Some year’s back a new species of animal was discovered at my neighbour. its conditions must have been the same as some good-hearted, well behaved person, who under unprecedented compulsive circumstances has to adopt the environment for which there are no alternatives. Poor soul is suffering terrible tortures and insults. I got introduction of this poor soul, when I was enjoying my morning tea on my terrace. The elder son of my neighbour on whose backpack, hat and motorbike conspicuous inscription in bold letters is seen, “Press Correspondent”. He with the same air of arrogance gave such strong forceful kick to this mute poor creature in the open corridor of the house that poor kept crying “kiya…kiyaa –” in pain for long. Actually the poor soul came in his way and he in his rustic slang ordered, “Oy – go ashide” (hey, go aside). The poor creature was not conversant with this arrogant language and voice of the person who gave the command, so the dog registered its defence by bow-wow at him, which infuriated him further, shouting at it, “You bashterd… you no lisen….you saout at owner?” (You bastard… you do not listen… you (shout) bark at master?) And in hot blood he kicked again. It was just trying to say something in its language of barking – bow…wow. Then the father, a village primary school teacher, in his teacher-like avatar with swaying cane in his hand, this is a normal perception of a village primary teacher in India, appeared on the scene. Skilled and proficient in the art of canning rushed at the creature to teach a lesson saying, “wicked are tamed not by sweet words, but by stick” and began eulogising himself and sang his own wax lyrical songs, “I have tamed and straighten big-big fellows. In my primary class had I have not beaten and broken legs of so and so, he would not have become magistrate; till today he limps.” Saying so he lifted his arms in such a historic style as his school nostalgia was hovering upper in his mind and made a heroic advance towards the creature. The poor with fear entrusted its soul to god and saving its skin it took to its heels so fast and dodged the teacher. The old man tried to follow its style and barely could make a few steps and fell flat on his face, struggling to get up abusing the creature with his rustic vocabulary of bad words and assuring himself to castigate the dog in future.
The dog jumped and came to my terrace, stood hiding behind me. I began caressing it with love; patted it with care. May
that it might have realized and remembered the care it used to get from its previous master. In love it raised its fore feet and placed it on my chest, looking straight in my eyes barked bow-wow pleading me to save it. When I assured it with my utmost compassion, it began licking me wagging the tail; it began moving around me in joy. Just then a shriek of Mr. Press Correspondent was heard calling the dog, “Oy, Motiye – bashtard – come upshtairs” (Hey, Motiye – bastard come upstairs). There were several such calls, but the dog had no reaction to these commands. It is quite possible that the dog is neither used to its new name nor to the voice of its new master. I kept on fondling and loving it. Just then the father appeared on the scene, but this time without a cane. Seeing him the dog started barking at him, which infuriated him and he declared a war. He began searching a stick, “Oye – – you bashtard — yew bark on your owner and ignore the calls and commands … I… I… teach you lesson.” (Hey, bloody bastard, you bark at your own master and ignore the calls, I shall teach you a lesson.)
Somehow on one or the other pretext I succeed in inviting this person of universal imminence on my terrace. I offered him a chair lying on the terrace. There were hot exchanges between us, but soon I managed to make cease fire. I offered him tea from my thermos and gave some biscuits to the dog. By the by as we advanced in our talks, I narrated an old episode. Meanwhile the dog laid its head in my lap and with watchful eyes kept listening to my talks. I began telling the incident, “One of my very good acquaintances’ son got married to a beautiful, serene, well educated girl from a very good descends. I could not attend their marriage ceremony, so after two or three days, I went to their house to congratulate them. As customary, introduction of the new member of the house is the first ritual to follow by the host, so he and his wife called her by some name, but there was no response, so the boy with awkwardness went inside to call her. The man meanwhile whispered in my ears, “Gentleman, we are deceived; she is such a strange and weird girl, whenever we call her, she just does not listen.” I had a thought then that her hearing was impaired, but I got clarification that she was not deaf, but quiet and less talkative.” Well time elapsed and later I learnt that her maiden name was Pushpa and ritually after marriage she was given a new name, “Jayshree”. The poor girl could not get conversant to her new name so soon, so not remembering her new name, she never responded whenever called by the new name. “I feel the same thing is probably happening with this dog.” I urged the teacher that there was no fault on the dog’s part; allow it some time to get conversant with its new name. “For this creature the entire environment is new and strange. First and foremost thing that is expected of you is that you should adopt it, accept it, for which loving it is the only way out. You should contact its first master to know about the language it understands. With love and care slowly it shall adopt and understand your language also. We shall have to first understand the psychology of this dog and bring about a change in our behaviour accordingly.” On my counselling there was a satirical smile on the oldie while wryly uttered, “Oh, psychology of a dog! Ha…Ha…Ha you see dog needs only a few piece of bread and a few kicks.” I felt empathy for his poor mental makeup and what else could it be possible.
