She scans every passing stranger, without exception. She frowns as she looks up at them with tired, sorry eyes. Her countenance is an epitome of her struggle for survival.
Lately, she seems absorbed in perpetual angst. Her duties as a mother have been excruciating. With life on the streets and 3 mouths to feed, every last morsel and every sliver of hope counts. She has to find new ways and new places to gather food.
Meanwhile, the kids jump around playfully. Nudging, pushing, shoving. Jovial brawls are commonplace, but they should’ve known better than to piss off their mom with them. They remain oblivious to her struggle and she remains detached from their fun.
It’s way past their bedtime; the streets were crowded today. All the 3 huddle together, tired after their brawls. They push, they nudge, they shove again, in an attempt to get comfortable.
They cuddle during sleep to stay close for warmth and look adorable while doing so. Loads of cuteness cramped into a small space. But only their mother sees, their chest heave to reveal their ribs, announcing the fragility of their bodies.
So she’s watching out for them, hoping that people won’t attack. Safety of her kids supersedes her will to fight. Motherhood has made her more controlled and patient.
It’s an act of eternal preparation. Preparation for a better future. A future that never comes. A preparation that never ends. But it leaves her with no choice. She cannot turn her back on a battle she didn’t pick.
She howls into the night, her sound breaking the silence of the streets. She has to spend yet another sleepless night staying vigilant, as her pups rest assured. Care-free and innocent.