It’s quite a strange evening in my life. Nothing funny. Nothing amusing.
I’m sorry little puppy, but I need to write this down.
Just half an hour ago, my dad and I walked to a dark, dingy railway track with a shovel, a metal rod and a heavy sack. The sack grew heavier by the minute. Strange, because the content of the sack wasn’t as heavy just ten minutes before. It was light. It was also hungry and scared.
I had taken it home, given it biscuits and some warmth.
Now, it lies under two feet of mud, a mere bundle of fur and body.
It’s strange how life changes with the blink of an eye, isn’t it?
My evening started as usual. I got home at 7. It had just stopped raining.
Before I could even take my helmet off, my dad said, “Did you see the new puppy? It was outside the house just half an hour ago. You won’t believe it! It looks just like your dog!”
“What!” I exclaimed, a wide grin forming on my face. I threw my bag down right on the door mat, took my helmet off and ran to the next road. My mum, who was probably thinking, Oh God here she goes again! shouted after me saying, “Swathi! Don’t bring the puppy home! Play with it wherever it is and come!”
This was the usual drill when someone told me about a puppy in the vicinity. I always ran after it, my mother always shouted after me. I ran although I knew I couldn’t keep it. No one is at home to take care of it. We all work. Even my current dog half lives inside and outside the house. I can’t manage another one.
But I ran anyway. I found the puppy. She was adorable. She had big black eyes. I went up to her cautiously, trying not to scare her. It took about ten minutes to gain her trust. She finally let me scratch her ear. But she kept running away, on the road, after people who she thought had food with them. That’s when I realised she was really hungry.
I picked her up to bring her home. She was shivering. As I carried her, a young man came up to me. He had a DSLR in one hand and a veg roll in another. He introduced himself as Sameer, said he has a blog and asked if he could click a picture of me and the puppy. Instinct told me that he was a nice enough guy and I let him click a bunch of pictures.
He asked me what I was going to do with the puppy. I said I’d call a few people, try and get it adopted. He was visibly impressed. He said, “You do this with all puppies you find?” I said this was the first one I was trying to get adopted. “The previous puppy I found stayed with me, and still does,” I smiled.
As I had said, I came home, put the puppy down and called Let’s Live Together hoping to leave the puppy there for the night. While the phone rang, I saw the puppy walk all over the house leaving tiny paw prints behind. I called six times and no one answered. So I clicked a picture of the puppy, posted it on Bombat Dawgz, asking if someone wanted to adopt it. After that, I gave the puppy five Parle G biscuits. She ate hungrily.
After this, the puppy started scratching the door and whining. She wanted to go out. I let her go out thinking she wanted to pee or poop. I didn’t go with her. After all, she had been on the streets ever since she was born. I would go back out after changing my clothes and bring her back in.
Meanwhile, Supriya called me up. I spoke to her and told her about the puppy. Told her how I ran after it, told her how my mom shouted when I brought it home. We both laughed. “How typical of you and your mom!” she laughed.
Then my dad called out to me from outside. “Swathi! Your puppy is here roaming around! Come and take her,” he shouted to me.
I gleefully hung up, and was getting down the stairs to the main door, when I heard a blood-curdling scream from the road. Another louder scream followed. My mom looked at me with terror in her eyes. “I think someone’s chain got snatched!” she said to me.
I ran out.
But before I even went out, somehow, I knew what had happened – exactly what I had dreaded.
Five people stood on the other side of the road, crowded around a small bundle on the floor. I crossed the road, still without my slippers. Just like my first meeting with the puppy, I took cautious steps. This time, not because the puppy was scared, but because I was scared. I saw a man take a water bottle and pour it into the small heap that lay there.
I went to take a closer look. I don’t know what exactly the man said. Maybe it was “She’s gone.” “It’s dead.” I don’t know. All I remember was running across the road, back towards my house, wailing and unable to control myself. I ran straight up to my room, wailed and wailed into my pillow, shouted at myself for letting the puppy go out.
But then, I had to get my act together. Still wailing, I went out, back to the road. By now, all my neighbours had come out listening to the screams and my wailing. I ran towards the puppy. Sat next to her. I stroked her belly. It was still warm.
There was no blood. The bike probably ran over its neck and snapped it clean. It had died in a second. No one heard a whine or whimper.
I looked around me. The girl sitting next to me was a friend from yoga class, Veena. She has adopted a dog herself and dotes over dogs. Another girl I saw weeping across the road was Saraswathi, a girl known all over Malleswaram for her love for dogs. It was strange that the three of us had to be there at that spot, consoling each other.
My dog, Piccolo and Veena’s dog circled the dead puppy, sniffing at it and fussing about. My dad said my dog had been playing with the puppy earlier in the evening. It depressed me.
We sat by the dog for some more time. Another lady came by, with her daughter, and asked if she could help by taking the puppy to the vet. She didn’t know the puppy was already dead.
Then my dad came. I suggested we bury the dog. My dad said we could bury it near the railway track. The shopkeeper nearby gave us a big gunny bag. I didn’t want to touch the dog anymore. My dad took the bag and put the puppy into the bag. He handed the sack to me. I lifted it. I was shocked at the weight. I told Veena that I’d make sure the puppy was buried properly and that she could go home without worrying. She went home weeping.
It’s strange to think that all this happened within ten minutes. The photographs clicked by the blogger, the biscuits, the phone call, the scream.
I carried the sack home, then saw my mom. She was bursting with guilt for shouting at me when I brought the puppy. She wept. “I should’ve never shouted at you and asked you to take the puppy out. I’m so sorry.” My heart really went out to her and I just gave her a long hug. It wasn’t her fault. Once guilt gets to you, it becomes the dripping faucet at the back of your mind. I wasn’t going to let anyone blame themselves. Even my dad was already blaming himself.
But he’s a brave man. He took me to the railway track. Both of us dug a three-feet-deep hole. “Should we bury it with the gunny bag?” he asked.
I said no.
“I can’t bear to look if we take it out of the sack,” he said. My heart went out to him this time.
I said I’d do it. I emptied the gunny bag. It was dark, so I couldn’t really see the puppy. She was just a tiny, black and white bundle. My dad was turning away. I told the puppy I’m sorry.
We covered her with mud. My dad mentioned “Hanuman” something. I didn’t quite catch him. I was about to burst into tears, but I fought them back. I had to stay brave for his sake. I just said “Rest in peace puppy,” under my breath and left.
We rode back. When I reached home and opened the door, I saw the puppy’s tiny paw prints on my floor.
I took a cold shower. I deleted the “Up for adoption” post from Bombat Dawgz.
I was and still am too shocked to do or say anything more. I don’t know how to react, whether I should cry some more or just assume a matter-of-fact tone. My voice is coming out straight, but my hands won’t stop shivering.
I’m on the borderline between blaming myself for the loss of a life and blaming it on fate. But the more I brood over it, the more depressed I’m going to get.
All I can say to console myself is that the puppy is in a better place now.
And hopefully, resting in peace.
I’m glad whoever is reading this is with me to share my joys and sorrows equally. Thank you for sticking to the end. Don’t let this ruin your day. Hundreds of puppies die everyday like this. You can’t change the past. You can’t undo what happened even what happened ten seconds ago. Just tell yourself they’re all in a better place now. But the next time you see a stray puppy, make sure you take it into your house, come what may, and keep it in your house till you find a foster home or a permanent home for it.
Don’t make the same mistake I made.