Lot of time gone by for this interaction with the neighbour, but there was no change in their behaviour and attitude. Everyday Moti accompanies me on my morning walk; it plays ball with me for an hour; with me only it takes bath and takes breakfast on the table. We used to understand languages of each other. Yes, if there is a delay on my part for playing ball in the evening, it snatches my pen and papers and runs away. The owners with air of arrogance complained to me, “We have purchased it by throwing money at the owner. Why do not you leave it alone?” I told them, “The dog does not know and understand this commercial transaction. Yes, the truth is, this dog has purchased me with its love and I am solely and wholly sold out to it….. By the by the dog belongs to you only.”
As such Moti spends lot of time with me. Yes, there is a change in Moti; slowly it began to mixes-up and accepts the teachers’ family. It now shares lot of house-hold responsibilities. The teacher has roof-top garden and there is plane grazing ground nearby, where his cows graze. It plays a role of cow-boy, by keeping an eye over the cattle. If the cows go beyond the designated area, it brings them back and guide them back home at dusk. It keeps an eye on cats, which are habitual of stealthily drinking milk in the kitchen. Once the cat is spotted it gives such a chase and drives them away to far off places. But the cats are no less. They are so shrewd and cunning that one of them briskly climbs tree nearby and Moti like a buffoon sits below the tree keeping a strict vigilance on it; while the other cats come to divert its attention and this innocent began chasing them out, but by that time the cat on the tree descends and go atop the roof. This gazing-stock continues for hours. Because of this Moti and cats chasing game, the rats and mice have long peaceful gala time, but they are not at the least happy, since with their sharp and strong sense of smell, sniffs and spot the snakes in the hole; Moti does not leave even the snakes and accepts the challenge to drive them away.
I feel Moti is the busiest animal on the earth. Finishing its duties one after the other it finds time to play ball with me besides his morning and evening play schedule. There is no restriction on weather or time. If I have to keep my writing material like pen and papers intact, I am compelled to go with it to terrace for playing. Today as we were playing on the terrace in the rains, the oldie remarked, “Oye, Motiye, there is time for everything; is this the time for playing ball?” Then the oldie turned to me and began preaching me on social dignity, “A grey haired old man playing ball with the dog in the rains; what people would say?” Saying so, he went inside his house, but could not resist watching our play from the window.
Gentlemen, this is no ordinary ball game of throw and catch. Howsoever smartly and wangled the ball is thrown, in whichever direction or high in the air, Moti skilfully notes the intent of ball throwing person from the expression and movement and in fraction of a second works the strategy and never misses catching it; no matter if it has to jump three four feet up in the air. Yes, there is unwritten rule of the game. If the ball happens to go down on the street by the person throwing it, then the person should collect it from the ground, but for some reason it happens that Moti fails to catch and the ball goes down, then Moti brings it. It is very interesting and fascinating game. Sometimes scores of children gather on the terrace to watch this gazing-stock of our play. They also bring balls with them and the play turns into unparallel match between Moti and the rest of the world team. It catches every ball skilfully. The kids they clap shout and giggle for each and every Moti’s move and action. This oldie can’t bear and stand. Today he shouted and scolded the children and driven them away. Tyranny, wickedness could never overpower love. The very next day, I heard sound of children’s clapping, shouting from a distance. My guess was absolutely correct. Moti was playing with kids. I saw some mothers with their small kids, the tiny tots were also playing with Moti; touching it, riding on it and moving about it and Moti was enjoying all this gleefully. When I looked the other side of the Stepped cultivating land of the hill, I saw all the dogs of the area sitting as if audience in the stadium watching the match. A very strange scene it was. Accidently Moti happened to see me; shyly it lowered its ears and hid behind one of the ladies. When in my loving lisping tone I said to it, “Come on my son, let us begin the play.” It emerged forth from the hiding and the game resumed as usual. The oldie shouted from his rooftop, “Oye, bastard Motiye, you bloody maverick – come home, else I shall break your legs.” Listening to this one of the ladies uttered, “This oldie can’t stand children playing joyfully.”
The school teacher created a hubbub and clamour today. He ran after Moti with a rod saying, “You bloody rascal, we have bought you for sentinel work and not for playing and amusing the kids.” With fear Moti came to me and slept whole night in my house.
