Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago my dog died. He was a frisky dachshund about eight and a half years old.

He showed up at our house nameless and before even having marked three months of life. He almost wound up living in Granma Province because my brother, in a xenophobic mood, baptized him with the name that was supposedly telling the puppy to head to the east of the country: “I wanna-go-to-Havana.”

I shortened it to “Yo-quiero” (I-wanna), the name that best fit him since his appetite was limitless. Later, thanks to the natural spoiling these loving creatures compel, my mother abbreviated the name even further to “Yoqui.”

He wasn’t the first canine to die in our house. Prior to him there was another dog that was sick for a long time. I cried a lot, though I felt that his death had freed her from her suffering.

Yoqui, though, was the first being that I saw die. I was deeply moved when I realized how life is so ephemeral. Still, the certainty of our vulnerability makes me enjoy the present, especially the people I care about.

My friend (undoubtedly he was) emanated life in every way. Three days before his death he ran to the bakery, ate wildly, barked at anyone who walked past him, and tried to jump up on a bicycle with me.

He was weakened by a parasite that likes to feed on red blood corpuscles, which triggered a profound anemia that only worsened – despite the constant care of a veterinarian.

Needless to say, neither state-run nor private clinical laboratories are readily available for veterinaries out here in the suburbs. They make use of their experience and not the results of analysis when it comes to making their diagnoses. Nevertheless they do the best they can, though they can’t do transfusions (where would they get the blood?).

The Carlos III Clinic, in Centro Havana, is the vet facility closest to my neighborhood. There, they usually give good treatment though (like at many places) the workers aren’t always in good moods nor have all the resources they need to treat their four-legged patients.

The veterinary doctor who attended us was going around collecting money from everyone there to fix the clinic’s bathroom, while at the same time treating a Belgian Shepherd that was in as bad a condition as Yoqui. The stench overran his office, the closest one to the toilet. Nor could they perform blood transfusions, though they had some antibiotics and vitamins.

Since it’s no use thinking about what I should have done but couldn’t, I tried to forget these last three days. It’s easy, since I have so many other memories of Yoqui, mostly happy ones. But occasionally his sad eyes and drooping ears will return to my mind and I’ll think of the irony that accompanied his end: he — who was so uncontainable — suddenly lost his spirit to either walk or eat and ended up with no appetite.

We buried him near our house, in one of his favorite places.

I read a poem by Miguel de Unamuno several years ago which came to mind. Back then I didn’t really get it, but it came back to me with the passing of Yoqui. The poet wonders, like me, if he’ll even find his dog again:

There, in the other world,
your soul, poor dog,
Won’t you have to lay your spiritual head
on my lap again?
Won’t the tongue of your soul, poor friend,
lick the hand of my soul?
The other world!
The other… the other and not this one!
(…)
The other world is of pure spirit!
Of pure spirit!
Oh, terrible purity,
inanity, emptiness!
Won’t I come back to find you, gentle friend?
Will you be there as a memory,
A pure memory?
And this memory,
will it run down my eyes?
Won’t it jump, wag its tail with joy
hold its tail erect?
Won’t it lick the hand of my spirit?
Won’t it look in my eyes?
That memory,
won’t it be you, yourself,
free, experiencing eternal life?


Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

4 thoughts on “Requiem for My Friend Yoqui

  • A qoute by Marjorie Garber…”If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness”.
    Irina, I hope someday you’ll find another little friend like Yoqui as they need friends just like you.

  • So sad, Irina. Yoqui sounds a real character and a lovely dog. He had a very good life with you and and your kind family.

  • Te vi llorando suavemente mientras miraba a través de fotografías
    Se detuvo un momento en el que te hizo reír;
    Pero a medida que se volvió más páginas que las lágrimas comenzaron a fluir
    Se murmura que usted me extrañaba, pero quiero que sepas;
    Me lamió suavemente las lágrimas que pican por tus mejillas estaban comprendidos
    Quiero ayudar a entender que no han dejado nada.
    En esos días que se superan con la tristeza, el dolor y la pena
    Apoyo la cabeza en la pierna para ofrecer algo de alivio.
    Al tomar nuestro camino a pie que he visto te das la vuelta
    Porque sé que seguramente escuchó mis patas en el suelo.
    Por la noche mientras usted está durmiendo me acurrucarse a su lado
    Usted acariciar mi piel al tocar el lugar donde solía mentir.
    Usted dice que es sólo sus trucos corazón jugando con tu mente
    Pero ten por seguro que estoy realmente allí, mi espíritu se queda atrás.
    Sé que tu corazón está herido, es como una herida abierta
    ¿Crees que mi vida ha terminado y usted no me verá más.
    Pero para aquellos de nosotros atado apretado por el amor, la muerte no es la llamada de la cortina;
    En realidad es el principio eterno que nos espera todo
    Así que, queridos Irina como vives tu vida que pacientemente esperan
    Para que podamos estar juntos cuando se pasa a través de la puerta del cielo.

  • I’m sorry for your loss Irina. It sounds like Yoqui was a good friend.

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