Not a dog to boast of. A mere non-descript, without a flamboyant pedigree. Sheer coincidence brought me in contact with him.
In 1986, I was transferred to Rohru – a remote interior of Shimla District H.P. My presence was for the purpose of establishing a new polytechnic institute there.
It was a political decision. To keep the local population in good humour and to appear the leadership cares for their collective aspiration.
Except a two storied building with fifteen empty rooms there was nothing else. People from the plains may find it difficult to conjure up such a scenario.
Principal’s temporary accommodation was a two room flat meant for Junior Engineers of the PWD – still under construction, because, the first floor was yet to be completed. It was located on a high ridge overlooking Pabbar river enfolding a grand panoramic view of the valley.
My neighbour was Banarsi Zinta. All surnames ending with ‘ta’ are found in that area. He had a dog, well-built, with brown coat and ferocious eyes named Moti. I decided to befriend him in a bid to avoid any untoward encounter while coming and going. I baptized him with a respectable name Kuttaji in keeping with Indian traditional custom. Soon, he got used to his new name with us – the honourary masters. We used to give him food three times a day – during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Two important things I learnt from him are: the severity of conditioning and the ways of intuition. He was taught – not by any formal training -- not to enter a house. I couldn’t make him enter my house by every possible inducement. He won’t cross a threshold of a residential accommodation under any circumstances. The other thing, he won’t drink water from a bowl. He would drink only, if it is poured in the drain. Could this give a clue to the understanding of the type of conditioning of the Khap panchayats and anti Dalit activists?
Strangely enough, he doesn’t have any qualms entering my office on the first floor. He would comfortably sit by the side of my table. If any staff tries to prevent him from entering, he would gnash his teeth and growl. How could he distinguish between a home and an office? In the former he is not supposed to enter and in the latter there is no such bar. How he could pinpoint my room on the first floor?
By that time Rohru was cut off from TV. For the entertainment of students we used to play some movie on the VCR. I too used to watch the film shows with my wife. The shows are arranged in a big hall on the first floor. The students used to sit on a carpet on the floor surrounding me and my wife on chairs. Sometimes, Kuttaji would come, make his way -- without hesitation -- through the crowd of students and take position by the side of me.
Whenever I was away on tour he would invariably guard my wife throughout the night. How does he guess my presence or absence? He could sense my transfer also. He was sleeping all the while under the truck getting loaded with my belongings. Is it what called intuition? Probably, there is always some sort of vibration going around the universe; if somebody can tune in to a particular frequency he gets the clue. How to crack the mystery, that's the problem?
I learnt two more things from him: fostering favouritism and cultivating moral values. My wife planted some saplings of a variety of giant size Dahlia in front of our house. Once, some cattle began devouring them. Kuttaji also joined the chase along with my wife. But, on nearing the cattle he made an honourable retreat. The peculiar behaviour baffled us initially. Soon, it became clear: the cows belonged to his master, how can he be unfaithful to his master? On the other hand, the cows are his kin by virtue of belonging to the same master, so they can be allowed to eat up the plants. Favouritism has a space for animals also.
On another occasion, we returned from Shimla at dead of night. Leaving the vehicle down, we took the bridal path uphill to our house. Kuttaji was keeping a watch on our house. Hearing the footsteps he began barking furiously. Seeing us on arrival, he felt so ashamed; he tried to hide his face all around the compound. Later, he fell at the feet of my wife with two folded forelegs, as if asking for forgiveness for his misdemeanor. It was unbelievably true.
He never tried to enter principal’s Bungalow, built later down below