Next morning as usual Moti accompanied me on my morning walk and as per scheduled daily routine Moti went up on terrace and I entered the kitchen to prepare morning tea. I took with me some packets of biscuits and came up to the terrace. To my surprise, five to six stray-dogs were there playing ball with Moti. It was not the regular game of throw and catch, but it was somewhat like football. Moti was kicking the ball with its leg and other dogs chasing it. The teacher was watching this scene from his terrace and said to me,”It seems to take my stocks Moti has brought this brigade, trying to display its strength. I hid its ball such that it can’t find it, but like sniffers-dog it traced it out from that remote hiding.” Moti barked bow-wow at his master to convey him in his language, “They are my friends. They are here to meet you.” When I translated Moti’s message to the oldie, he began mumbling in preparedness to challenge, “Ok…Ok…I come there to see you.” He came there with a rod in his hand. Looking at his gate and gesture all dogs began barking at him. He jeered at them saying, “You all idiots, you dare bark at me on my own terrace.” Before anything untoward could happen, I gave a packet of biscuit in his hand. He gave surprised stance at me. While keeping the rod aside in low fearful apprehensive tone mumbled, “Wouldn’t they bite me?” As he began giving biscuits, all dogs came close to him wagging their tails. I assured him, “Do not worry, now they all have become your friends; by wagging their tails they have confirmed the friendship.” Just then Moti kept a ball in front of him. He understood instantly Moti’s intensions to urge him to play. He honoured Moti’s plea and kicked the ball and thus the game began in a very congenial atmosphere, which would be remembered for long. There were four to five balls on the terrace. Each dog in turn kept bringing the ball to the teacher and he began kicking it. Before he could kick one ball the next would come there. The members of teacher’s family watching this gazing-stock were awe struck to see him in his new avatar. This encouraged the teacher and then packets of biscuits began pouring and the game became a joyful festival. The teacher laughingly said, “You have put me on a new job now.” I replied, “This affair is expression of love and its reciprocation in the same coin of love. It is not simply a game alone.”
This transformation of thick friendship became very evident; day in and day out one could hear teacher’s call, “Oye, Motiye, come let us water the plant” – “Come on, Motiya, we go for walk.”—“Oye, where are you, let us have food.” — “Oh, look the cats have come.” —“Oye, Moti, be quick, children are there on terrace to play.” Moti now very well understand teachers commands and act accordingly. Moti became almost like his shadow. In each and every act of teacher’s daily routine Moti became it’s part. My friendship and relation with Moti remained unchanged, but now I feel, Moti’s mental state is like it has kept its feet on two boats and fallen between two stools. Now every morning and evening the terrace is buzzed with children’s clapping, laughter and joyful shrills.
Today I was so occupied with my work on computer that I did not realized that it was seven in the evening, but then I was surprised that there was complete silence on the terrace, no sound of children playing there. Just then Moti knocked the door and urged me out, but today it did not have ball in its mouth and it began barking bow-wow. It began to run upstairs, surprisingly it did not go to terrace as usual, but stopped near teacher’s room. I understood that it wants me there, so I went to the teacher’s door and found that the teacher was not keeping well. His one hand was paralysed and that he was off and on losing consciousness. In the night he was taken to hospital. Several hospitals were tried for his cure, but unfortunately losing all the hopes of his full recovery, he was brought back home. He was kept in the hall adjacent to my room. Moti kept insisting on seeing him, so finally I took it there. It kept watching him in silence; sometime he went and sat near him looking at him with remorse and tearful eyes. The next day the teacher passed away. I kept Moti tied in my room. The funeral arrangements were being carried out in the hall itself. Visitors throng the place mourning the death. Moti was not at ease. It was trying to get glimpses through the French-window of my room. When the funeral went pass the window, Moti kept barking for long, mourning the death of his master.
We returned after the cremation was over. The flow of visitors to mourn the death continued till night. All of a sudden Moti’s thought crossed my mind, so I went to see it in the room, but to my horror, Moti was not there; how did it escape, god alone knew. The search began, but we failed to locate. One passerby told us that the dog was seen passing near the rock. We drove our car there and began calling Moti aloud, but there was no response, nor any sign of Moti in vicinity. Then we ascended the hillock there and from the top we began calling Moti aloud. Just then Moti came panting with ball in it’s’ mouth. We understood that with its’ ability of smelling sense, it was searching its’ master. It was in the process of pursuit of his master and it seemed we called it. When I began putting chain, it began behaving very strangely. With the breeze a foul smell came from below. One of the accompanying person told that the smell was coming from the same place below, where the teacher was cremated. The funeral pyre was still burning. By its sense of smell Moti began looking down towards the burning pyre and the ball slipped out of its’ mouth and rolled down in the river just closed to the teacher’s cremation site.
I lifted Moti and kept it tight in my embrace. It laid its head on my shoulder in deep quietness, but his silence was expressing volumes of his feelings. I felt even the teacher is telling it, “Oye – Motiye – you mad fellow there is a time to play, but see my time is out and over. Oh, my dear Moti, here again you have shown your obstinacy. After I pass into eternity and merged in these waves, I shall keep playing the game of ball.”