“He was a dirty dog like the rest of them,” Ankita said angrily to her Aunt Aurora.

Ankita would attend college in the fall as a freshman and was staying with her aunt for the summer while her mother completed an overseas internship. In the first week Ankita befriended a neighbor boy and soon they were inseparable. So far they’d been dating for two months, and her statement was in response to her aunt asking how their relationship was going.

Aurora instinctively pulled back the blanket on her niece’s statement hoping to help her discover the layers cutting off circulation in her heart space.

In response her aunt told her a story,

“When I was a girl my Mom used to leave me with different people who had permission to punish me if I was disobedient but disobedience doesn’t mean the same thing to people across the board. A woman whose care I was under when I was ten drove to a convenience store, parked and then demanded I get out and steal cigarettes. In those days cigarettes weren’t locked behind the counter like they are now. I was scared so cried and begged her not to make me, but she threatened to hurt me until the fear of her beating me was greater than that of stealing.

The man who worked inside watched me the entire time because I looked suspicious and guilty of course as tears had dried on my face and my eyes were wide as saucers. As I put the cigarettes under my shirt, he screamed out at me, so I dropped them and ran out of the store back to the car to explain to the lady what happened. She’d been watching the entire time so had already seen I’d been caught, so she went into the store as I sat in the passenger seat crying and watching her talk to the man who’d screamed at me. When she returned, she didn’t say a word until we’d arrived back at her home where she gave me the task of pulling a branch from the tree in her front yard, one that she would be satisfied beating me with, so I searched until finding one I’d hoped was acceptable. I remember removing the leaves to rub them over the parts of the branch that weren’t smooth because I didn’t want it to puncture my skin but I’d taken too long because she came behind me to grab the ‘switch’ with such anger that she began hitting me there outside in her front yard. Not a word was said as she threw it on the ground and went back inside. She had a bush on the side of her house that I went to sit by hoping no one saw what happened. I grabbed handfuls of leaves and covered my legs with them to camouflage the blood because seeing the scratches and holes made me want to vomit. I sat there until the blood stopped dripping onto the ground” Aurora finished.

Ankita’s eyes had watered as she listened to the story, and she didn’t know how to respond or why she told it in response to her saying her boyfriend was a dog.

“Thank you for sharing your story, Auntie. I’m so sorry you had that experience. Very sorry,” she said looking down as tears streamed down her face.

“Come, girl. Don’t cry. I don’t tell the story for sadness. I tell it, so you may feel the impact of another’s camera flash experience in the grand quantum of space and time,” Aurora replied.

“I don’t understand what you mean, Auntie,” Ankita said.

“If the story causes tears to rise in your eyes in the listening how do you think it may have impact to the storyteller?” Aurora asked.

Ankita looked away thoughtful for a moment before answering.

“Maybe sad or mad, maybe scared of people or maybe hate trees?” she said shrugging.

“Those are good answers, Ankita. Is there anything of the story that stands out to you, that you question?” her aunt asked.

Ankita looked down to think more. She couldn’t imagine being in such a position herself and wondered why her aunt just didn’t run away from the lady.

“Well, I was just thinking that maybe you couldn’t run away in the car but you could have when you were at her house, right? Why didn’t you run away?”Ankita asked.

“Very good, Ankita. Before I answered I wanted to ask if you remember what you called your boyfriend,” her aunt replied.

“A dirty dog?” Ankita answered not understanding the correlation.

“Yes. A dirty dog and like the others you added. What is the nature of a dog?” her aunt asked.

“A dog dog?” Ankita asked.

“Yes, a dog dog” Aurora answered.

“People refer to them as Man’s Best Friend so maybe loyalty?” Ankita answered.

“Yes, this is true of dog’s nature but also true of all nature. My nature was hidden from me and replaced with the pain my mother operated in until pain became my nature. When pain becomes nature, this is how one learns and expects to be fed.

You asked why I did not run away. The answer is that I was loyal to the nature of pain. You may wonder why your statement has led me to tell you this story. I tell it because you are young and don’t have enough life experience to substantiate a statement that asserts all men are dirty dogs. I tell you because we are all dogs in our nature and when you recognize someone operate counter to nature it is a sign that some portion is hidden. It is not your job to figure out what hides within them or why but rather to find what hides within you and why. We are loving compassionate beings so whenever we operate in speech or action counter to our nature we are hiding something from ourselves. Do you understand?” Aurora asked.

Ankita sighed loudly in confusion. “But he was dirty to me, Auntie. He did things with other girls just last week even though he said I was the only one. I guess I don’t get it,” she answered.

“I’m not suggesting you accept his behavior, Ankita. I’m suggesting you realize his actions are not his nature. I’m suggesting that calling him a dirty dog is also not your nature so that you might see it’s a battle we all fight. Seek to uncover the fullness of your nature in order to pursue a life of operating in alignment with that nature. It will never be easy, and it will not come without fight. I cannot tell you how to choose your relationships. I can ask that you not find prejudice in any living thing that seeks to be fed with what they have been taught to eat.

Although I’m not your mother, I ask that you live a life so close to the nature of love that it has no choice but to nourish others, to be bread to those who believe crumbs are a meal and roses to those who know only the scent of sorrow,” Aurora said.