By David L. Rosenthal
My Dear Brother Pedro,
Please forgive me for contacting you in this manner, rather than coming to see you in person, but circumstances prevented me from doing what I certainly would have preferred. Believe me, brother, that I am telling you the truth, and that I am not making up excuses or stories to deceive you. You know that it is said that the truth is stranger than fiction; that which precluded any possibility of my seeing you before my departure was unforeseeable to me, but in retrospect, perhaps inevitable.
Do not be sad, brother, because I had to go. It is our destiny to die and you will follow me sooner or later. Do not worry about me at all, as I am in good hands. My only concern, at this moment, is for my little Bamba, whom I left behind without a home. I can see from here that my neighbors are feeding him table scraps, so that Bamba is not hungry, but he needs a good home, a family to love him and to take care of him, not to be left alone to fend for himself on the cold streets, where vicious dogs and mean children abuse him at every turn.
You never met Bamba, brother. I had intended to bring him with me next month, when I hoped to visit you in San Miguel. You would have loved him. He is very unusual for a Chihuahua, very calm and gentle, and also very gregarious and personable. He is a tiny thing without hair, white like the milk of a goat, and with ears as big and soft as rose petals. It only takes a minute to bathe him. And he fits snugly into my overturned sombrero. I really never wanted to have a dog with me, but when I met Bamba, I had no choice but to keep him. He stared into my eyes with such affection and interest that I could not say No to him. And now I have abandoned him as suddenly as I had to leave you. My heart is breaking, because I know that you can understand why I left, but that Bamba cannot understand.
I don’t know what they told you about my death, brother. I think that the men who killed me must have been confused, not bad men, but confused about me, and they must have thought that I was someone else. I think that they must have been looking for someone else, and killed me by mistake. I am sure that by now they have realized what a terrible mistake they have made, but for me it is too late. I am fine here, as I have already said, but I just hope you received the truth about me. They were confused, and perhaps they are still. I am still not exactly clear about all the details, but I will tell you what I remember about the end.
Bamba is almost a perfect dog, Pedro, a great companion and always very amusing, always pleasant, and a good friend. But I worried about him sometimes. He occasionally would roam around by himself for many hours, during which he would be exposed to many dangers, since he is so small and defenseless. He always returned home again, happy and pleased to see me. So, on my last day, when he had not come home for several hours, I tried to reassure myself, since he had always come home before. But finally came dusk, and Houston at night is not safe for a little Chihuahua, especially not for one so humane as my little Bamba. So when darkness fell, I put on my poncho and sombrero and I went out to look for him. I was so worried that I could not just sit quietly and wait for him to come home.
At first I stayed calm, as I walked along the streets and avenues, asking people whether they had seen Bamba. Probably more than an hour passed, as I stopped at every café and cantina along the Downtown River District to ask whether Bamba had been there recently. I knew that he liked to stroll by the water, listening to the music and conversations, and sometimes chasing the seagulls and pigeons. But not one person had seen Bamba, and many of the people reacted strangely, opening their eyes widely and gasping, as though I had slapped them. People can be so strange, Pedro.
After a while, I am afraid that I started to panic, imagining all kinds of evil possibilities that could have happened to my dear Bamba. I lost my composure, and began to run down every street, calling out loud for Bamba. I ran everywhere, asking everyone, but all the people began to run away from me. I don’t know why. It was getting late, so maybe they were in a rush to get home, but they did not have to be so discourteous.
By then I was truly disconcerted, desperate, sweating, and beginning to become exhausted. But I did not want to give up. I began to scream and to cry for Bamba. Over and over I called out, as loud as I could, “Baaaaaaaaammmmbba!!!”
Suddenly, I was surrounded by a crowd of uniformed men, all of them pointing weapons at me! I thought that they were crazy, Pedro! They shouted at me to put my hands up, so I did. I put my hands as high into the air as I could, I swear it. But why did they point all those guns at me? Brother, I think that the people in this country are losing their minds, when dozens of them threaten an unarmed man like myself, who would not harm even a cockroach. What has come over them? Only God knows.
Well, there I stood, in the middle of that angry mob of armed men, when suddenly, right at the edge of the crowd, appears my little dog! I was so relieved and happy to see him that my face transformed from one of anxiety and tears to a matchlessly beaming smile of joy! I extended my arms to him and cried out, “Bamba!!” The explosions that followed are my last memory on Earth.
I know, brother, that no sane person could ever understand why that happened to me. But I am content where I am now, so I no longer wonder much about it. I just worry still about Bamba.
So I implore you, Pedrito, do not leave Bamba in Houston, to roam the streets without a home. He is so good. It is not right to let such a good creature suffer such abuse at the hands of a barbaric people. Find Bamba and take him home with you to San Miguel, where people will understand and appreciate him, where he can be safe, and among those who are like himself.
Do this last thing for me, brother. The United States is no place for a wonderful dog like my Bamba.
Mil gracias, Pedro. Que Dios te bendiga.
– The End –