Light tea coloured puppy
Adolfo is four years old. It’s Sunday and his parents got up with a desire to go to the park. The child is still asleep, the mother does not want to wake him up. The father reads the newspapers, there is silence and peace in the soft morning. The light enters diagonally through the child’s window, a ray of sun touches the fine hair, a movement under the blankets and two clear eyes open. They bring the child out of his sleep and leave him on Sunday morning.
Breakfast in the kitchen approaches; fruit arranged on blue plates, fragrant cups of coffee, curdled milk from Martona*, the grandparent’s farm, puff pastries, cheeses, grapefruit juice … the boy is already laughing. Dressed up for Sunday, they leave the house.
There is a festival in the park. The parents wonder if there is something that the child likes, something that makes him happy in order to see him laugh, to enjoy his joy. They move through the gardens looking at candy sales; coloured mints, chocolates shaped like animals, sugar canes. Near the fountain, in the arbor are the amusements: merry-go-round, dexterity games, target shooting.
The boy’s father, Adolfo, tries to throw the rings on the bottles; five rings; if you pass one by the neck of a bottle, you win. No luck nor a lot of good aim, it’s the truth. Further ahead are the pets: rabbits, pigeons, kittens, puppies. The child sees the puppies, without noticing the bird cage he carries on, he hesitates before the cats and rushes to the spot with the puppies.
The pet seller is pleased with the excitement of the child, the parents let him pet one. The boy looks at his mother pleadingly, she shakes her head. Then, he looks at his father who raises his eyebrows and looks at the mother. Marta, the mother, bends down, picks up a light tea coloured puppy and returns it to the pet seller. The boy cries, the puppy looks at the child and moves its head to the side, blinks, giving off a sound of puppy empathy he keeps looking at him. The eyes of the four year old Adolfo are full of tears. The father picks him up and raises him in the air to comfort him. He puts the child on his shoulders and they move away from the field of puppies.
On the park bench, Marta offers the child a small chocolate animal as a consolation; the boy rejects it with anger. From the depths of his childhood, he lets out a sigh, his soul feels blocked. The morning continues to ascent through the cloudless sky, for a few moments the boy forgets about the puppy as he plays games in the park. They take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
The smell of the horses alleviates the boy’s sorrow. Marta and Adolfito climb the cart; Adolfo – the father – waves at them. The noise of the hooves on the road erases the sadness, the movement of the cart is like a dance that follows the music of the four hooves. The sorrow for the puppy has calmed down, the hot day seems to have reached its rise. The cart stops next to the field of puppies. Before he gets off, Adolfito sees a light tea coloured pup among the commotion of joy of the puppies.
He doesn’t say a word. Only a resigned sigh and silence. As he gets off, the driver gives the father, who picks up the child, a raffle ticket to win a pet. The ticket is free, it’s a gift. The father asks:
‘How do you play?’
‘There is a number on the back, 023.’
The mother approaches to listen.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘Nothing, they gave us a ticket for a raffle.’
The driver asks for the name of the boy.
‘Adolfo Bioy Casares.’
The driver writes down the word. The family moves towards the food stands. Chocolate ice-cream with mint sprinkles, cold beer with peanuts, orange juice and bread rolls. The day tilts towards the afternoon, stretched out on the grass they take a nap on this calm Sunday.
The noise of a megaphone interrupts the evening reverie.
‘The children who have a ticket for the raffle, please move closer: in a few moments the raffle will be drawn.’
The father sits up and without looking at the mother, he takes the boy by the hand and walks towards the source of the noise. The mother protests.
‘But Adolfo, what are you doing?’
Without answering, without looking back, Adolfo gets between people who are gathering up in front of the platform. The boy asks to be picked up so that he can see. From the father’s shoulders he sees puppies over on the golden field by the saffron sun of the afternoon, they are playing, simulating attacks, lying down and making laugh like noises; touched by the red light they seem even more beautiful … almost like memories. The child’s eyes look for the puppy. They find him distracted from love, from the impulse, from the bond that unites them. Another painful skip of a beat in his soul flourishes as he’s on his father’s shoulders. The raffle beings.
Marta, the mother tries to separate her men from the place but she achieves nothing. The pet seller calls a girl over to take the winning number from a bag of green cloth. The girl passes it from arm to arm, flying in the afternoon. The light vibrates. On the platform, a small hand looks for a piece of paper at the bottom, she takes out several ones and is asked to do it again. She puts her back in and takes it out with a piece of paper stuck to her fingers. The pet seller takes it and reads it.
‘023 … the child Adolfo Bioy Casares has won a puppy. Congratulations, you can come closer to pick one.’
The parents look at each other and in that look there is a tense dialogue. The pet seller calls again.
‘If the child Adolfo Bioy Casares is present, please come up with one of your parents.’
The child asks:
‘What is happening, why are they calling me?’
‘ Son, you have won a puppy.’
The father makes his way over with the child hoisted up in his arms and puts him in the field of puppies, a light tea coloured puppy comes running towards the child. The father gives the password to the pet seller, Marta observes, both pleased and confused. Two puppies of the litter are brought in next; they are happy to be in their sacred place, to celebrate life, to celebrate flourishing. The child feels the sweet breath of the puppy, the pup senses the boys scent. The sweet fragrance of childhood seals the bond and the soul of the games that possesses them. The parents, who wanted to enjoy seeing their sons joy, look confused. The day has almost come to an end and lights up before extinguishing.
It is time to go home.
The father, child and puppy all embraced together leave the park, the mother follows them. At home there is a little bit of warm milk for the new inhabitant of the house and porridge for Adolfito. In the room, the blankets are unmade in the morning, the two creatures joined together in the pleasure of their close friendship are overcome by sleepiness/half asleep. The parents dine in the kitchen, the bitter discussion erases the beautiful day in one fell swoop; Adolfo the father says:
‘If you do that, the child will believe that everything is absurd.’
Marta, without answering, leaves with determination towards her bedroom. When he wakes up in the morning, the boy looks around for his puppy. He does not see it in the room, he gets up and goes to look for the puppy around the house. Nothing. He goes into the kitchen, the father is reading the newspapers. The boy asks for his puppy.
‘Talk to your mother.’
Adolfito looks for his mother and finds her in front of the three mirrored dresser combing her hair. The child looks at her through one of the mirrors and asks if she has seen his puppy. The mother looks at him from another mirror and says to him that she must tell him something: that there is no puppy.
‘ You have slept a lot and while you were sleeping you dreamed. You dreamed that we went to the park, that it was Sunday, that there was a festival, that you ate chocolate ice-cream with mint chips, that there was a man with many puppies. You dreamed that you took a ride a ride in the horse-drawn carriage, that in the afternoon they were raffling a puppy and you dreamed that you had won a light tea coloured puppy.
The child moved away from the mirror through which the mother spoke. And he looked for the father in the kitchen, looking at the splash of milk left by the pup on the floor.
‘Hi, dad, last night I dreamed that we went to the park and that I slept in the field and I dreamed that the dream was real …’
* Martona – the first dairy industry in Argentina