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The Dog

July 12th, 2011
Versione Italiano

It was  my birthday week.  I was ten years old.  Papa and Mama bought me a nice cake.  I wanted a bicycle, but Papa said it was too dear, all our money had to go to Mama’s medicines.  That’s okay.

The day after my birthday,  I was walking around in the streets.  All the other kids were in school.  I wish I could go to school, but Papa says they won’t let me, because I wasn’t born here.

An old shaggy dog was following me.  No matter where I went, how many turns I made, the dog was a few steps behind me.  I walked home, and the dog followed me there.

“Mama,” I said, “Look who just joined our family.”

Mama was lying on the cot. “Jupe,” said Mama, “take that dog outside, it’s all dirty.”

“But can he stay with us?”

“We’ll see.  We’ll ask your father.”

Papa was out,  looking for work.  So I took the dog outside.  I called the dog  Bianco, because his hair was long and shaggy and dirty white.

Bianco followed me down to the river, where the women went to wash their bed linens.  I coaxed Bianco into the soapy water, and washed him all over. We got out of the river, and Bianco shook himself all over me.

I combed Bianco’s coat with my fingers, and pretty soon it was dry, and smooth, and silky.  Bianco had bright, brown eyes, almost golden.  I thought he was smiling at me.

We went to the market, and I begged for some meat scraps. I said it was for me, but we went around the corner, and I gave it to Bianco. Bianco ate it right up.

We went back to our home.  Papa was there.  Be quiet, he said, your mama is resting.  You can keep the dog, he said, but you have to feed him and take care of him.  I told him about the meat scraps, and he said okay.

From then on I took care of Bianco, and he slept next to me, on my pad on the floor in the corner. Every day we would go to the market, and I’d beg some food.  Bianco would eat anything, almost!  Even potatoes!

One day Bianco and I went for a walk outside the city, up into the hills.  We walked and we walked.  Suddently I didn’t know where we were.  I was lost.

“Bianco, we’re lost,” I said.  He looked up at me with his bright eyes, and cocked his head as if to say, “You really think so?”

“Do you know the way, Bianco?” I said.  “Bianco, go home!  Go home, Bianco!”

Then he turned and trottted down the hill.  I followed Bianco, and he led me right back to the city and to our house.  Bianco’s eyes are bright and his coat is white, like lights.

One day Bianco and I came home, and Papa was there, with some neighbors, and Papa said, “Jupe, I’m sorry.  Your mama has died.”

Bianco and I cried for a long time.

Soon after Mama died, Papa said, “We have to go now, Jupe.  They won’t let us stay here.”

“But why?” I asked.

“We are not from this land.  Here they do not want strangers to live. We must go away, before they find us and put us in jail.”

I did not want to go.  But Papa said we must. That evening, he packed what we had into a big suitcase. “It’s time to go,” he said.

“Okay,” I said, “come on, Bianco.”

“No, Jupe,” said Papa, “Bianco can’t come with us.  We have to leave him here.”

“But who will take care of Bianco?” I cried.

“I know what to do,” said Papa.

So we went out of the house in the middle of the night so they wouldn’t find us, and walked  to the far side of the city, onto the great bridge across the river. In the middle of the bridge, Papa said, “Take this cord, Jupe,  and put it around Bianco’s neck.  We’ll tie it to the railing.  Here in the center of the bridge, surely some nice person will see Bianco, and adopt him just as you did.”

So I tied Bianco to the railing of the bridge.  I hugged Bianco.  Bianco looked up at me with his golden bright eyes.  I cried.

It was almost dawn.  We had to leave.  I said goodbye to Bianco, and Papa and I walked away.  “Don’t look back, Jupe,”  said Papa, “we must keep going.

I hope Bianco is happy with his nice new family.


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