“Your presence in my life is like a room filled with lamps. When you’re gone, the brightest, the prettiest one will go out. And leave behind the half-light of unclear shadows.”
YOU could almost hear John Donne speaking so reverently and adoringly to his lover in endearing terms.
Metaphysics. This eulogy is full of love and sadly, a lot of heartache. It is written beautifully in such a poetic style to help us to empathise with the author over a difficult three day period in which his pet died.
For animal lovers, attached to their pets it will be easy to identify with the emotional horror of seeing a sick animal dying, being helpless to do anything other than watch the angel of death end his suffering: “I knew I would stay with you until the end, that we would spend life together.”
It began for Marcel, nicknamed Pipo when “the air was screaming with a siren alarm” with the rocket attacks in Zagreb when the kitten was discarded and unwanted, “sentenced to death immediately after birth.” Marcel and his siblings were tormented by local thugs who poured water over the kittens to kill them. Fortunately, there were animal lovers and the kittens were rescued. Jan became infatuated with this beautiful little ball of fur who gave him pleasure and amusement for 14 years 8 months and 27 days. Marcel united the family and gave meaning to Jan’s life. He eulogises Marcel’s worth using a string of meaningful words that perhaps you would associate with the best of mankind, words ranging from incorruptibility to benevolence to purity. Hyperbole like Donne or simple adulation? After all there is a natural affinity between man and beast.
It is April, photos are taken, fond memories are reflected on as one very sick animal drifts inevitably to his final curtain and so doing, Jan states that the world will lose its colour and “darken like the land of Mordar.” Jan fell apart; he felt as if he had killed his precious animal and was left feeling guilty and full of remorse. His mother, also devastated like his father, pestered the author to write about Marcel so that his memory would live on through the power of his own writing. He certainly succeeded in doing that. Interesting, Jan decided to write two endings to this true story: one genuine, the other fictional.
Review by Carol Naylor
Publisher: Bernard Jan