The Life Story of a Stray Dog
From my Creative Writing Archives
One of my poignant dog stories
I love these bubbly walks with my father, there is so much to see, so much to play, so much to sniff – and soon my father will let me off the leash and play chase-chase with me on the sandy ground near the river.
The real estate agent pauses, puts his arm around my brother’s shoulder and says, “Talk to your father, your mother – convince them. If they don’t like Deccan, they can choose an apartment from any of our projects – Kondhwa, Kalyani Nagar, Baner, Kothrud – wherever you want – but I am telling you there is nothing to beat Deccan – it’s impossible to get a place there now-a-days!”
We all lay wallowing in the rubbish, and one day they suddenly came to collect the garbage and took away all my brothers and sisters in the garbage truck and somehow they left me behind, and I lay helpless and frightened, wondering what was going to be my destiny, when suddenly I found a tough-looking bearded man staring at me.
Shivering with fear I looked back at him in terror as he extended his hands towards me.
But the moment he held me in his large cozy hands, caressed me lovingly, and put his finger tenderly in my mouth, I felt snug, warm, loved, safe and secure.
This was my new father and he had already decided my name – Moti – the name of his canine ‘son’ who had passed away a few days ago.
He made a nice warm bed for me in a basket and put it below his own bed. And as I drifted into sleep, he gently fondled me with his hands.
I felt so wonderful, safe, comfortable and happy for the first time in my life.
I love my family; I love my house, and I love the wonderful life I live.
He grunts and growls and opens his sleepy eyes, and the moment he sees me his face lights up and he lovingly caresses me and says, “Good Morning, Moti,” gets up from bed and opens the main door to let me jump out into the garden, do my ‘little job’ at my favorite place near the mango tree, generally dig in the soft morning mud a bit and sniff around to find out if there are any new morning smells, not forgetting to run and welcome the milkman the moment he comes on his cycle.
She pats and cuddles me and goes about her business making tea in the kitchen while I loiter around the house.
She surreptitiously sneaks to the bedroom and slyly hands over a tidbit to my half-asleep father under the blanket when she thinks I am not looking.
I pretend not to notice, as I do not want to spoil their fun. Earlier, when I was small and impatient, I used to snuffle out the tidbit from my father’s hand, but this spoilt his fun and he became grumpy, and now that I am a mature young girl well experienced in the ways of the human world I have realized that it is better for us dogs to act dumb and let these humans think they are smarter than us.
So I go outside, sit down and put on a look of anticipation towards the gate and pretend not to notice my mother hiding and peeping through the corner of the window and giggling to herself.
My brother and my sister, who till now were fast asleep in the other room, call out my name, and as I dart between their beds wagging my tail, they both hug and cuddle me all over saying, “Good Morning, Moti. Moti is a good girl!” Everyone is cheerful and happy and my day is made!
In front of our roomy bungalow there is a huge garden, or rather an orchard, with all types of trees and bushes, and a lush green lawn on which I love to frolic, prance and roll upside down, and lots of flower beds which I love digging up to my mother’s horror.
I love digging up the mud – it’s so tasty – and there is plenty of it in the spacious kitchen garden behind the house where I create havoc digging up to my heart’s content, and the only thing I’ve spared are the tomatoes and some horrible tasting leaves called Alu, in Marathi, because they itch.
And my father taught me ‘human talk’ and some words, and soon I began to ‘speak’ to him – well, we have a vocabulary of our own.
Of course, our communication styles are different – he uses words, speaks in human language, while I rely on varied sounds like whines and howls and groans and non-verbal antics like nudging, pawing, begging, tugging, licking, and when I want his attention desperately, giving him a shake-hand.
There is so much to sniff, so much to dig, and so much to chase - squirrels, mongooses and birds and butterflies.
The cats have disappeared though; ever since the day I almost caught one.
Once, during my chums, I managed to slip away across the fence, and all hell broke loose, and I was located, chased, captured and, for the first time in my life, I was soundly scolded by my father who was really furious. I felt miserable, and sulked, but then my father caressed and baby-talked me and I knew how much he loved and cared for me, and it was all okay.
