There is something magical about that hour before dawn. The skies are streaked with an inner glow; the silence striated only by bird calls and the rustling leaves of the avocado trees that overlook the windows of my study.
It is near perfect, that hour, and texturally similar to the moment when the lights go off in a movie theater and the screen comes alive.
A reined in excitement; a burgeoning anticipation and a shiver of delight that the next minutes will be spent in a world far removed from our real one.
Nevertheless, every morning when the alarm rings, my first impulse is to put it off and snuggle under the bed clothes. But from the corner of the room, Sugar makes a noise almost as if she is clearing her throat to remind me: wakie wakie. So I do. Or, she is bound to move into a high keening note next.
She waits patiently outside the bathroom door as I splash sleep out of my eyes. And then the two of us pad into my study. Sugar goes to the window and gazes out. I join her there briefly and then we take our assigned places. I, at my desk, and she at my feet.
For the nine years, Sugar my Labrador retriever has been with me, she has been part of my early morning writing.
At that hour, I discover I can shed my reality and step into the skins of my characters with an almost frightening natural ease. Their joys and sorrows become mine; their triumphs and failures seem more real than mine.
If I wrote gentle sunny books, it may have been not such a bad proposition. But at times the internal lives of my characters are not exactly sylvan glades. And so when I have written a disturbing or distressing segment, of its own volition, my foot gropes for the reassuring presence of Sugar. Sometimes I go to sit by her on the rug and put her snout on my knee. Sometimes I lean and hug her as tightly as I can. And Sugar nuzzles deeper into my embrace. That alone comforts me and heals the searing wounds I have left on my spirit with my own hand.
A couple of hours later when my husband wakes up and goes downstairs, Sugar rises to follow him. At the stable doors of the study, she pauses to gives me a look to say: I have to go and take that man for a walk. Will you be alright on your own now? Though I would recommend that you follow me down the stairs, give me a snack – a handful of almonds or doggie treats – seriously I am not fussy at all, and get breakfast going…all this writing thing is fine but we got to do what we got to do!
I sigh and put down my pen. She has a point, I realize. With one tilt of her head, Sugar takes me back to the redeeming reality of my every day. Without which there would be no books or a writerly life…Or, any point to any of this.
PS: Sugar has a definite voice of her own. To read more about what she thinks on and off, do visit http://sugardogblog.blogspot.in/
Anita Nair is the author of five works of fiction: Satyr of the Subway & Eleven Other Stories, The Better Man, Ladies Coupé, Mistress and Lessons in Forgetting; a collection of essays: Goodnight & God Bless; a collection of poems: Malabar Mind; and has editedWhere the Rain is Born: Writings about Kerala. Nair has also written four books for children and two plays Nine Faces of Being and A Twist of Lime. She has also translated Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai’s Chemmeen into English.