screeching and yelling had momentarily looked back but seeing Puffie fine, he had kept running.

Puffie ran as fast as he could to catch up with Avi so that he is not left behind in the football game. If he is late, he will not be included in the game. He loved chasing the ball with Avi and friends. Most of all, he just adored Avi’s company and loved doing what Avi is doing or just hanging around with him.

Yes, Avi was the person he adored the most and looked up to in the world. Well, why not, it is because of him, Puffie is alive today.

****

It was the night when he was following his siblings and Mother, in a storm, he had not seen before in his life and was trying his best to keep pace with his family. Once or twice, his Mother stopped for him to catch up with them, as he struggled with his wobbly legs. But he was so pathetically slow that his Mother did not stop anymore. One of his stronger siblings even growled and kicked him, when Mother was not looking, irritated that because of him they are not able to reach safety sooner. But Puffie, that was not what he was called then though, was trying his best!

He used to be his Mother’s favourite with curly browns and dark eyes, but soon his stronger siblings had dislodged him from that affection, as he could see now. But he was doing his best not to be left behind in this dark stormy night!

And then he just slipped and fell into a ditch. He yelped and howled, first out of fear and then to get the attention of his Mother and siblings, but none could hear him in the din caused by the storm. The more he struggled, the more he kept getting stuck and sank further, until he was too tired and just gave up and just kept sinking …

He was jolted back to consciousness, when he found himself being picked up, out of the ditch and someone carrying him away. The storm seemed to have stopped and it was morning. He was too weak to protest, he just kept clinging for support.

He vaguely remembers what happened next.

The one who was carrying him was a little boy, named Avi. On reaching his home, Puffie remembers a lot of loud noises, while Avi still kept holding him tightly. The warmth which he felt from this, was some sort of a comfort for Puffie.

But it was short-lived and he once again found himself out in the world. But this time not in the ditch but on the grass outside Avi’s house. He was too weak to protest, to hold his head up, he just lay on the grass. The warmth of the sun was as much reassuring as the warmth he felt from Avi, well almost.

Puffie doesn’t remember how long he was outside, but he does remember that he was carried inside again and given warm milk. He finished it off and then again lay back to sleep. He just wanted to sleep for some more time.

What followed, was being christened as Puffie, and becoming a member of this wonderful family. He soon figured that Avi’s Mother can also be his Mother, if he listened to her. And he did, very dutifully. He also figured that Avi’s Father is someone he should keep a distance. Once he wanted to sleep over his boots and hadn’t realized that Avi’s Father’s feet were inside them. The shriek which emanated and the kick he got on his tummy, and the way he flew across the room, were things he had never forgotten.

But Avi’s presence, love and care, made Puffie forget everything from his past and settle down nicely into his new life and family.

He did what Avi did. When Avi studied, Puffie would wait patiently and quietly for him to finish. When he played with his toys, he would play too. The best part was of course when they went out in the lawn and played frisbee or ball. He slept when Avi slept, he woke up with him, he ate when Avi ate and played with him and pretty much his life revolved around Avi.

But there were days when Avi would go off in that yellow bus. Puffie would be heart broken and then follow Mother all around the house much to her chagrin but sometimes she would be in a kind mood and just let him.

Puffie would wait patiently for Avi to come back and get ready to go to the park to play football. Today was another day, when Avi and he had been running towards the park and he narrowly escaped from being run over by a car. He didn’t care. He didn’t die. He was running after Avi, who was getting stronger and stronger and now was able to run faster than him. He did not want to be left out of the football game. He loved chasing the ball just like Avi and his friends.

****

Puffie’s life continued in blissful ignorance that Avi is growing up. They still did things together but sometimes, Avi would throw him out of his room, (Puffie always thought it was his room too, but!!) and have his friends over. Once he had managed to get in and was shocked by the loud sounds coming out and red, blue and all other kinds of light flickering around, and Avi and his friends jumping around madly. He couldn’t stand the sound and what he saw so went to check on Mother.

Time passed and nowadays, Avi doesn’t go to play in the park anymore. Puffie misses that a lot. But still he finds comfort just laying down and waiting for Avi to finish his studies. It seems that that is all he does these days. But Puffie doesn’t mind as long as he is able to look at his most adored person.

Then one day, he found Avi weeping over his pillow. Puffie’s heart broke into pieces. He vowed to take revenge on whoever did this to Avi, but he didn’t know what or on whom. He jumped over Avi and just held him tightly. Just what Avi would do, if something happened to Puffie.

Puffie remembers that day clearly. Avi weeping and then all the family gathering in the dining room. The atmosphere was sombre. Puffie stood by Avi, ready to protect him from any harm. He did not know what or from whom but he was ready to do anything. There were again loud voices and Puffie was shocked to see Avi getting so angry and shouting back at Father. He has never seen Avi behave this way. It frightened him a bit, but it also caused a lot of concern as to what is happening with his Avi.

That night, Avi held Puffie closely and told him that he couldn’t get admitted to the college and course of his choice and thus was going away. Far, far away from Puffie and the rest of his family. Puffie understood some of it but not all, he loved being held by Avi, and just lay there with him.

But then it happened. He saw a lot of frantic activities around the house. When he tried to check out or help, he was mostly pushed away and chided to mind his business. He felt left out of something exciting and so he just went out to the garden to sulk.

That night again Avi held him tightly and told him that he is leaving and going far, far away. This time Puffie sensed that this might be true and felt a surge of sadness and despair. Oh, what will he do without Avi?  Isn’t Avi considering taking him along with him? Surely, he can but why isn’t he? Puffie’s heart sank at what seemed to be ominous days ahead.

And then Avi went away and Puffie was left alone. As far back in his life he could remember, he and Avi were always together. Agreed, last few years, Avi had managed to find time with his friends and didn’t include Puffie as much, but those were okay. He had the morning runs, the evening walks, games at the park some days, the dinner together and swapping stories at night. But all those good old days were gone.

Puffie kept sitting near the door everyday hoping that maybe Avi hasn’t gone far, far away as he claimed but has gone to school and will come back. But days went by and Avi didn’t come home.

Puffie was heartbroken. Now his morning walks were with Father who didn’t play with him and his evening walks were with Mother who would sit on the chair in a park and not let him go anywhere. He missed running around and playing frisbee but nobody to play with. Once he tried to play with a kid who had come to visit them, but realized that he is not as fast and agile as he used to be when he played with Avi. That saddened him. With Avi gone, not only is he lonely, but his strength is leaving him too.

These days he found comfort in laying around a quiet corner of the house. He didn’t bother to check who is coming and going. He just got up for his food and walk and pretty much just slept the whole day.

****

Then after what seemed to be a very long time of gloom and darkness, there were frantic activities around the house again and he sensed that Avi is coming home. This time again he tried to make himself useful and didn’t mind being pushed away. But try as he might, he was not able to do much. So he went and lay beside the door hoping to catch the first glimpse of Avi as soon as he arrived.

And there is Avi!! Puffie suddenly got a new rush of vigour and energy and ran towards Avi and almost toppled him over. Avi laughed as he always did and held him tightly.

Puffie was happy again. Exhausted from his sudden burst of energy and run, but actually euphoric. And just like he always did, he followed Avi around the house. This time he struggled to keep up, but he did not let him out of sight. He was not going to anymore.

That night as he lay beside Avi, he got up and held Avi tightly. Avi held him back.

I have missed you, Avi, Puffie said, as he slipped away towards a patch of sunshine.

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