By Twyla Lidén
She’d been my favourite from the first day I got there. Not accepted by the group, yet she was the most loving one of all of them. Two days earlier I had decided that I was going to name my first dog after her. She always looked after the ones she loved. I was someone she loved. Now it’s been too long so she won’t remember my face if I ever decide to return. I arrived during the dry season when the water tanks stand empty and you’ll go days without rain, which is ironic since the name ”rainforest” implies differently.
Washing the buckets in the river wasn’t something I found irritating. Every visit to the rushing water was an opportunity to wash off the monkey shit that inevitably would end up on my face.
But the river meant danger as well, large predators live in, near and by the river. She knew that.
I was scraping out the dense mould from the aviary bucket when a small but powerful hand grabbed a hold of my knee. A hand with only four fingers so she could swing effortlessly through the jungle. A hand that had tougher skin than I will ever have. A hand that wanted to protect me as if I was a child of her own. She will never have children. The people that left her on the side of the highway robbed her of that possibility.
She was now sitting on my foot both arms, legs and tail wrapped around my leg. Just the same way I would grab onto my mom when I didn’t want her to leave in the morning. Her face for the first time directed at mine, her eyes for the first time looking straight into mine.
I started crying. I cried because I knew I wasn’t allowed to show her any affection and she wouldn’t understand that it wasn’t her, it was me, I had signed an agreement to comply with the no-touch policy. But we were by the river, all alone, and she was my favourite. So I didn’t yell at her to get off me like I was supposed to. I gave her the time she needed, I let her hug me for as long as she felt necessary. Not just because she could snap my neck and instantly kill me if she
decided to, but I let her embrace me because I needed it.