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He tilts his head and frowns. The deep, brown eyes spell polite confusion. I repeat my question.

‘What planet are you from, Igloo?’

The angle of the tilt changes by the slightest degree. I indulge in a stretch within the comfort of the couch and persist.

‘Don’t you remember?’

No response. No woof, no ruff, no arf. Not even the rumble that starts from the depths of the stomach and ends behind the throat. Just an eye and the opposite ear raised higher than the other. His forlorn look demands clarity- and escape.

But not so soon. Not till my mind regains the strength to force itself back to the fantasy novel lying in my lap. I’ve struck a long, descriptive chapter on a llama-aardvark mix from the imaginary Machu-Tubulichu or someplace equally fantastical. I don’t remember. It’s December, my brain is frozen, and the attention span is like the day’s length.

In one quick motion, Igloo darts his eyes to the headless rubber chicken under the wicker chair and back. Too bad, I think. He’d chosen to snuggle up to me at the wrong time.

Don’t you feel like going back to where you came from?’ I ask-

‘Say, perhaps, a planet called Canidus?’

No reaction.

‘Or, Waggater?’

A tiny nose-twitch.

‘Tasiturn?’

Silence.

‘No? How about Yelptune?’

He inches marginally towards the toy.

I sigh.

This, he understands. Two paws are promptly placed on my knees. A drop of drool lands on the open book, magnifying an elegant Q.

‘Our answer is not in the book, no,’ I tell him, staring into the watery eyes that hold a hundred and one questions. If I were him, I’d snappily ask me to stop the bugging and get back to the book. But he’s Igloo- warm and accommodating like his name. Not one mean bone under all the fur and fat.

He’s an opportunist, though. While I stifle a yawn, he lands on all fours with a soft thud. I try to look insulted. His body is turned towards the rubber chicken, but the apologetic eyes are still on me. I control the urge to smile but a flicker escapes. His tail stops midway through a wag.

I bend towards him, eyes narrowed. More annoying questions pop in my head. Pop, pop, pop. Each seems less amusing than the other, so I burst them and give up. He can perhaps see this.

The tail completes the wag. With a smile in his eyes, Igloo approaches the chicken.

The sound of a rubber leg being ripped off tells me to return to the book.

—–

©vaidehi

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