Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tragic Leaps

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 Lucknow 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.
  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 Namu
 My 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


  1. It is a sad story but it was not intentional. Guilt stays for long time though. Sorry to hear.

  2. I am an animal lover. I cannot calmly read this post.

  3. The human brain is amazing. It retains every little detail in moments like these and the joyous ones don't last that long.

    Toffee is so cute and thanks for stopping by my blog. I loved your comments.

  4. OMG such a sad story I actually envisioned everything happening the way you have written and now I am feeling extremely sorry for those poor animals.
    What geeta has written is so true our brain does retains all the sad memories and details alas not true for happy memories.

  5. I really love this pic of your family on the blog

  6. Oh, that's so sad. It's difficult to get over it, isn't it? But I guess, that's how life goes. And each experience has something to teach us.

  7. @ rama nice write up. i have a smiliar incident. MY mother in law is a profound animal once happened that my brother in law rode his jeep over the leg of the cat and the cat was injured.MY mother in law kept weeping continously for 2 days;grumbling and yelling at him "saying he is heartless" and also didnot speak to him for 2 days. She kept applying the herbal paste from a plant over it's wound.And yes..i have replied for your comment , in my blog.

  8. Thank You for this story.
    It is sad.

  9. Thats one fluffy lovely dog you have. I am sure you will be showering all your love on him for the losses you have had in the past

  10. Hello Rama:)

    Very interesting but a heart touching story.

    Yes, I agree with you that pups looks very cute and frisky. They are innocent and cuddly. Many times I had the temptation to pick up pups from the road and take home. But since I live in a flat and since I am basically lazy, I will not be able to take care of them.

    MY sister in law has two huge dogs in her house.She dots on them.Even when she is sick she makes sure the dogs are well cared for.

    I remember having a Rajaplalayam cross puppy when I was living in Goa.But this naughty puppy used to pull down all the clothes which we put up on the line for drying.We were fed up and finally we gave it away to a friend of mine who is a dog lover.

    I wonder how you and your family managed to live with so many puppies and cats in your house.They must be all over the house.

    Have a nice day Rama:)

  11. What a touching story. I can see ho w it could scar someone for life. Your love is very evident.

    As for my Lisa choice, both will be gifts to the family at some point. I plan to use the second Lisa to promote myself as a portrait artist. Thanks for stopping by...

  12. It takes courage and compassion to pick up strays. Hats off to your family.

  13. This touches my heart too.... I can only imagine your pain in that terrible experience.

    Around the world and we share a love of pets and animals....

    Thank you so much for stopping by my Perfectly Pink site and leaving a 'footprint' of your presence there.