That was the first morning after my retirement. When I opened the main gate I saw a little pup looking at me as if she was asking for food. May be she was few months old and had been deserted by her mother. I went inside and brought a piece of bread and gave it to her and from that day on our relationship started much to the annoyance of my wife and children. They would say—“Street dogs are infected with rabies you should not touch them.”
But the dog would come exactly at 1:30 pm for a handful of rice and at 9 pm for her dinner. That way time rolled by and she grew up to a moderate size “Bingo” dog. My wife, who was against this street dog, started giving her food during my absence. She nick named her as “Chiknna” meaning “Smooth and Shiny”. Chiknna became pregnant before she was one year old, gave birth to three little ones and brought them for me to see and admire. One fine morning I found Chiknna crying and howling in front of my gate, I knew that she was missing her pups. Later on I came to know that the pups were taken away by someone to feed the guests who had come for the National Youth Festival.
Like all animals she too forgot about her kids and came back to her normal shape. She would guard all the houses in the colony and pay special attention to my house. She would accompany me when I went out for an evening walk with my two little spitz dogs. She became an eye sore to other street dogs. She was soon isolated and this became a problem for her.
When she was three years old she became pregnant again and we fed her whatever we could so that her children would become strong. This time she delivered five lovely pups inside a small mud enclosure. The delivery timing was horribly bad. Cold winds with intermittent rains made her weak as she could not come out for food. We thought this time all her pups would die due to this adverse condition but the sky cleared and Chiknna came for her share of food from us. Extra rice was cooked for her so that she could feed her children. My wife who initially was objecting to feeding street dogs rice and roti her self-started cooking more for them, after all being a mother she knew what motherly love is.
The five pups survived, she changed her place to a safer zone near our house. The pups were two months old when Chiknna stopped coming for her usual food. Both of us were worried- ‘What has happened to her? Is she sick? Has she been bitten by a snake? Has some one poisoned her? Our fears were justified after a day. Chiknna came exactly at 1:30 pm but could not eat anything served to her, the legs were weak, she gave a pathetic look at us and probably said ‘’someone has poisoned me, take care of my five kids”. With a stumbling gait she left our house and fell flat near a field so that her children would not see her mother dying.
With tears streaming down her cheeks, my wife plucked two of her choicest roses which she wouldn’t have parted in any season or for any reason and giving them to me said, “Go and put it on Chiknna.”
I thought to my self-how cruel people could be even to a man’s best friend?
Chiknna’s dead body was lying there and no one cared to do anything about it. With lots of difficulty my wife could inform the municipality office, but instead of helping us they started shouting at us –why you are informing us so late?”
Hours passed by no one came; we had forgotten it was a Saturday. I decided I couldn’t wait to see Chiknna’s body putrefy. I put on hair dyeing gloves and placed the body of Chiknna inside the large card board which was lying unutilized in the store room. I put the box in my car and took it to a far-off place and buried Chiknna in a big ditch.
I Came back home, took a bath and washed the cloths which I was wearing during the burial. I prayed to God for her soul to rest in peace.
Its nine PM now and I have to stop writing and go feed those five innocent souls waiting for their mother.
When I returned from my office around eight thirty, tired and exhausted, was astonished not to find my son in front of the television set .After I changed my clothes and refreshed my self for a cup of coffee, I asked my wife Sunita where is Sandip?
‘Oh he is busy with an air riffle he has brought through his credit card.
‘But what the hell he is doing with a riffle at home?’
‘He wants to become a shooter” my wife Sunita replied.
“But he wanted to become a cricketer like Dhoni for which we brought goods worth forty five thousands for what?”
‘Call him for dinner, I will ask him what’s this all about?’
“Sandip are you mad or what? Shooting in side house?”
“Dad, don’t you follow the Olympics?’
“Yes I do”
“That’s exactly what I wanted to tell you, first you change my name which should start with a capital A and then send me for training to Texas’
“Then what about your cricket?”
“That’s a team game I may be dropped like Ganguly, here there is no such thing”
“But I am not rich like Bindra’s father?”
‘So what I have already arranged for my mentor and sponsors.’
‘But who will be your mentor and financier?
“Of course Lalu Prasad will be my mentor cum coach and Mittal will finance me”
“But why Lalu Prasad?”
“He knows all the tricks of the game so I am going to win the next gold at Delhi common wealth games.”
“What about your studies?”
“Dad, how much our grandfather, uncles, you and all your other sons, who all became professors after twenty years of job have earned? In the same breath he told it may not touch few lakhs or at best few crores.”
“But what that has to do with your studies?”
“That’s exactly what I was going to tell you. Have you ever been invited to meet the PM or the President of India in his official residence for dinner? No never, not in near future, but they will call me to have a photograph with me not the other way round when you the senior professors make a stampede for a photo when they visit your university’
“But, it needs lots of practice and dedication?’
“Yes, after years and years of hard labor and high marks there is no escape from the reservation menace, there is no guarantee of a bright future but getting selected for the commonwealth games and Olympics means a lot.’
“But what is the guarantee of your selection?’
“Leave that to me I will manage” was my son’s prompt reply.
“So you want to become an Olympian?
“Yes dad, exactly that?’
“Do you know the price of a gold medal?’ I asked my son.
“Yes, it’s only $300”
“But getting one is really difficult, son,”
So what, I get free train ride, all chief ministers will pay few lacs for cheap popularity, Mittals will donate crores, Tata will donate it’s first NANO to me, I do not have to pay income tax, steel products will be sold at a subsided rates to me, I will get a “Bharat Ratna” award and media and TV channels will flash you photos along with all my brothers and sisters for months and I will write my autobiography “How to win a gold medal”, then I will become an USA citizen and migrate. What more you want from your so called good for nothing fellow son?’
Sunita shouted” Are you dreaming? You are getting late for office.”