My Darling Asterix,
Two years or so ago, you came into our lives.
You were one of a litter of five.
And you were definitely the runt of the pack.
Eventually, we called you Asterix, because you were definitely not an Obelix, and you fit very comfortably in the palm of my hand.
But even then, I have to admit, I was drawn to you.
You could not hold your own in any fight.
You could not fight.
You could not hurt anyone.
You were not a threat to anyone.
Your only course of action, from any sort of discomfort, was retreat.
You were, are and always will be, the underdog.
Still I managed to prevail on the rest of my family that you should be the only one from the litter that we would keep.
One, because somewhere deep down, I felt you would not survive this rough and tumble world without the constant protection of your father and mother, Atom and Amber.
And two, because… well, because I just loved you.
What we did not know then, was that you were born with a congenital heart problem.
The veterinarian doctor called it something complicated, a Sick Sinus Syndrome.
A rare problem with the electrical circuitry of the heart, which causes the heart to beat irregularly.
Two of your siblings, Yoda and Able, had the same condition.
Unfortunately, we did not know this and both of them passed away suddenly.
And since then we have always lived, and loved you, with this fear at the back of our minds.
Two days ago, your heart stopped.
Just like that.
We were finishing the last crumbs of our dinner, and I had just turned to smuggle a few morsels to you, when...
Your father attacked you.
Or so it seemed.
Later, I realized that your father, the super intelligent Atom, was probably the first one to notice that something was wrong.
And had leapt at you to wake you up.
Or draw our attention to you.
At that time all I knew was that when I dragged him off you, you weren’t moving.
I lifted you up as swiftly as I could.
The fear at the back of my mind rushed forward.
You were not breathing.
You had no heart beat.
Your mouth was in a tight rictus.
Your eyes were wide open, unseeing, I knew, because they did not see me, I knew.
You were dead my darling Asterix, you were dead.
I rushed you to my mother’s lap.
My mother, who is a doctor, but not very well herself, started giving you mouth to mouth, while simultaneously starting chest compressions to try, somehow, please God somehow, please, please, please… to somehow, restart your heart.
But your eyes stayed unseeing.
Your little chest did not stir.
My mother asked me to take over the heart compressions.
Which I did.
While praying and talking to you at the same time.
But you did not seem to hear.
And neither did He.
Even as I fervently pumped and prayed.
One, two, three, four… please God, please God, save my little Asterix, come on Asterix, wake up, you can do it… please God… one two three four…
Finally my mother, her mouth dry, her own breath exhausted, could not breathe anymore into your lungs.
So my wife took over for a bit and then my daughter.
Blow hard, Ahana, but not so hard…
While I continued pumping your fragile little, bony little, helpless little chest.
One, two, three, four… blow blow… one two three four… pump again… please God, please God… someone call the vet…
Hello, hello, from the side of my ear, I could hear someone yell, hello, hello, our dog has had a heart attack can you come over, what, we have to bring him over? But he’s not moving, he’s dead… we need you… ok we have to bring him over…
My mother glanced at her watch.
I could see her shake her head.
My wife was crying, my daughter was crying.
Come on Asterix, come on darling, you can do it, please God, please God, please…
His eyes were still unseeing.
Let’s take him to the vet ok I said someone called the vet again we are coming come on get the car keys we’ll take your car you drive I will keep pumping I am not going to stop I am not going to stop come on Asterix you can do it come on we will get you to the vet come on you’ll be fine come on…
I can hear him breathe, my daughter said hopefully, but it was just air rasping through his lungs as I pumped his chest.
I can feel his heart beat, I said, but it was just the pulse in my own fingers.
His face told me the only truth.
Asterix, my darling Asterix, was dead.
Come on Asterix, dear God, please God, please help, please let him come alive.
I rushed to the lift, my little baby Asterix cradled in the crook of my arm, my fingers still pumping his scrawny chest, pushed the lift button with my elbow, when…
I ran inside.
I saw him blink! I yelled, I saw him blink!
I kept pumping, with purpose now, as everyone crowded around.
Come on, come on Asterix, you can do it.
He moved his head!
I saw him, I saw him blink, come on Asterix, my daughter yelled.
We rushed into the lift, down to the car, little Asterix cradled in my arms, as I pumped his little chest, still, making sure his little fragile heart kept beating.
Slowly as my wife weaved the car through Bombay’s night traffic, little Asterix lifted his head, and looked around, and maybe he wanted to pump his fierce little heart himself, because he turned around till his chest lay downwards on my arm, still I tried to massage his chest, no one was giving up yet.
Then finally we were at the vet.
A heart rate monitor.
An oxygen chamber.
Asterix, my darling Asterix, was alive.
His heart rate was slow and still unsteady, but Asterix was definitely alive.
The night passed slowly as I kept coming awake to check that the little ball of fur snuggled into my side was still breathing.
It has been two days now.
And every day, every hour, every time I watch him run his sideways run, jauntily wiggling his little butt, every extra second that we have had with him, has been special, a gift.
Asterix, my darling Asterix, no matter what happens now, no matter how many more breaths you take, how many more beats your fragile heart makes, I want you to know this while you are still alive:
Your life has had a meaning.
Your tiny life is precious to ours.
And I am glad, so glad, that we helped you live.
And I am glad, so glad, that we helped you live.