(Pre-Script: I said i won't post anything till my net connection got back on its feet, but since that isn't showing any sign of happening and i was missing the pleasure I got from posting here more than I could handle, i am finally posting this from my slower-than-a-snail lab PC, trying not to catch the lab asse's eye (I am supposed to be running a java program I can't make head or tail of)
By the way, this piece is very close to my heart and since it is very long, I am going to post it in two parts.. This is the first one, the second would come up as soon as I can get my hands on a comp. with a net conn next.. take care and hope you like it.. Non-fictious post ahead: :) )
He came into our lives one wintery night, with droopy ears and empty eyes. His beige coat was turning a dirty grey in places and his open wounds were a muddy red in others.
It was his moaning whimpers that drew us out to where he was shivering and cowering near our big maroon gate. The sight was so piteous, that even my mother who is deadly afraid of dogs couldn’t stop herself from tsch tsching about his state, albeit from a distance. My golden soul of a sister turned her huge innocent puppy eyes towards mom and said “mumma, could I please give him some bread, nai to wo marr jayega ” . As was mom’s rule when it came to dogs, she was about to refuse, but at the precise moment he gave such a heart wrenching moan from across the gate that her heart melted and she told Vinci “jao de do, but dur se ok? Bilkul dur se.. chuna ni use”.. , and so it began, the little every day ritual of milk soaked bread slices thrown from across the wall at the adoptive dog Vinci had lovingly named Gugu. Muscle by muscle and inch by inch we saw his body grow, his ears rise and his eyes fill with light. Within a month or two he was strong enough to mark that area as his territory and to hold on to it. As it seemed was the rule among street dogs, specific areas of the streets were recognized as belonging to a particular dog and the dadas were ferocious in guarding their territories. Territory meant that all the food from all the houses in that part of the street went to that dog. Also, no other dog was allowed to wander let alone sleep in the dada’s area.
Much to my mother’s distress, Gugu had given in to following us around whenever we went for a walk. Every time my mom went for a walk and Gugu came so near so as to almost touch her ankle, she would turn around, scream, and make frenzied little attempts to shoo him away. I must say, it looked more like a funny dance to me than a shooing and inevitably caused me to giggle, which more than once got me a stern look followed by an angry silence from my mom. I on my part used to love the attention. It was almost like I had a pet dog, something I had wanted for as long as I can remember. Having him there, breathing down my ankle, the tip of his ear almost tickling the tiny hair on my leg, while I took my early morning vacation walks, gave me a feeling of being adored and even awed.
Now, as it happens, the other half of our street belonged to a bitch. So, every night as we took our after dinner walk, Gugu would accompany us till the middle of the street where the barking bitch would greet him with a snarl and send him scurrying back into his area.
He had taken to sleeping at our gate after his nightly meal and my mother, after a few failed attempts to shoo him away, finally caved in and allowed him this luxury. She even developed a kind of unprecedented non-touchy kind of affection for him. This went on for the whole of my vacation.
My vacations ended and my interactions with him reduced to a couple of nights every alternate week or so when I came home, but the welcome was always warm and his tail wagged just as ferociously as ever on seeing me.
Last winter, the bitch gave birth to 6 beautiful puppies, which became quite an attraction on her side of the street. I was smitten and spent hours photographing them with my cell, trying to make them come to me, and when mom was not looking, I even managed to tickle them and let them lick my toe.
The next month I came home to find that one by one, they had all succumbed to the bitter cold.Only the heartbroken bitch remained. May be it was her grief that made her lower her guard and little by little let Gugu come into her drab life. We saw them together, two lonely souls filling each other’s vaccum, comforting each other with a lick here, a paw there. One who had never known a family of his own, the other who had just lost her beautiful brood to Mother Nature’s icy quirk. We were happy our Gugu had finally settled down. There was a new spring to his cream paws, a sudden grace to the curve of his tail, a smart swagger to his little rounds. I could see the smile swimming in his watery eyes. May be in a few months, they’ll be a new set of puppies jumping around the lot, hiding behind the trees, digging out little flowers. Aaaaah our Gugu, a big daddy.. it was a beautiful fantasy.