So what if the title isn’t original? It’s just what I mean; if only I could add some punctuation to express my exasperation and disbelief with the way things tend to shape up around me.
Here’s an update for the uninitiated — I live in a rented house with my husband, 2 dogs — Nenny and Pony — and a cat I love to call by many names, but mostly Tiny. I have two conspiratorial neighbours on either side, both power-puff housewives I meekly address as ‘Aunty’ (to no effect though since they make no secret about their disgust with dogs and their wish to send me packing!). Just thought I’ll let you know so you’ll find it easy to relate with identifiers later on in the post.
Everyday I find myself in the eye of a little storm starting from 6.30 in the morning. Alarm; snooze; alarm; get up, brush, dress, let the cat in after his daily night-outs; feed the cat; take the dogs out; check impulses and come back in time; cook the dog food; cook the human food; feed the dogs; feed myself if there’s time; feed the husband if there’s time; clean the backyard whether or not there’s time; bathe; dress; check bag for deo, comb, watch, moisturiser, kohl, ID card; check if there’s time to scribble some instructions for the maid; answer call from office announcing that the pick-up vehicle has arrived; run; on the way, check if things are tucked in and out of reach of the two little termites (my dogs) at home… answer the second call; and run! Hair and make-up to be done in the jerky comfort of the moving office vehicle.
Things have become more messy with my new year’s resolution of taking Nenny and Pony out every morning. One of the reasons I’ve always found excuses for not doing this was the numerous stray dogs in the streets. My dogs have the ugly habit of charging at the mere sight of a poor stray, which results in their straining at the leash with their combined 30 Kg — and me pulling the other way with my 40 Kg. The tipping point of 10 Kg may look good on Jennifer Aniston in Marley and Me, but for me it’s a nightmare. Tug of war with snarling dogs is not my idea of fun. Period.
I have recently discovered a place where I can let them loose, though, thanks to the step-dad… err my husband’s current bonhomie with the sometimes-inhabitants of a local football ground. (Yes, some people in India play football.) That saves a lot of my energy, which I spend in soaking up the morning sun and taking pictures.
However, I’ve often wondered on my way to work, after the hair and make-up job, “What’s the point of doing this if I get no joy from it? Surely there must be another way of doing it all so I’ll feel less pushed? ” I keep thinking about the things I miss while I’m away from home, and those I miss noticing even when I’m at home — with all the convoluted self-deprecating reasoning of the working woman with kids.
Like that very thin, very sick little stray in the neighbourhood who seemed to have injured his leg in a dog-fight. He was good-looking — at least good to look at when he was a puppy — and very friendly. A couple of months back, he had taken to following me quietly as I walked back from work at night. Perfectly behaved, he never sniffed at anything I happened to buy from the grocer’s; in fact, when I offered him biscuits, he’d shy away, and I’d smile sadly, knowing that some irresponsible people must have spoilt him with cooked food when he was a puppy, and therefore, he’s finding it hard to adapt to a life on the streets. I had gone out, looking for him on two consecutive nights, and given him some milk and chicken. But then he disappeared.
After I came back from my big fat Indian wedding, I did not see the little fellow anymore. Since I know a lot of dog-people in the area, I asked after him. But nobody seemed to know anything about him, except one Aunty K, who related me the horror story of a dog she found in a garbage dump with all limbs tied. Apparently, she called the nearest vet for help, since she had no idea of first aid, and the vet refused to come. By the time she reappeared, she said that the animal was gone. “Where?” I screamed? “I don’t know.” said Aunty K, making me look at her through my eyebrows while I wondered if she’s delusional or is such cruelty possible in reality. (I insist, there IS a possibility of her being insane, no offence intended.)
It’s difficult to logically explain why I felt personally responsible for the disappearance of the little sick dog. I felt I should have done more. I’d conjure up images of pain and torture inflicted on me or my dogs and suffer the kind of Catholic suffering I’d only sparingly listened to and scoffed at in school. (“Duh. Flames that give no light? Nice metaphor!”)
Imagine my joy and disbelief when I discovered this little fiend howling away to glory day before yesterday as I tried to jostle Nenny and Pony out of his way! He’s made it! He was not quite as thin as he was, but he still has a bad leg. He seemed to have made friends, and seeing the foolish smile on my face, I presume, they found it safe to approach the three of us. I was so happy to see the little fellow that I’d forgotten myself, until of course Nenny and Pony pulled at the leash, starting that embarrassing feud in full public view. I wasn’t carrying the camera then, but I made sure to click a picture of him yesterday, when, I was sure, he’d come to see me!
I was super miffed with my dogs for being such hooligans and spoiling my happy reunion. I also realised that I had finally found a name for all those things I missed in my mad rush of meeting deadlines. I was missing the simple human joy of seeing and experiencing new things. I’m so used to chasing and making things happen that I was on my way to forget that there are certain things that you let be, and allow them to happen to you. Like waiting for someone. Or allowing myself to be surprised. Sometimes, surprises can fill you up with so much of hope and laughter that you’d suddenly realise how tired you had been without actually knowing it.
When I went out to walk yesterday, I remembered to watch out for all the other strays in our neighborhood’s feral fraternity. I realised that they are more civil than my own dogs. Some are scared, some just curious, and some, like Bushu here, tired of being turned away and therefore, not interested.
It’s such a relief to find little pockets of happiness in our badly screwed world. At any time in the day, predictably, there will be something that will go wrong. I may feel rightfully upset or livid with outrage, but at the back of my mind, I know I have one constant source of comfort somewhere. And that’s quite enough to put things back into their place.
My mother had accidentally dropped (poured?) tomato seeds in the little garden space we have in the front of the house. Not my favourite place for a vegetable garden, but I hadn’t noticed when the plant came out until about a week ago, when I found little green tomatoes hanging from it! Since then, I’ve been a dutiful gardener. I water my plants everyday, pluck out the weeds once a week, and wait for them lovelies to turn red.
Okay let’s face it. I think I should have been a farmer. A rancher with acres and acres of land and lots of dogs and horses would be more appropriate though. I love the idea of working in the outdoors with the sun on my shoulders. I would love to breathe in the sultry afternoon heat and see my plants change colour. I think a couple of things in the past week has just made me turn over a new leaf, and that makes me very, very happy.
P.S. I just realised that I have not written enough about the other animals in the family. Hence, more to follow.