Charlie, a companion of our all weather days

Mrs. Sharma had recently shifted to our neighborhood with her sons, Prabhakar and Diwakar. She was widow and used to work in post office. Prabhakar bhaiya was pursuing his M.Sc., Maths and Diwakar was studying in 10th std. Mom had gathered this information from other neighborhood aunts while we were playing outside our home that evening. It was summer vacation and we were allowed to indulge in these discussions.

Prabhakar bhaiya was quite dashing. There was an amazing aura in his personality. He was very polite and we got impressed the moment he had returned our ball once it hit his window pane.

“Mishra ji was suggesting Prabhakar, from the same new family in our neighborhood”, Dad told mom. Mom replied, “Yes, Meena was telling me that the guy is pursuing his M.Sc.” The discussion was to decide our new tutor.

We all were happy. “Prabhakar bhaiya! Wow, he doesn’t look like our maths teacher.” I said. Next day he came to our home and greeted us with a smile. Dad asked him about his favorite subject and he replied, “Mathematics.” We were astonished, “Can somebody really love mathematics?” First week of next month and we had got our mentor. The influence of his personality had captured our head and we started admiring him a lot. The person who heralds “Mathematics” as his favorite subject with utmost confidence leaves no doubt to be genius. We started imitating him, his speech, his hand writing etc.

He had a doggy, Sheru, a German shepherd breed whom he had included in some of his routine discussions. “It would have been glamorous as a habit to walk with Sheru”, we used to believe. For some reasons I get motivated by the habits of legends. Newton also had a dog, might be a legendary hobby!

He had guided us for more than 5 years and then shifted to Delhi with his mom. He got a good job in Delhi and his mom had taken voluntarily retirement. We learnt to study without him as the time passed however it was difficult and had claimed its toll on our mark sheets. 

Not more than 2 years passed and destiny had taken a decision for us however we believed that it was ours.

One of our relative’s pet had given birth to four puppies and we happily agreed to adopt one without even taking permission from dad. It all went along much anticipated way, dad got annoyed and said, “Taming a dog is a luxury; moreover a pom dog wouldn’t worth having a dog even from a security view point.” Putting this perspective he asked us to return him immediately. I sat on bhaiya’s bike carrying him on my lap and bhaiya was riding the bike. It was getting heavy on my heart as if puppy wanted to say, “let me stay with you guys, I would love being with you and will never create problems for you.” He was a ten days old Pomeranian breed, a cute white fur puppy. I asked bhaiya, “Don’t you find him cute, and do you really want to return him?” And bhaiya had taken about turn.   

Nobody was sure whether it was a right decision. Dad was annoyed, mom was concerned and we were happy. A little cute member had come to stay with us. This was the first time when I and bhaiya had same opinion in recent history. I was observing his every move. It was so pleasant to watch him and his every move. We had given him a small den under our stairs. An old bed sheet and two aluminum pots were arranged for him; thanks to mom. We didn’t bother to the questions dad had raised, “Who will take care of him, taking him for walk, bowels, meals etc? It’s not a cup of tea for a middle class family; these are status symbols for high class people. They have servants to take care of their pets.”

We named him Charlie. There was only one topic to discuss, Charlie. We used to bombard our guests with lengthy descriptions of his naughty activities. Soon Charlie mixed with us and started loving us more than we did. He started learning pet’s etiquettes such as where to answer his nature calls. Mom never allowed him to enter puja room and kitchen and he never crossed borders even if nobody was watching. He never had mistaken to recognize the horn of bhaiya’s scooter. He used to welcome dad and bhaiya with a smile and dancing tail every evening when they return from their respective offices.

Bhaiya used to say, “This young puppy might not have got a good luck like others. I’ve seen many sitting inside big cars, roaming in the lawn of bungalows and eating meat.” Now after years I couldn’t inculcate whose luck was being pondered. But yes, we couldn’t provide him the luxury of car, well tiled lawn or meat for sure in his early years.

In spite of being a Pom breed he never failed to lambast on stray dogs. He was getting mature and bhaiya used to say, “Our Charlie is having an image of angry young man among the community of stray dogs.” “Dudh-Roti” was his daily meal but like any other pampered child he also required somebody to persuade him to ingest his meal.

He had long white hair and was difficult to manage on his bath day. Bhaiya used to take him to roof top for bath. He used to look frail after having a bath. His habit of shaking his body rapidly to get rid of water droplets used to irritate bhaiya every time. He used to say pouring sarcasm in his words, “Na jhatko julf se paani.” Though we all loved him a lot, the responsibility of taking care of him was broadly on bhaiya’s shoulders.

Running away from the chain and roaming round the park was his favorite activity and it used to take us hours to catch him again.

Years passed and bhaiya’s marriage was decided, we all had purchased many party wear attires. Bhaiya had bought a fashionable dog collar and sparkling chain for him. He never barked at bhabhi, probably he understood it well that she is his master’s better half and deserves reverence. Though we are not wired to understand meanings of dog’s various gestures but we always tried to understand him in all situations.

Bhaiya got a good job and got busy in his schedule. I on the other hand got selected in a business school and left home and started staying in hostel. We were on growing path. Our home got renovated and bhaiya bought a car. A lot had changed and Charlie was witnessing it all.

In his later years his life became painful when some stray dogs denied to accept his supremacy and attacked him. Charlie got serious injuries and we all were sad for him. Bhaiya had taken him to doctor where he was given first aid. It had taken months for him to recover. All those days were very miserable, for him as he was suffering from the wounds and for us as we were having empathy for him.

There were times when we shouted on him for his silly mistakes but he never got irritated or bored with us. He always wanted to play with us but we seldom got enough time. He was weakened after the deadly attack of vagabonds. Charlie could never gain the same energy again. Due to stagnation and inability to walk frequently he got prone to various other diseases which had spelled doom for him.

He was a companion of our all weather days, he had lived it all. Though he couldn’t speak our language but he got happy in our happiness and mourned when we were sad.
His memories left us with tears. We had never thought that affection with anybody results in such a hurting emotional blow, even if he was not a human.            

- Amit Roop

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