#365DaysOfWriting – Day 209

The Last Leaf

Little Nimmi loved O. Henry.

In a world where girls her age read Mills & Boons, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys or Malory Towers, Nimmi wanted to read O. Henry.

She was rather fascinated by The Last Leaf more than any other story. To her, that was the triumph of love, and she was convinced no other force was stronger than the force of love. Love could solve EVERY problem in the world.

One day, she heard her parents talking about Olaf, their dog.

Olaf was almost 14 years old. He had breathing problems and his legs would give way if he tried to run.

“We can’t tell Nimmi, but Olaf is really suffering. The doctor says he can’t survive for long…”

“I think we should put the poor guy to sleep…”

Little Nimmi came running into the room. “Mamma, wait, I have an idea.”

Her parents were jolted by her sudden appearance. “H-h-haan beta?”

“Olaf loves playing fetch na? Let me play fetch with him just before he sleeps every day. He’ll have something to look forward to! And he won’t go away.”

“But beta, he can’t run…”

“Don’t worry mom and dad! I know just the thing. You leave Olaf to me.”

With that, Nimmi bounded out of the room.

“Let’s not give her false hope…”

“Arre if it keeps her happy, let her continue na…”

So everyday, just before bedtime, Nimmi would play fetch with Olaf.

Olaf couldn’t run, so Nimmi would throw the ball and fetch it herself. Somehow it made Olaf very happy. He would bark and wag his tail approvingly.

Eventually, Olaf would come to Nimmi everyday, so that he could see her fetch the ball. Nimmi didn’t mind one bit.

One day, she came back from school to find Olaf breathing heavily.

Her parents were panic-stricken. They called the vet, who was on his way. Nimmi threw her bag aside and rushed to get the ball. She started playing fetch again. Olaf’s laboured breathing became a little better.

With an almighty effort, he barked. Nimmi came and sat by his side. He put his paws on Nimmi’s hand and shut his eyes.

The vet arrived, but Olaf had already passed.

Nimmi was inconsolable.

“HE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO DIE! I GAVE HIM LOVE! I GAVE HIM SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO! HE CAN’T DIE…!”

Her father took her aside and wiped her tears. “Beta, Olaf was an old dog. He had to die at some point. In fact, he was suffering so much that your mother and I wanted to give him death by injection. But thanks to you, we didn’t have to.”

Nimmi didn’t understand. “What?” she asked, still sobbing.

“Death by injection is like giving him a quick death so as not to make him suffer a slow, painful death. People do that.”

“But Nimmi, your idea of playing fetch was superb. Not only did Olaf forget about his pain, he was happy because you gave him something to look forward to.”

“Even today, you came home, played with him, and see, even in death, he has a smile on his face. You saved him from a bad death, Nimmi.”

That’s when Nimmi realised that death was inevitable, but it can be made more fulfilling. Odd as it sounded in her head, she realised that love had the power to overcome the sadness of death.

She picked up the ball, and gently took her hand from beneath Olaf’s paw. His passing would hurt, but at least she could remember him with this ball – her Last Leaf.

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