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Hachiko

I don’t think I have ever seen a movie that made me cry this much, or made me feel this helpless sitting on the other side of the screen and frustrated at not being able to do a thing about it. Nor have I ever heard myself cry and sob out so loudly with gut wrenching sadness while watching a movie either….feeling for Hachi, and at times feeling like a scum, almost like a traitor keeping a secret, that I knew what happened to his master all this time…and keeping it from him. The movie was so real, I was experiencing these emotions as if I were watching it happen, and very few movies allows the audience that privilege.

Many were the times I almost reached out to Hachiko wanting to gather him into a hug and talk to him, comfort him and do something to give him some closure.

This true life story has an unbelievable amount of depth and told with a poignancy that takes ones breath away. “Incroyable”! And my heart goes out to this beautiful Akita who went on to become Japan’s national symbol of loyalty.

I remember it like it was yesterday, my mum and dad used to tell us about the story of Hachi when my sister and I were little and that a statue was erected in his honor in front of the Shibuya railway station. It used to be such a heart warming story when I was a kid. But never in a million years would I have thought that seeing this real life story in reel form would bring out this kind of reaction in me.

Hachiko's first attempt to follow his master

If Hachi’s eyes and loyalty weren’t enough to melt one’s heart, the score of the movie sure will. The music was so beautiful I could cry all over again.

Hachi with his master

There are moments in this movie that only a dog parent can appreciate, the ones that brought some smiles were when Hachiko destroys the child’s home work, and Richard Gere trying to teach ‘Fetch’ to Hachi, and my personal favourite when Joan Allen says – ‘the dog’s already taken…I’m sorry’ making the decision when she sees her husband and daughter bond over the orphaned bundle of joy. And two of the most emotional moments in the film were when Hachi comes the next day to the station not knowing his master had passed away and waiting for him as faithful as ever, and an even more powerful scene is when Joan Allen sees Hachi after 10 years and she says – ‘You are still waiting for him aren’t you? Can I wait with you till the next train?”. The film is fully punctuated with heart warming moments and kind-hearted gestures of people acknowledging Hachi – be it the train station agent and hot dog seller caring for Hachi or people who came to know about Hachi sending donations to take care of Hachi. Richard Gere was so natural, I don’t think it was an act, the rapport he had with the on-screen Hachi felt real. And Joan Allen had given such a powerful and memorable performance as well.

Hachi waiting for his master

This movie is not one of those movies that has a lot of crying in it but one that would make a viewer cry and feel emotions so pure that it is so foreign to humans. This is because we see some of the story play out through Hachi’s eyes. Unpolluted!

You will not cry out of sadness, but this story evokes a cry of respect, a cry of happiness, a cry of affection, a cry of longing, and most of all a cry honoring loyalty in its purest form.

I have always believed that no two dogs are the same, and I sure wasn’t expecting my pawed son to be as emotionally attached to me like Hachiko was to his master nor would I expect him to be like him. But surprised I was during the film, when I was smothered in a shower of wet sloppy kisses and licks from my own pawed son when he woke from his deep slumber to find his mum sobbing loudly over a movie. He fretted and fussed over me for a few minutes that put a smile to my face amidst those tears.

This movie and story has given me a fresh lease of love and devotion towards our pawed companions. And I have come to a conclusion that every dog shows its love in its own way. They express their emotions in the form of Loyalty, hugs, licks, following us around, by coming to our defence etc….but the most priceless of all, and the one thing that says it all – is the ‘wag of a tail’ and that which can’t be bought.

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