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家裡已經有小鸚鵡了,所以我們從沒想過生活中還要有其他動物,譬如:一隻真真正正活蹦亂跳的⋯⋯小狗。而牠,偶然地出現在我們的生命裡,以一種奇妙的方式連結起我們與牠的生活,日日夜夜。牠叫做小松鼠,我們的家人。早晚各一次的散步時間,在大街小巷裡,牠好奇的眼神,充沛精力地冒險在每個陌生的角落;遇見貓、看到狗,牠一定用力奔跑,向前索討一次玩耍的機會。很難想像牠曾經在那個幽暗窄小的樓梯間裡所渡過的時光⋯⋯

文圖/ Story & Picture ─ 林竹君/ Lin Ju-Jiun

 

工作室後巷的盡頭有一扇總是傳出臭味的鐵門。有一天,忠銘偶然看到被鐵鍊拴在門裡一方狹窄樓梯間裡皮包骨的小狗。自從知道鐵門裡面有小狗之後,我經常刻意去看看牠,透過小小的柵欄喊牠,牠勉強拉長脖子上的鐵鍊走到階梯的上方,隔著鐵門、透過柵欄與我對望。在黑黑的樓梯間裡,牠安安靜靜從不吠叫,只是睜大眼睛默默看著我,我卻看不清牠。在連續兩晚的睡夢中,牠坐在陰暗的樓梯上,歪著頭與我對望。第三天早上,我們鼓起勇氣敲門詢問飼養的主人,婦人表明身體不好,已無法再照顧牠,而「小松鼠」是婦人費力才想起的她的名字。

於是,小松鼠就這樣進入我們的生活。為了帶她出門,原本已經擁擠的一天必須想盡辦法騰出空白時間。起初,一直以為是我領著她散步;伴著她那輕快的腳步,我時常進入無盡的想像世界⋯⋯在昏黃燈光的夜晚飄起雨絲,一個站在街角抽煙的男人,讓我彷彿置身電影「阿飛正傳」裡的無盡長夜⋯⋯小松鼠就像個沉默的帶領者,帶我走過一條又一條陌生又熟悉的巷道,想像著下一個轉角的故事。我不知道她是否也在想像些什麼?

有一次散步時,她掙脫了牽繩,在快車道上開心狂奔,聽到一聲碰撞巨響後,就再也看不見她的蹤影。我奔回工作室騎上單車四處尋找,還經過她被撞第二次的事故現場,仍然不見她奔跑的身影,只有滿街的血腳印。兩小時後,我疲累地放棄在街上尋找。正巧口袋裡的手機響起,剛剛留下尋狗資料的寵物醫院告訴我,小松鼠被警察送到醫院。她一見到我馬上就躺到地上,透過她滲淚的雙眼,我感受到生物間無聲溝通的微妙存在,一個脆弱的靈魂正在求救,我從未有過如此奇妙的經驗。那一刻,我忽然懂得雖萬物平等,但人類有責任照顧其他無助的動物。幸好,我跟牠現在又可以繼續巷弄間的想像旅程。

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小松鼠喜歡躺在涼爽的石子地板上,她喜歡有許多狗朋友的公園,她喜歡別人搔癢肚子,她喜歡在陽台玩丟接球遊戲。她不喜歡吹風機的聲音,她害怕家裡的小鸚鵡,她不吃龍鬚菜。我們喜歡每天和她一起的想像之旅,喜歡搔她癢,羨慕她的毫不掩飾、她的隨遇而安、活潑可愛、天真善良。因為她,我們心裡多了掛念。原本,在夢裡靜靜等待的小狗,離開了小小樓梯間,開始了有陽光、有草地,還有家人愛護的新生活。

她是小松鼠,一個不再於夢裡無盡等待,想像鐵門外世界的我親愛的家人。

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The stench emanating from the steel door in the alley behind the studio was stronger than ever. One day, we saw there was an emaciated dog chained up behind the door. When I found out there was a dog there, I went back there often and tried to play with it through the steel bars. The dog would stretch its neck out as far as it could. With a door between us, all we could do was to stare at each other in silence. Although it always looked at me with its eyes, I couldn’t see it very well. For two nights in a row, it appeared in my dream. In my dream, the skinny dog with the despondent face would just look at me while sitting on top of dim lit stairways. On the third day, we mustered up enough courage to inquire the owner about the dog. The lady said due to her deteriorating health, she was unable to take care of it. She had trouble remembering the dog’s name. After several tries, she finally got it right. It was Little Squirrel.

 

This is how Little Squirrel came into our lives. In order to walk her, we had to rearrange our busy schedules. At first, I fantasized about how our walks would be like. I would lead her as she explored the world with her bouncy strides. I would often get lost in my own imagination. Like from a scene from “Alfie”, there I was, a man holding a cigarette while standing in the light drizzle with the sunset as the backdrop. As my faithful guide, Little Squirrel would navigate me to through all those alleys that we have been or haven’t been before.

 

On one of the walks, she broke loose from her leash and ran out to the busy streets. Of all the sudden, I heard a big bang and before I knew, she was nowhere to be found. I immediately hopped on the bike and scoured every corner looking for her. Apart from the bloody paw prints on the streets, there was no trace of her anywhere. After two hours of frantic search and just when I was about to give up, I got a call from the vet telling me the police had taken Little Squirrel to the clinic. The minute she saw me, she fell on the ground from sheer exhaustion. When I saw her teary eyes, for the first time, I experienced the silent communication that takes place among all living creatures. Without words exchanged between us, I felt the weak fragile soul crying out for help. It was a feeling that I have never experienced before. In that very moment, it became clear to me that even though all creatures were created equal, as humans, we have the responsibility to help other helpless animals. Luckily, Little Squirrel is all better and continues to accompany me on my walks as I get lost in my own imaginary world.

 

I love to taking her on my imaginary journeys while rubbing her belly. I wish I was more like her — so genuine, decent, kind and never forgets to make the best out of life. Because of her, we now have one more life to care for. The dog that used only appear in my dream, has left that little cubby hole and entered my world. Her new life outside the steel door now is full of sunshine, grass, and with a family that showers her with unconditional love.

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