Photographs in Words 11 – Brown

He must have been very young at the time, as he did not remember exactly when, where and how he had first seen Brown. He remembered the name and, only vaguely, someone locking it up in a room after taking it for a walk.

A was afraid of dogs. He had come to learn they wagged their tails to express friendship, smelt fear, followed people for companionship, took babies under their care and waited by the graves of their owners. He had read of street dogs being described as solemn, sensible, meditative and philosophical.* He now felt they deserved loving homes rather than the harsh life of the streets. But he still was afraid of them.

The dog he feared most was a brown street dog he likened to Brown, which followed him surreptitiously. This Brown was a pack leader, who chased and barked at cars with other dogs. Otherwise it spent much of its time lying just outside a locked garden gate, companion to a black dog which had its home inside.

As he grew older, Brown walked less and stopped following A.  He took shelter in bus stops,  resting his head on the pavement, an unfamiliar look on his face. This look made one think Brown should have another name instead of one just describing his colour.

Several times at the bus stop on the opposite side of the road and once at the same side, A sat down to watch Brown. Also, surreptitiously and at a distance, he followed the dog, who by now could walk only slowly.

One day, for the first time, Brown crossed the boundary of their neighbourhood. A got closer and kept following. He was practically right behind Brown. They were both far away now… Suddenly, Brown stopped. He turned his head back. A had also stopped and was looking at Brown.

The words “Brown – Knight of the Woeful Countenance” slipped out of A’s lips.

The Brown Knight lowered his head and walked slowly on.

Brown was not seen again.

* Claude Farrere, Türklerin Manevi Gücü, Istanbul. (Les Forces Sipirituelles de L’Orient, 1937)

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