It rained heavily the next day and on waking up I quietly peered out of the window to see what the Spitz was up to. I cringed when I saw him lying there, curled up and blankly staring into the space, drenched from the rains of the previous night. Later that day, I broached the subject to the owner and she replied,"Oh, he will just die one day! He’s very old!" My blood boiled but I kept my cool and told her it was cruel to think that and to keep him tied up all day. And the matter ended. Day by day my curiosity grew.He was ferocious and I just didn't know how to help him until one evening I decided to do something about it! I didn't care if he tore me up. I wouldn’t give up without a fight. I stepped into the terrace, inching towards him as he growled and spat at me. My heart was in my mouth but I ignored him. After a few hours he grew tired and gradually calmed down. Now we had reached a stage where we both ignored each other. I drew up a chair cautiously and sat at a distance, facing him, as he weighed me cautiously while I smiled and uttered sweet nothings. A little later, his curiosity having got the better of him, he started to whine and then in a split second decision, I walked up to him and gave him my hand. Gods must be crazy because he held my hand with both his front paws and started to lick me, whelping with joy as he did so. The ice was broken!Thereafter I asked the lady to let me walk him and after some persuasion, she reluctantly agreed. Three years was a long time and it was about time he saw some freedom. At first he was clumsy. After three years of being cooped up he floundered as I led him out. In a rush of excitement, he tumbled down the stairs and I tumbled down after him, both of us bumping our noses against the wall. Years of bondage had not erased his memory. He knew where he wanted to go and I followed as he led. There was a beautiful open garden at the back of the bungalow, where trees had been left unmeddled. It was like an oasis in a concrete desert. And there, I named him Rocky, as we sat with our tongues hanging out, after hours of running around. In the days that followed, I slowly got the lady to change his diet and his regime. I promised her Rocky would behave and that he would be my responsibility from then on until I took him with me when I left.
Gradually Rocky reclaimed his life. Over time,we became inseparable and did everything together. Life was serene as Rocky lay by my side, silently breathing into the night. I watched him lovingly while he slept. He wouldn't leave me for a second until I sat down to study. Somehow, Rocky always knew that studying meant serious business and he'd make himself scarce while I studied. My friend loved him and visited us from time to time. One day, the three of us decided to go to Bandstand and had the time of our lives eating junk food and sitting on the rocks, by the Arabian Sea. It must've been tiring too because Rocky and I slept like logs that night. A year later, Rocky waved goodbye to the lady as we took him to my friend’s home where he would live temporarily until I returned to Mumbai. By then Rocky had been to the vet twice. His hair had been trimmed and he was a brand new fella.He whined desperately when he saw me leave and between sobs and tears, I promised to return.
A month later when I got back, Rocky refused to recognize me. I stood at a distance, hurt by his behavior & helplessly watched him growl at me. The doctor said he was losing his memory. Under the circumstance, I decided that it was best to leave him be at my friend’s place. Besides, he had grown really close to their family. With a heavy heart, I agreed because I knew Rocky had made a life for himself there. I have a nagging suspicion it was not so much a failing memory that made Rocky disown me, as it was his fear that I'd take him back to the bungalow. We’ll never know. I visited him from time to time but we remained estranged. Months later, I was told Rocky had a weak heart and a few weeks later, he passed away. For three years, Rocky had been abandoned in his own home by his own people and had reconciled to his miserable fate. Did that dog have a weak heart? He had the strongest heart in my eyes. How would you and I have responded to such a fate? Would we have sulked and never trusted again? Or would we have embraced life once again as Rocky did? Animals know that life owes them nothing. If only we could learn from them.
About the Author
Manisha Hariharan is a businesswoman,corporate trainer,image consultant & writer.She is also a member of People for Animals,Wardha & most importantly a vegan.