The first neighbour I had in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was a fat, little, yippy Chihuahua.
At the time I was reading my favourite book Call of the Wild, by my favourite author Jack London. I decided to get back into creative writing. I took London’s writing style and adapted his book into an adventure story featuring my Chihuahua friend next door.
This is the first chapter.
Call of Saigon: Chapter One
It was another hot and bothersome April’s day in Saigon, the warmest month of the year truly living up to its name. The double-doors of houses casually sat spread open; being a much cheaper and communal alternative to air-conditioning. The people living inside leisurely poked in and out of their doorways, flitting between gossiping with quick-lipped neighbours to sitting intently transfixed on zany gameshows. Life flowed in and out of those double doors as air through a canyon; moving in all directions and pulled by beguiling forces.
One unlikely creature sat astride one particular set of doorways, stoic against the push and pull of the people around it.
Su lay on her belly, dazing out of her doorway with an air of perpetual contentment. Her head lolled to one side, poking itself out of the shade to be warmed by the sunlight. Not that there was much head to warm in the first place. As big as Chihuahuas come Su was certainly not amongst the biggest.
Her miniature stature was perfect for the family who adopted her. It allowed them to take her up in their arms and offer sweet caresses, tease her with the odd plaything (knowing that such a small dog’s bite does not have quite as much force or reach as others), and it allowed them to keep Su a reasonably happy pet in the sort of house and city that weren’t designed with dogs in mind.
Su was content with her situation and lived a a comfortable, albeit sheltered existence with a Vietnamese family in the midst of a quiet alleyway. This alleyway was Su’s world and she knew little of the roaring traffic and chaos of the city just around the corner.
Dozing at her doorway, Su laid like an oblivious receptionist, choosing not to heed the entrance and exit of the house’s residents. She was far too comfortable for that.
Yet like the most comfortable receptionists, Su was beginning to get a little bit fat and a little more lazy. With no space to run around and chase things, and no opportunities to be taken for walks, Su missed out on the benefits and pleasures of exercise that is the right of all dogs. Her natural vivacity was being churned into complacency, the butter of which found itself squished into her now chubby tummy.
Not to say this was any of Su’s fault. Her owners, whilst loving of their pet, had little experience caring for dogs in their family. Domesticated dogs were at this time a feature of rising popularity in Vietnam, with the modern capital of Saigon leading the way in such fashions. As such, Su’s basic needs as an animal were met but comprised for the sake of novelty. And so Su lavished in the luxury of a soft bed, a generous supply of food, and ample pets and caresses that made her feel part of the family; but lacked discipline, exercise and a crucial sense of self-sufficiency.
This day Su adorned a twee lilac cardigan with a hot pink trim. Her owners fancied her as part baby and part plaything, and so didn’t hesitate in occasionally parading Su about in such attire. It had the effect of giving her the appearance of a tiny, hairy librarian, with a profound belly snugly hugging the cardigan around her. And so she lay at her doorway a sigil of domestication, preoccupied with napping and snoozing.
Yet this day was the day that Su’s leisurely life was all of a sudden interrupted in the place of adventure.
Stay tuned for Chapter Two.
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