Overwhelming Joy

One day, after lunch (a time when they both had an hour to themselves), they took a walk with Karenin up the slope behind their cottage.

“I don’t like the way he’s running,” said Tereza.

Karenin was limping on a hind leg. Tomas bent down and carefully felt all along it. Near the hock he found a small bump.

The next day he sat him in the front seat of the pickup and drove, during his rounds, to the neighboring village, where the local veterinarian lived. A week later, he paid him another visit. He came home with the news that Karenin had cancer.

Within three days, Tomas himself, with the vet in attendance, had operated on him. When Tomas brought him home, Karenin had not quite come out of the anesthesia. He lay on the rug next to their bed with his eyes open, whimpering, his thigh shaved bare and the incision and six stitches painfully visible.

At last he tried to stand up. He failed.

Tereza was terrified that he would never walk again.

“Don’t worry,” said Tomas. “He’s still under the anesthetic.”

She tried to pick him up, but he snapped at her. It was the first time he’d ever tried to bite Tereza!

“He doesn’t know who you are,” said Tomas. “He doesn’t recognize you.”

They lifted him onto their bed, where he quickly fell asleep, as did they.

At three o’clock that morning, he suddenly woke them up, wagging his tail and climbing all over them, cuddling up to them, unable to have his fill.

It was the first time he’d ever got them up, too! He had always waited until one of them woke up before he dared jump on them.

But when he suddenly came to in the middle of the night, he could not control himself. Who can tell what distances he covered on his way back? Who knows what phantoms he battled? And now that he was at home with his dear ones, he felt compelled to share his overwhelming joy, a joy of return and rebirth.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

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