Monday, May 11, 2009
My Faithful Dog Sharik by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
When the afternoon's work was over, and I returned to the prison in the evening, weary and exhausted, a terrible feeling of anguish once again overcame me. ' How many thousands of days like this one still lie ahead of me', I thought, 'all of them like this one, all of them the same'. When it was already getting dark, I was wandering silently and alone behind the barracks, following the line of the prison fence. Suddenly, I saw our dog Sharik running towards me.
Sharik was our prison mascot, just as there are regimental mascots, battery and squadron mascots. The dog lived in the prison longer than anyone could remember, belonged to no one, considered everyone his owner and was fed on scraps from the kitchen. He was quite a large dog, black with white spots, a mongrel, not very old, with intelligent eyes and a fluffy tail. No one ever fondled him or paid him the slightest attention. From my first day, I stroked him and gave him bread out of my hand. When I stroked him he would stand quietly and look at me affectionately, gently wagging his tail as a sign of pleasure.
Now, not having seen me, the first person to fondle him in several years, for a long time, he had been running around looking for me among all the other convicts, and finding me behind the barracks came rushing towards me with a yelp of joy.
I don't know what came over me, but I rushed forwards and kissed him, throwing my arms around his head; in one running leap he placed his forepaws on my shoulders and began to lick my face. 'So this is the friend that has been sent to me by fate', I thought, and every time I returned from work during those early sombre days, the first thing I did, before going anywhere else, was to hurry behind the barracks with Sharik jumping up in front of me, yelping with delight, embrace his head and kiss it again and again, while a sweet yet agonizing bitter sensation gnawed at my heart. And I remember that I would derive great satisfaction from the thought- as though taking pride in my own agony of spirit- that there was in the whole world left to me only one creature that loved me, that was devoted to me, my friend, my only friend- my faithful dog Sharik.
-The House of the Dead- (1860)