It began as it ends, with Africa.
K’s words as we walk away from the little grave. We have chosen a spot high in the hills overlooking Tarifa, the Gibraltar Straits and the African coast. There’s only the one road into Tarifa so this way we will pass her every day, and can say Hi. She won’t be alone.
A few years ago K got a notion to go to Africa and travel overland from Nairobi to Cape Town. It was important to her to get out there and do something for herself that took her outside her comfort zone and to see something of the non-European world. It may partially have been a response to my own travel experiences, which I had possibly mentioned once or twice.
Anyway I wasn’t invited.
Like any enlightened male motivated to nurture his partner in her aspirations and unthreatened by her individuality, I was on the lookout for any opportunities to get her to stick around through emotional blackmail, when one day we were passing a Dublin pet shop and as usual K suggested we go in to “look at the bunnies”. Know this about K – she is educated, erudite, sharp as a needle and an utter, utter sap when it comes to anything with big eyes and fur. Bunnies in particular.
We had been on any number of these window-shopping raids. K usually emerged from them upset in fact. Today, with the relationship and its longevity on my mind something in me snapped and I said that she should pick her bunny and we would get it.
“No, we can’t – we can’t”.
“You’re just trying to stop me from leaving!”.
“No, I’m just trying to make sure you come back”.
It didn’t take much further coercion to get her to point out the bunny she would like, a white and grey flop-ear.
“No, not that one”.
So she pointed at a reddish dwarf rabbit.
“No, not that one either”.
In fact I had already picked Bounce out – she was the most active little thing in the cage. If I had to have a rabbit as a pet at least I could avoid the sleepy, droopy, lobotimised kind. I wanted the manic little thing that was coming right up to the bars to say hi to us, and that is how we found ourselves smuggling her into our no-pets-allowed apartment.
If like me you’ve never even considered getting a rabbit, and can’t imagine bonding with one, try spending three months alone in an apartment with only a bunny for company, wondering if your girlfriend is safe and whether she’s ever coming back. That’ll do it pretty much every time.
K did come back. We have been a little unit of three ever since. Even a lagomorph is quite a commitment. We haven’t been able to go anywhere without finding accommodation for her first. We have had to “bunny-proof” every home we have lived in. Every single night for over three years now my bed time routine has been a matter of getting Bounce to bed in her cage so that she can’t destroy anything else while we sleep and so that she eats and drinks. Every morning the first up releases the lagomorph and refreshes her water.
More from K. Bounce got us here. She was given to us to make something happen. We were going nowhere when she appeared in our lives and now we are, well, somewhere. Her work is done and she has been taken back.
It is a powerful experience, the physical gut-wrench accompanied by a re-emergence of lost memories; episodes along the short life span replay on a spliced loop.
She was beautiful. She was pretty cranky at times it has to be said. She was profoundly disrespectful of my personal property. She was important. Above all she was a joy to us.
We’ll miss her.