I wasn’t scared one bit. Oh, ok — you got me. I am not being entirely truthful. I just told you a small white lie. Truth be told, I was a tad nervous, but I can’t help it: I was born nervous. My mother might have attributed it to bad genes or the fact that I never knew my father, but I never got the chance to ask her. She was run over by a car when I was barely a week old. Foster care. Adoption. My siblings were scattered to the four winds.
Growing up in Nairobi, I remember the wind as a delicate caress that brought with it the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and hibiscus flowers. On lazy weekend mornings, I would lie in the backyard, my nose twitching with excitement at the palette of aromas at my disposal. Those carefree days are now far behind me, their memory blurred by the passing of time. The wind in Chisinau is different than the winds of my childhood. It is cruel and biting. It howls and whistles in the eaves of our home. Sometimes in the evenings it blows so hard that I stagger when we walk outside. I always stop and try to sniff out the news it brings, hoping to catch a familiar whiff of my faraway homeland, but it’s never there.
There was hardly any wind tonight, which I might have welcomed as a pleasant change if only I had not grown accustomed to distrusting change. I grew even more suspicious when I saw the jacket and footwear. Any time I have to don them, I know that I can expect no good to come from it. Even so, after spending several hours waiting patiently, all alone in the dark house, I quickly forgot my apprehension in the excitement of being let outside.
I bounded eagerly down the stairs, my rubber-soled bootees clacking on the marble staircase. Yet, when the door opened I was unsure whether I should proceed. A downy, white carpet had been spread out on the ground, covering everything in sight. I gingerly took a step, and then another. My bootees didn’t make a sound, but the ground no longer seemed to support me and I sunk into the unfamiliar substance.
It was a bewitching sensation. The white stuff was cold and wet. I tried to shrug it off but no matter how many times I shook my entire body from head to toe — and believe me, I tried it many times — the sensation lingered, a burning chill that started at the tip of my nose and penetrated me to the core. I tried to get to the bottom of the situation, but somehow burying my entire head in this unfamiliar stuff did not give me any more answers, just more tingling.
This was serious business. My owner said as much himself. Or at least I think he did. He kept saying something about me doing my business, and eventually — once the novelty of it all wore off — I noticed tufts of grass poking through the whiteness. It was reassuring to see that the grass was still there and the more we walked back and forth the more I was able to relax.
We are back inside now. It’s a bit boring, but most of the time I think I prefer it this way.