- RAJGOPAL KRISHNAMURTHI
A jump that triggered two
The sixth avenue, the broadest in the locality, had its share of potholes too. It was 5.30 am.
The overnight downpour had ensured that every trough, despite its dimensions, was filled to the brim.
Dressing up for the weather can, at times, leave you dazzling. The caption on my cap read,
“Just do it,” and the tick on top of the caption approved the recommendation. My dark blue
jeans were in awe of the jacket I paired it with, and the large attractive boots completed the list. I was neither out on a date nor on the lookout for someone who could seal the deal. I was just starting to my office.
Shops, bungalows, and residential complexes flanked the two hundred metres stretch leading to the junction close to the bus stop. One of the residential premises, located a hundred metres from home, was devoid of a gate. The vacant space inside was home to a few stray dogs; they were usually harmless, but you never know.
As I neared the quarters, I could see one of the dogs sleeping at the entrance. Unlike his
counterparts, this dog had the habit of sleeping in the middle of the pathway at the entrance. It wasn’t a display of the “go past me at your own risk” attitude. His small frame and stature didn’t support the cause either.
With the weather calling the shots, the road bore a deserted look. I wasn’t rushing, but the
pace at which I operated didn’t depict a laid-back approach. Failing to notice a pool of water on time, a few metres before the quarters, I had to jump over to avoid landing my boots in water.
The evasive action that ended with a loud sound, courtesy of my large boots striking the road with force, shook the little dog instantly. Nobody would fancy waking up to a disturbance; the little creature was no exception.
He got up in a flash and ran for cover, fearing a possible assault. The sudden rush of blood
had its consequences. He slipped into a pit full of water, jumped out of it quickly, only to bang on an auto-rickshaw parked in the vicinity. Having lost balance again, he rolled on the road, rose to his feet, ran fiercely, and sprang into another auto-rickshaw. Out flew a cat, shell-shocked, landing directly on a milkman who had just entered the road from a nearby lane. Jolted by the cat’s act, he let the churn down, spilling the milk all over. The poor man left the scene dejected while the cat returned for its share of the spilled milk. The action that lasted for a minute was extremely amusing, but deep down, I was concerned about my safety; an aftermath was the last thing I wanted.
The little dog was still barking. Was that a message to his companions? I would be in dire
straits then. How I wished I had the power to decode the sound that lacked consistency. Having stopped walking, I wasn’t ready to start again. Staying idle for long wasn’t going to help either.
Gathering courage, I slowly moved forward. Sensing my footsteps, he peeped out. Seeing me walk in the direction of the auto-rickshaw, he leaped out of the vehicle, sprinted towards the junction, turned left, and disappeared, not knowing he would soon bump into me—the bus stop too was at the left of the junction.
As I inched forward, I could sense a rapid increase in the intensity of barking. Soon I knew he
wasn’t alone. He had sneaked into a park, only to find a bunch of his companions enjoying their breakfast fed by an old man. His entry didn’t go well with them as they chased him out for gatecrashing the party. The poor dog rushed back to the junction, and the territory rules were back in place.
Luckily, the bus I had to take slowed down near the junction, and I was quick to get into it.
Unable to spot the little animal through the window, I settled on a seat and thought about the way the incident unfolded. The sound of my boots, my attire, and the long umbrella I carried would have sent shivers down his spine the moment he opened his eyes. It wasn’t my fault, but would he ever believe?
It was seven in the evening. The moment I got down from the bus with a loaf of bread and a
pack of biscuits in hand, I saw him crashing on a bicycle after being bullied by a group of
irresponsible young men. The little dog had a torrid start to the day, and it looked like things
hadn’t improved at all.
As he strolled towards the quarters, all he wanted was a gentle pat on his back. I moved
behind him, maintaining a fair distance. I was neither wearing the cap nor the jacket, and the
umbrella was neatly placed inside the bag I carried to the office. I had to pose harmless.
I allowed him to settle in his favourite spot before proceeding towards him. For a moment, he looked puzzled. He wasn’t ready for another showdown. The food I carried settled his nerves.
The way he ate indicated he had been starving. Seeing me leave, he wagged his tail—probably for the first time in the day.
The next day, I carried a cup and a bottle full of milk to break his fast. He wasn’t around,
though. I wouldn’t have walked a few metres after leaving the cup at the entrance when I heard him barking; it was a signal acknowledging my gesture. I turned and saw him happily drinking the milk. I continued to walk towards the bus stop. In a moment, he was by my side, wagging his tail vigorously, barking at the vehicles that passed by, assuring protection of the highest order. I knew this was the beginning of a genuine relationship. It happened to be so.