That afternoon, I felt like I needed a breath of fresh air, a breath away from the sometimes, suffocating city. I departed in search of a patch of green, stranded among a sea of concrete. When I trespassed to the oasis, the softness of the grass on my soles and the cold whisper of the trees restored my vitality.
As I wandered through, I realized I was not alone in my tiny paradise, and when I figured out who my companion was, I froze at mid step.
A few yards from me was a huge dun rat that apparently had come out from a strainer on top of a popping block of concrete. Usually, rats are very elusive animals that escape at first sight of a human nearby—but not this time. My curiosity pushed me closer to the animal, and then I realized something was not right. The rat tried to return to the sewer, limping clumsily, so the journey was short. The rat was trembling. The belly swelled and sunk with a long and painful panting. Blood was dripping from the muzzle. It has been poisoned—I concluded with funerary tone.
I observed the animal, that most of the time we refer as “pests,” that we consider ugly and associate a bunch of horrible adjectives to their kind by living in the dirty sewers, among the tons of trash created and dumped by men. And somehow, here it was the animal we consider disgusting, that climbed out from hiding, just to die on a soft bed of grass, below the warm sunbeams to appease the cold embrace of death—just like anybody of us would like.
The animal was not so animal anymore.
But my feelings of sympathy were overtaken by pity.
By that moment, the rat was accustomed to my presence, or maybe the fact that her life was draining had struck her. She had nothing to lose anymore, so I got closer and knelt by her side.
I looked her into the eye wondering what the story behind her life was, it have been happy? (If such concept was comprehensive to their minds of course) But maybe had eaten enough, travelled enough, and had dozens of little baby rats … but even so, she was alone. No one at her deathbed, but me—a visitor from the same kind of dirty ugly pests that poison the sewers.
But even if I was an unwanted company, nothing saddens dying more than solitude, with death bypassed by the everydayness of our egocentric lives.
Then, I sat on the grass and pulled my cellphone out from my pocket. I started the Youtube APP and looked for a song to play on the speakers.
“And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain”
I listened to Frank Sinatra thinking that nobody should die alone.
“Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption”
Convinced that when the moment arrives, at least somebody should be there to mourn our departure.
“For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way”
I stayed there, until the pain ceased. Beholding the sunset that for someone was it last.
M. Ch. Landa