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Friday, January 26, 2007

The Agony and Ecstacy

I sat dazed with the lifeless body of Appu on my lap.Although everything was over I could not let go of his body. The love Appu taught me, the affection he drew from me the friendship that existed between us will remain with me as long as I live. I felt his white coat. His two black mischievous eyes would never look at me. I was crying inconsolably, but Appu was not there to lick my tears away. I was left alone , no one to turn to at this hour of grief. I remembered the day Rituaunty presented me with a cute little white German Spits puppy . I picked him up and he licked my nose with his soft pink tongue. It was love at first sight. My barren life was full with love for the helpless little puppy, I called Appu. My life changed from the very day. I was a late riser, but not after Appu came to my life. Early in the morning he would wake me up, licking my palm and would put his wet nose on my ear.The moment I opened my eyes I would find him sitting upright beside me, looking at me with intense eagerness. I could not disappoint him and would take him out for a walk which he enjoyed enormously.Gradually it became a habit with me too. Though I prepared his meal as directed by the vet, his meals would never be complete without tit-bits from my lunch and dinner. I spoiled him thoroughly. I would wash him,. I would wash him, cuddle him, brush his coat, play with him. In short he was everything to me, a middle aged spinster, with indifferent looks and with a reputation of having a bad temper, devoid of affection, an eccentric whom people generally avoidedand made fun of at the back. Appu did not judge me, he gave his love unconditionally, that a dog can only do. After Appu came to my life, I never felt lonely. Appu was also a very good watch dog. He would run around the house driving away any body he thought was anintruder. He would not even spare the crows. He grew up to be a most mischievous and naughty dog pampered beyond imagination. But I did not have the heart topunish him for his misdeeds, which were much too often, but for once. My landlord , Mr Bose, used tocome on a fixed date every month to collect the rentand some how I did not like him at all. Endowed with akeen sense of observation that comes naturally to adog, Appu could guess my feelings and could not to lerate my land lord and I had to put him on leash every month he came. One month I forgot to chain himand the moment Mr Bose stepped inside Appu startedgrowling,. My landlord got scared and backed out quickly and that was his undoing. Appu went after him and made him run for cover with his heart in his mouth. Passers by look looked at him with suspicion as they saw him running out of my house, his belly sticking out, with a dog at his heels. The incident took only two to three minutes and by that time I took control of the situation and rebuked Appu sternly and held him back by his collar. Once safely out of our gate and Appu under my control, Mr Bose shouted from the street “madam, this is too much. Why do you keep a dog if you cannot control him. Either you train your dog or vacate my house”. He stood there fuming with rage. People witnessing the little scene got a free entertainment. I got so angry, I did what I had never done before. I beat Appu mercilessly with his own leash. But Appu took the beating lying down. I satdown on the floor, throwing away the leash andweeping. Two year old Appu was all over me, licking and sniffing me, disturbed to see me cry. I took his soft worm body to my bosom and asked for forgiveness, hating myself. I never beat him after that. Thus through good and bad two of us lived. Before meeting Appu I never knew that such friendship, bond and affection could exist between a human being a canine.I saw Appu grew up into a handsome dog. But time flew and only in eleven years the little puppy grew old.For the last few months Appu was not keeping well, skipping meals. I called the vet and he said Appu was dying. He had a cancerous grown in his tummy and itwas in an advanced stage. The said point that he was suffering like hell. He was deteriorating fast and itwas quite evident that he was in great pain. He wouldwag his tail gently and try to lift his head when Icalled him by name. The doctor advised me to put himto sleep. There was no point in keeping him alive fora few more months and let him suffer. After a few sleepless nights and after watching helplessly how Appur suffered I called the vet. I took Appu on mylap. When the doctor pushed in injection Appu lookedat me for the last time. I knew for certain he realized that we were parting. After the vet left Isat with his body on my lap. My mind went back tonearly fifty years. I was only five and we went to visit my grandfather. He lived alone with his dog, Peter. Peter was my grandfather’s pet, just as Appu was mine. Peter would let me cuddle him and play with his ball. I do not know how old was he but he appeared quite big to me. For some days I heard Peter was sick.He stopped taking meals and would remain hidden underthe bed all the time. Grandfather brought the vet and after he was gone I was not allowed to go near Peter.I heard he had a disease, which sounded like rabbit tome (of course now I know). The next day I woke upearly, it was nearly down. From my bedroom window Isaw Peter was sitting chained at the back yard.Grandfather stood before him with his hunting rifle.Peter was looking at grandfather, it seemed to me,with a strange appeal in his eyes and in a moment therifle went off, the bullet hitting Peter in the middleof his forehead. I was shocked and horrified, so muchso, I never asked any body about Peter or the incident.From that day onwards I looked at my grandfather as a murder and hated him and I refused to visit him evenwhen he was in his deathbed.
With Appu’s lifeless body on my lap, I cried for forgiveness of my grandfather. How he must havesuffered to pull the trigger on Peter. It took fifty years for me to learn the truth. You could never knowthe agony and the ecstasy of keeping a pet unless you actually have one.

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