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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Musings of a Desi Dog

I am that dog round the corner of your house you may have seen for years, hanging around the garbage dump, licking scraps from your left-overs, cleaning up some of the mess you have made in your surroundings. Yes, I am it (not he or she, for you don't care about those details). I know that some of you might actually notice me for the first time, although I may not, even now, be worthy of being considered an entity. I know you have never considered the fact that while you switch on your air-conditioners and can't stand a moment without your instant power back-up, I am panting around the street just looking for some water to drink. What I get is mostly water contaminated with the filth you throw around, or the sewage you have failed to treat, and I often fall ill despite my robust immune system created by years of eating from your very own neighbourhood garbage dump. Yes, I'm that creature that you kick every time you are walking on the street and have nothing better to do, or hurl a stone at just because you saw one lying around. There are many like me. Some of us live near garbage dumps, the lucky ones near restaurants, and the really unlucky ones on the highways. You may have seen a shattered skull or some pulled out intestines on your way to work, or maybe not because you were too busy formulating that report you had to send to your boss before 10 AM. There was a friend of mine who lay there on the street, with two broken legs, run over by a car driven by someone who hadn't woken up on time and hence was rushing to work. He lay there whimpering and trying to crawl to safety, lying there on the highway for almost twenty minutes. Some of you swerved, some of you braked and changed lanes before you drove on, until someone had had enough of the traffic jam being caused by this broken-legged nuisance lying on the road and ran over his head, putting an end to his misery. Maybe I should be thankful that he did that; it may have been better that way.

You love your speed, but we love our lives too. I'm sure your drunken driving can be kept under control if you really care. I saw one of you, who had run over my sister and my mother together when I was very young, as he was zooming by in his BMW on MG road, and he pulled up a little further down the road and got out. I was naive then and thought that he would call for some help, as my mother lay thrashing about on the road - she could have been saved if help had been called, but he got out, walked around to the other car,and said to his friend, "Oye Baench*d Bumper Thuk Gayi Yaar! Insurance bhi nahin milega". He then glanced towards us angrily, hurled a few more expletives about how we had become a menace everywhere, climbed back into his car and drove on, as I ran about helplessly, witnessing death for the first time - merely 3 months old. Some of us die and remain bloated on the sidewalk for days or weeks, eaten by the vultures and crows, till some day a minister or a VIP is to ride down that road and hence the rotten carcass is lifted from the road and thrown into the nearest garbage dump. Some of us are left on the road, run over again and again till our bones become the road and our fur becomes the carpet. There are still some dog-made carpets on most highways you will ply on. You just need to look closely; not all those bumps are made of tar. The next time you're stuck in a traffic jam, look and maybe you'll find one of us, identifiable by some faded fur sticking out of some mud in the middle of the road. You say there are too many of us, but then there are too many of you as well. Do you deal with our issue just like you deal with yours? We have babies too; yes, we have many of them and we can't help it; they're not in our control. We don't know how to use birth control pills, we don't know how to control our urge to procreate. Yes, we have babies who need to be fed. While the mother goes out hunting for food, sometimes you chase her away, sometimes you beat her with sticks, sometimes you scare her onto the road, where she is run-over by a car or a truck. The babies cannot feed themselves. Their eyes and ears don't open until they are two weeks old. They die without their mothers, or they die without food. They did not choose this life; it was thrust upon them. Does this mean anything to you, you who cry looking at 'cute' pictures of puppies on your laptop, and press 'like' on almost every picture that might get you some attention from some pretty girls or just to feel a sense of self-esteem?

Some of you are nice to us; you give us food and water, and most importantly, you give us your love. We like that the most of all; to be loved, to be petted, to be cuddled. Some of you even take us with you and give us a home - god bless you guys, but there are so few of you. The rest consider us too dirty, but they don't bathe us, or even give us an environment to keep ourselves clean. They think that all of us have rabies by default. Sometimes, that's a good thing, because at least that fear keeps them away. Some of you come and spay us. When you spay the males, you're actually chopping their balls off, and thus taking their manhood away. When you spay the female, you take away her uterus, but at least leave her ovaries behind, so that she can mate again! And then you chop off a part of our ear just so you don't catch hold of us and spay us all over again! A lot of us are taken to animal shelters too. Yes, a whole bunch of us live there, mostly in conditions so despicable that we'd rather be on the street where we were born. At least we're free to run around and to fend for ourselves, and not locked up in cages where we barely have enough space to turn twice before we lie down, something we love doing all the time. Some of us are locked together with others, where we fight for space and territory, wound and sometimes even kill each other, till we're tired and fall asleep in the pool of our own shit and blood. Sounds sexy, doesn't it? Yes, this is the life we live. What can you do about it? Well, for a start, think about it. Turn your attention away from whatsapps and the facebooks and the twitters and your androids and your iphones and your blackberries and your PPTs and your excel sheets, and give us a second glance; think about what the solution is. We don't want your food, though a bone every now and then would be awesome! We would love to have your time, but I know that is too much to ask. All we need is some respect, something we feel we deserve as fellow denizens of this planet. We know we don't have your IQ and your nuclear bombs and shit, but maybe that's because we never wanted them. We take one look at your lives and we are sometimes glad that we live a dog's life and not a human's!

The next time you see one of us, we'd like it if you don't kick us around. If you see some of us living in deplorable conditions because of the mess you've made, try and do something about that if you can. The next time your son or your daughter or your aunt or your uncle or anyone asks for a dog, instead of calling up that cocky breeder from Chattarpur for the super-expensive Dalmatian or Retriever or Terrier, try and pick one of us. We are just about as intelligent and will probably be more loyal to you. We may not be as 'cute' and 'cuddly' but we are sturdier. We live longer and we don't fall ill, because our genes and our immune systems have not been artificially messed around with. We don't have breathing problems like Boxers, back problems like Dachshunds and Alsatians, and don't suffer from obesity like Golden Retrievers. We don't shed as much hair as Pomeranians or Spaniels and can survive on roti and milk or even dal-chawal; yes, we don't need to be fed Pedigree or the likes of them! We know that you're going to take a huge hit in your social circle because Mr. Sharma is going to look down upon you and say that your desi is no comparison to his Rottweiler, and Mr. Singh from Punjabi Bagh is going to smugly point towards his chained up Bull Mastiff and talk to you about the benefits of having a big dog like that, chained up and without exercise, depressed and without company, and Mrs. Chopra, Chihuahua in hand, is going to taunt your wife that you guys don't have a Pug or a Spitz, but if you can for once in this lifetime look past the superficiality of your oh-so-lovely social circle and look at the real benefits of having a pair of loving eyes looking up to you, waiting eagerly for you to come back home, the wagging tail welcoming you with a happiness neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bhatia can fake when they see you, when you hear us bark at night and gladly put our own lives at risk to protect yours, when you truly witness that true love that only a desi dog can give, you might change your opinion about us and tell Mr. Iyer from Defence Colony and Mrs. Bose from C.R. Park, that if you yourself are a desi, then why can't your dog be one too?