And during those sensitive days he specially pampers me and takes me for long leisurely walks, on a tight leash, keeping an eagle eye and stick ready in his hand for those desperate rowdy rascal mongrels who suddenly appear from nowhere and frantically hang around and try to follow me, their tongues drooling, looking at me in a lewd restless manner.
Once they even had the gumption to sneak into the compound at night, and beseechingly whine outside, till my father chased them away.
So my father bought me a chewy bone which, it said on the wrapper, was guaranteed to save everything else.
I don’t know why, but I secretly buried the bone in a hole I dug below the Mango tree, and I used to dig it out when I thought no one was looking, chew it a bit, and bury it in some other secret place.
This started the “bone-game”.
First they (the humans – my mother and father) would give me the bone, and after I hid it they would rush out into the garden and dig it out – then they would hide the bone (after locking me in the house so I could not see) and make me find it, which I did using my nose.
So now I first let them see where I’m hiding the bone, and when they complacently and confidently go inside thinking they know everything, I dig out the bone and hide it some other place which they do not know and then watch the fun as they search in vain.
Then when they go inside and my father asks me to get the bone, I run out and get it, for which I earn a tidbit.
The way these humans act sometimes, I really wonder who is more intelligent – they or I?
And with the huge sum of money the builder has given him, my father has suddenly transformed overnight from a simple frugal pensioner to a rich prosperous millionaire - a crorepati...
The marble floors are so hard, smooth and slippery that my nails break and paws get sore.
The fancy ‘luxurious’ fittings are so fragile, and decorative adornments are so delicate, that my mother is always on the edge when I prance around, scolding me to sit down quietly.
There is no earth to dig, no bushes and trees to smell, no grass for a carefree loll, and, worst of all, no cats and rats, mongooses and squirrels, and birds to chase.
The society over here is so elitist that even their dogs are snobbish, and they sneer at me and loudly speculate about my pedigree.
Here, in the "luxurious" flat, there is a stipulated sand-pit in the corner of the terrace earmarked for my ablutions.
They don’t allow me in the lift, so my poor old father has to walk me down ten floors, and then up again after our daily walk.
Even that I don’t enjoy any more, as we have to squeeze ourselves on the crowded streets in the hustle bustle and din of traffic, since on the first day he took me out, we were to stopped at the entrance of the verdant
My father too has a guilt conscience and is more and more affectionate towards me, and I too feel sorry for him and snuggle up to him whenever I can and tell him it’s okay and I’m happy.
My loving father and I have become closer to each other than ever before and endure our misery together in silence, while the rest of my family, celebrating their newfound affluence, are becoming more and more distant.
I bark and bark desperately, but no one comes for quite some time, and then suddenly they all appear, carry my father to the lift and take him away. I follow them to the gate and watch them put my father in a car. I want to go with him but they shoo me away.
Everyday I eagerly wait for my father to come back.
I wait and wait, but my father never comes back.
Never – he never comes back – and I never see my father again.
I wag my tail welcoming my adorable little nephew.
The baby catches my tail, pulls my tail with his full weight and tries to stand up.
The pain is terrible, but I grit my teeth and stoically suffer the excruciating agony.
The baby innocently pulls my tail even harder, and now, unable to bear the terrible excruciating pain I squeal, howl and yelp in unimaginable agony, desperately crying for help.
The baby releases my tail, I try to lovingly lick the baby, but my mother takes him away, comes back and glares at me, while I look at her trying to convince her of my innocence.
Tell me, how can I ever think of even slightly harming my little baby nephew who I love so much?
Totally terrified and alarmed, I tug violently with all my strength, break the hook holding the collar to the leash and run for my dear life.
My brother chases me so I turn swiftly into an alley.
No one comes for some time.
Well that's my story. A Dog's Story. My Life Story.
Academic Journal Vikram Karve – http://karvediat.blogspot.com