I’m in a quandary now. Not that this ill luck’s dropped suddenly on me – but that I was not moved enough to blog about it before this.
I have two dogs that I had rescued last year from a litter of eight. At that time I was just recovering from symptoms gravitating towards the deadly swine flu. I have had to take a forced break from work for a week – which culminated with this tremendous metamorphosis that has given me great notoriety in my neighbourhood – I play mummy to two dogs. Strays.
My kids – as I call them – stay at home while my boyfriend and I go to work. It has been so ever since I got them home – on April 24 last year when they were not even a month old. To my great relief, now they’ve grown up enough to make do with two meals a day. I leave some dry dog-food for them to snack on if they want. But there was a time when I used to wake up at 6 in the morning and prepare some lukewarm Cerelac for them. Cerelac is instant baby food by the way – for humans. I gave that to my pups so they’d gain strength enough to pass the long interval in the afternoon. I’d make sure I gave them extra-large portions of food before I went off to work for the day – often reaching late and returning early.
Not to cut an already long story short, I routinely returned to my flat to find it littered with poop and pee, the sponge of the sofa eaten, plastic covers of food boxes nibbled on and rendered unusable and such other destructions.
My life changed. I have had numerous quarrels with my boyfriend because of (as I put it) his inability to adapt to his sudden elevation of status to daddyhood. When my parents visited in July last year, they were shocked beyond expression. Except on occasions when my mother almost sobbed for the nuisance created by untrained strays – who did their best to prove every dog manual a work of fiction. I had to bribe her into not quitting me altogether by buying her “I’m Sorry” cards and gifts – one of which happens to be a miniature Bhagawad Gita.
My brother, who stays in Delhi, has always been supportive of my actions, although he never fails to make a face about my kids’ inglorious pedigree. My boyfriend has been a godsend – although dearly bought – and has helped me out with every visit to the vet because I nearly faint at the sight of an injection syringe.
The reason for my indulging in this litany is simple. I want to connect with my readers on the plane of similar experiences that consume one’s life and passions. When I watched my little puppies sleep, sometime last year, I had promised myself that I will never let this privilege slip; that I’ll fight to death any foe that would ever try to bring harm to this way of life. For somewhere in my godless psyche, I knew that this was the closest I could come to believing in god – or something as good as this.
My quandary is that this way of life seems to be irking my neighbours. Although the Indian laws are on my side, I feel responsible for what people call the “nuisance of barking dogs”. They are after all mine, and even if I water down neighbours’ complaints to 50 percent of what they purport, I realize that the situation is not very pretty.
I am of course in no mood to disburse moral discounts for my neighbours – people who are bought over by the display of vague political whips and threats. These are self-styled do-gooders who formerly expended great effort to appease me – which in retrospect I think was to extract a handsome amount for the social extravaganza during Durga puja – by eagerly asking after my dogs and commenting on their exemplary behaviour. I should have recognised them for what they are – I rue now – and been canny enough to get that in writing, surprised though I was! The same do-gooders now call on me to inform me that the “nuisance” I referred to was now bad enough to be the primary point of discussion at society meetings.
My evil alter-ego wonders whether the society has weapons of mass destruction that they’re trying to hide by cooking up a storm on non-issues?!
Anyway, I’m almost on death row now on account of my kids. My neighbours have been photographing the goings on in my house to prove their point – my broker has informed me. Of course I heartily congratulated my broker on this piece of good news – for apart from the legal and moral advantage it gives me, it also makes me feel like ummm Paris Hilton?! (Ok, that’s my evil alter-ego again!)
My friends advise me to steel myself for this will go on for ever – with these neighbours or others. And that is what worries me. For a society that cares nothing about squishing animals under the wheels of cars, or at the very least sterilising animals to spare them their loveless lives, what moral authority can they invoke to persecute exceptions – people like me – who try to lighten up the lives of others at their own expense?
And yes, I’d also like to ask the faithful, “Is god listening?”