Sunday, 15 January 2012

A childhood rabbit

Happy New Year to you all! The first post of 2012 is by Yelena Furman - a writer, academic and new mother who lives in Los Angeles but originally hails from Ukraine. It was prompted by an earlier post about an encounter with a rabbit:

A couple of months ago, as I was walking to my car, I saw a rabbit.  This was not a usual occurrence, as this was in a rather industrial part of Los Angeles.  The rabbit, which was black and white, appeared in front of me seemingly out of nowhere and hopped to the grassy part of the curb, where it sat for a few moments and looked around.  I only saw it briefly before I got into the car and went home.

When I was growing up, we had a pet rabbit.  Rather unimaginatively, and without actually having seen Bambi, I named him Thumper.  Thumper was small and brown and lived in a cage in our backyard.

One day, when I came home from school, I noticed that the cage door was unlocked and Thumper wasn’t there.  Somehow, he’d gotten out and was running around somewhere in the backyard.  A panicked phone call to my dad at work – What do I do?  What if I can’t do it? – sent me scurrying on a search for the family pet.  I found him among some rose bushes and tried to reach underneath to get him.  In a moment, he was gone, having scampered away under another rose bush, a dance we repeated several times.  I don’t remember who finally came home and got him back into his cage, but it definitely wasn’t me.

The truth was, I couldn’t get a good grip on him because I didn’t want to hold him.  Partially it was fear of animals – I was afraid of them, including pets, until well into adulthood – and partially something that I can’t quite explain.  When I reached for him, I felt his small furry body quivering in my hands, a mass of pulsating, rhythmic movement, and was overcome with some sensation I do not fully understand but one that rendered me utterly incapable of holding that rabbit.

Decades later, I am still most likely unable to catch rabbits (not that I’ve tried, but I’m assuming).  But I am less afraid, more open to life’s pulsating rhythms, to wrapping my hands around the whole quivering mass. 

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