On my evening walk, I spied a dog suckling her newborn pups. She looked so contented and indulgent, just like any new mother would. The beautiful pups, now playful, now hungry were frisky creatures with absolutely no care in the world. I wanted to pick up each one of them, cuddle them and even take a couple home. But the painful memories from my past stopped me.
My father, a great lover of dogs and cats, used to pick up strays, put them in his cycle basket and bring them home, much to my mother's consternation. She too loved animals, but did not relish the idea of such unplanned addition to our family.
Around that time, we had about 5 to 6 pups and equal number of kittens. The senior - most of the tribe was a majestic looking cat aptly named Rani, who had just wandered in, elected to stay, and delivered a litter of kittens.
Our third floor flat in
was now overrun by yelping pups and mewing kittens scurrying all over the place. There was complete harmony in the household, however, as pups and kittens shared their meals from common bowls, never was there a fight requiring human intervention. Lucknow
Our four- legged friends had cute names: Balu was a rolly- polly fellow, with a very short tail. We all adored him and his antics. The fat one was Cheenu, with his tummy barely clearing the ground. He was always hungry, always eating. During short breaks from his meals he would condescend to play with us . Honey was the quiet type with a strong sense of loyalty. The pup with the Naamam ( the Vishnavite caste mark ) on his forehead was promptly named Namu.
Behind our building was another block of flats, separated by a few feet. A long corridor running the length of our floor ended at a steel grilled shutter. The building opposite also had a corridor with a grilled shutter. The tenants there were from Kerala and often cooked fish. Rani the cat was in the habit of leaping across from our grilled corridor to theirs to have her fill of choice titbits.
On a few occasions, we had even seen her clutch one kitten at a time in her mouth and leap across to the other side to introduce her off springs to coastal Malabar cuisine.
The innocent pups and kittens who had watched this performance of Rani, tried one day to emulate her acrobatics when tragedy struck.
My mother, after a tiring day, had dozed off one afternoon while reading a magazine. We were at school and my father had gone to the office. My mother woke up with a start to a great commotion from the lane separating the two buildings. She went around the flat, but could not find any of the pups and kittens. With her heart in her mouth, she rushed to the corridor, only to see our favorite Balu take the deadly leap, but instead of landing on the opposite corridor, he missed and plunged down three floors to his death - as had all his companions, minutes earlier.
Our minds refused to believe this bizarre happening. We hated Rani for setting such a dangerous example for the innocents to follow. We hated ourselves even more for having failed to foresee such a possibility. This picture from 30 years ago of these tiny creatures falling to their death, lying battered and bloody, is vividly etched in my mind. It seems like only yesterday that I was fondling Balu, Honey and NamuMy father still loves pups and kittens and I was really touched to see him revive a weak pup (separated from its mother) trying to feed milk with an ink filler. One can learn a lot from animals – especially to love unconditionally.
|This is Toffee our dog who is almost 5 years old : a really cute dog, loves to play football|