• RAJGOPAL KRISHNAMURTHI

A friend in need is a friend indeed!


It was the first day of a long holiday. A strenuous fortnight with the semester exams had

just ended. Despite the mental fatigue, Gowtham was up from his bed as early as five in the

morning. It had been his routine for years, and he did not want to miss out on feeling the

early morning breeze that waited to greet him the moment he stepped out of his room to the open terrace.


Gowtham’s home, one of the oldest in the street, remained a cynosure of all residents in

the locality. The vast space at the front of the building could easily accommodate three cars

and still provide space for a game of cricket. More spacious was the backyard, a home to a

variety of plants, where two huge mango trees stood opposite to each other, embracing the

little lemon tree and the slightly bigger papaya tree, spreading their branches as a

semblance to celebrating togetherness and happily providing shelter to the other smaller

plants in the garden. The long strips at the sides of the building, ideally suited for a jog, often served as a track for a lazy stroll every morning.


The interiors of the building would speak volumes on the taste of the residents, be it the

long wooden sofa in the living room or the huge windows in the kitchen and the dining room, not to forget the antique furniture in the hall at the entrance.

Imagine cooking in a space illuminated by sunlight with a beautiful garden in the

backdrop. Even on days when Gowtham had to dine alone, there would never be a dull

moment at the dining hall, with the little sparrows that sat on the window grills keeping

company.


Gowtham preferred to sleep in one of the bedrooms on the first floor whenever he longed

for solitude. With his favourite jacket on, he would spend hours together on the terrace under the watchful eyes of the stars; “nights are a bliss”—he would always say. You wouldn’t deny it if you had stayed in one of his favourite rooms. Pomo, his four-year-old Pomeranian, and its two little puppies would often be around whenever Gowtham was at home.


Sitting on the stairs leading to the main door, Gowtham was relishing his cup of coffee

and looking at the parrots seated on the wooden gate, the distance keeping the birds

comfortable and focussed on the grains in the small tray attached to the gate. Feeding them

is a habit that has remained his priority till date.


It was 6 am when Gowtham got up from the stairs and started to walk towards the

backyard. Pomo had just finished drinking a bowl of milk and as usual, joined Gowtham.

After spending around thirty minutes in the garden, Gowtham decided to run around the

building. Pomo, too, was ready after a few stretches, reminding Gowtham to warm up before

the jog. Devoid of any exercise for the entire two weeks, it was high time that he fixed his

routine.


After the first round, Pomo was getting restless. What started as a faint noise instantly

intensified into aggressive barking, surprising Gowtham as he wasn’t able to pacify Pomo

with the usual instructions that invariably worked when put to practice. Gowtham pretended

to look for a stick. The intent was to control Pomo; never had he hurt Pomo before, and

never will he resort to it at any point in time. How could he be harsh on Pomo? After all, it is

his favourite pet.


When he bent down to show his eagerness in finding a stick, Pomo grabbed his track

pants and started pulling him. This was extreme aggression, something that Gowtham had

never experienced before. He shouted at Pomo and chased his little companion. They were

now close to the gate. Pomo wasn’t settled yet, though the intensity of barking had come

down drastically.


Gowtham warned Pomo to stay where it was and turned back to continue jogging. Pomo

was again at his pants, pulling violently, this time around. “Enough is enough,” said

Gowtham as he caught hold of Pomo. Before he could move a bit, a loud sound shook him,

sending shock waves through his body. Gowtham quickly shifted his attention in the direction from which the sound originated. What he witnessed caused a shiver down his spine.


One of the trees from his neighbour’s house had crashed on the compound wall adjacent

to the track, damaging the wall and the flower pots placed along the track. Unable to take his eyes from the tree, Gowtham looked perplexed. It was 6.45 am. The loud sound had donned the role of an alarm clock to his neighbours and his family members, who rushed to see what had happened.


Gowtham now looked at Pomo with tears in his eyes. A shaken Pomo licked him on his

face. He felt like his little friend was wiping his tears off and assuring him of safety at all

times. Gowtham hugged Pomo tightly and planted a kiss on its forehead. The tiny creature

had risked its life and pulled him out of peril. It was a display of its exceptional capacity to

sense impending danger, and it did not run away from the spot after sensing the threat.

Pomo was on a mission that none other could accomplish.


The people who had gathered at the location were in awe of Pomo’s brilliance as

Gowtham narrated the incident in his typical style. Before anyone could get close to the spot, Pomo jumped out of Gowtham’s hands, ran to the action site, and started inspecting the debris. This little beauty, touted as a timid breed, was presenting itself with all the valour in the world. It was showered with accolades it rightfully deserved.


The sight of the two puppies joining Pomo in his quest was a treat to the eyes. Gowtham

quickly picked them up and carried them to his room. Pomo happily followed him and sat

beside him on the floor. There was a sense of accomplishment in its eyes.


All these days, Gowtham had thought that Pomo was safe under his vigilance. Never did

he know that Pomo was always by his side for reasons Pomo alone knew. When it was time

for breakfast, Gowtham got up from his chair. His eyes fell on one of the posters on the wall

he had pasted a few days before the start of his exams. He looked at the poster with a spark

in his eyes. He then looked at Pomo, who was lying just below the poster. He patted Pomo

on its back with gratitude and read out loud what featured on the poster— “Never ever give

up” was a quote that found a new brand ambassador in Pomo, and the gentle wag of its tail

when Gowtham recited the words said it all.

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