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The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Personal Column: Saying goodbye

Aparna Jotwani
Me and Kriska sitting outside on a pretty day

How do you say goodbye to your childhood friend?

That’s what I asked myself standing outside my quiet home after 18 hours of traveling. The air was silent and devoid of the familiar barks I called home, the walkway bare of the one friend who was always waiting for me when I got home. I was too scared to go inside and see an empty dog bed. It was one of those times when even social media wasn’t distracting enough to avoid a head full of thoughts. 

My dog Kriska Zane Jotwani passed away on Jan. 4, 2024. He was 13 years old, happy, and healthy before my family and I traveled to India for the first time. So, on the other side of the world, we got the call. 

I think when you hear something like that you can’t even process it at first. I started crying but I didn’t know what I was crying about. When was the last time I pet him? We have too many toys for one dog. Sunny lost his brother. He doesn’t like getting haircuts without him. Did I submit my last college supplement? I’m so tired. Kriska was probably tired too. How is he gone?? How is anything supposed to matter after this?? All I could do was sit still. I was frozen in time and space. 

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We called my neighbor and asked her to Facetime us from our house. When I saw him he looked so… peaceful. He looked like he was sleeping. Part of me hoped he was really just sleeping and that the dog sitter took the pulse wrong. 

 The remainder of my vacation was a blur: I honestly didn’t even want to think about Kriska most of the time because I was supposed to be having fun, and I felt so separated from life in Houston. The first time I used a past tense word for him wasn’t just a stab to my heart, but I genuinely could not process what had happened. Even when we said a final goodbye at the vet three days later it felt wrong.

This brings me back to my question, how do you say goodbye to a childhood friend? 

I wanted to start by recalling a few of my favorite memories with Kriska.

His Name

Kriska as a puppy (Bela Jotwani)

I named Kriska when we got him, I think I must have been about four. I had a talking globe and the India button was orange with a picture of Krisha on it. However, when we were making the dog tag, I forgot the name Krisha, so Krishna became Kriska. My parents looked up the name and it had no definition, and to this day I can’t exactly tell where Kriska came from. But Kriska was always Kriska, and now I couldn’t imagine him as anything else.

Like me, he had black curly hair, and like me at the time, he was quiet and relaxed. Although I won’t pretend that I remember my exact thoughts when we brought him home, I remember I was so excited we finally had a dog.

Road Trips

Kriska was a good car dog. When my family moved all the way from Indiana to Houston, he drove with us in the car the entire way. 

The first memory I remember was saying goodbye to my house in Indianapolis. my brother, Kriska, and I were squished into the back seats, and I was waving to my old house, knowing I’d miss the memories I made there. Then, of course, I smelled Kriska’s breath.

I realized this was going to be a long car ride. 

But at the same time, I appreciated the comfort. I was ready for the next chapter of my life to begin, and even though Kriska’s butt was squishing me, I was content to be with my family. 

Years later, during COVID, we made a similar journey from Houston to Chicago. Kriska was probably 8-9 years old at the time, and so this journey was noticeably harder for him. He was never one to stick his head out the window, but he did enjoy putting it on the air conditioning vents. 

Whenever the air conditioning suddenly changed in the car, my brother and I groaned and looked at the dog, who was dog-smiling and panting loudly.

When we finally got to my grandparent’s house in Chicago, Kriska jumped out of the car but walked slowly towards the house. After he said hi to all the cousins and family, he collapsed on the floor and didn’t move for an hour. Me and my cousin put blankets on him, and of course, my nightmares of him dying were rushing through my head. Though, I thought, at least we’re with him if anything happens. 

Late Night Study Sessions

I clutched his collar, “You can do it Kriska, you’ve got this.”

After gingerly putting his paw down the first step, he moved his back legs, remembered to move his front legs, and before he knew it he had made a coordinated walking motion. I held his collar all the way up the stairs until he made the last one and looked at me as if he were saying “Thank you.” Then he trotted off to bed.  

As a true Carnegie student, staying up late is a part of the experience. I feel like every week I am aged an entire year before the weekend comes. Kriska was getting old too. He was healthy, but he developed arthritis which made it hard for him to walk long distances. Someone had to hold his collar, every night, to make him feel safe enough to climb the stairs. 

But, he was the kind of dog who never wanted to leave anyone alone. He always wanted everyone to be together and wasn’t about to leave anyone behind.

Kriska resting after he went on a walk (Bela Jotwani)

Every night starting junior year, after being thoroughly exhausted from a long day’s work, Kriska waited outside the door while I was studying. Sometimes he was panting loudly, sometimes he was sleeping. But every night when I came out to greet him his tongue hung out of his mouth excitedly, finally it was bedtime.

I clutched his collar, “Come on Kriska you’ve got this…”

Some nights, I’d get lonely or paranoid and shut all the windows in case someone tried to rob our house in the middle of the night (don’t ask me to explain I have no idea where it comes from). Those days, I’d look out into the hallway and I’d see Kriska there, waiting for me. Part of me was immediately worried about how I could protect him if anything happened, and the other part of me thought “thank god I’m not alone down here” 

Although this doesn’t seem like much, I feel like I connected to Kriska with this simple action as I got busier and busier with school. It was nice to know that someone was thinking about me late at night and that I was being waited on. Now that he’s gone, and I walk up the stairs alone at night, I miss him. I hope some kind girl is helping him up the stairs in doggy heaven.

Saying goodbye

The thing about goodbyes is that in a way I think they’re kind of stupid. Saying goodbye to someone forever is like thinking that you’ll never think of them or remember them. Like saying goodbye means you’re leaving them behind and you’re moving on. 

Well, I don’t think I want to move on, I want to remember.

Our pets are always such an important part of our lives. Maybe they “teach responsibility” or “try to get kids to work hard at something,” but really, dogs teach heart. Dogs teach you that you deserve to be loved unconditionally and that there will always be someone in the world who loves you. 

Part of me regrets ever setting foot in India, and part of me feels guilty for leaving him alone to pass on. 

The other part of me, which will surprise you, is thinking about physics. 

In physics, we learn how gravity pulls on every object in the universe. Your heart pulls on your organs as well as the planet Saturn. My dog chewed on his toy while weakly attracting the dog across the street.

In a way, that is how love works.

Love connects us to everything we have ever touched or known. Kriska touched my heart and my family forever, and he will always be a part of it. So even as I graduate high school and leave my home behind, I know I’ll always be connected to him. 

Just because Kriska left this world, doesn’t mean I’m really saying goodbye. I carry a part of him with me, taking his company, lessons, and memories with me and impacting others with all I know. My dog is going to be my family forever.

So not goodbye, Kriska. I love you now and forever.

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About the Contributor
Bela Jotwani
Bela Jotwani, Staff Writer
Bela Jotwani is a senior at Carnegie Vanguard. When not hitting the books, Bela can be found exploring the city's eclectic coffee and boba shops, curating the perfect playlist for every occasion. She’s an avid fan of "Heartstopper" and "Brooklyn 99," and her creative writing talents shine as an ENFP personality who loves to craft imaginative stories.
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