“A Dimpy-less life”

Anybody who knows about me, knows about Dimpy. It has always been official and always a pleasure. If you find the english childish or lacking in vocab, do not complain. Today I write for her and I know she wouldn’t mind- my first love.

Even as tears stop listening to me and cannot be held back, I write.
“Die , my sweetheart, die. It’s time for you to leave. Go now “. With such words and eyes ebbing of tears I bid Dimpy farewell. It was 2 am in the morning and I was sitting beside her, with her head resting silently in my lap. Caressing her forehead I somehow knew that this was going to be our last meet. Even though I knew that she had lost most of her audile and vocal abilities along with her eyesight, it was clearly visible on her face that she comprehended my message. After a while I went to bed and cried for a few more moments and never knew when I fell asleep and the next day came back to Noida. This was the last time I loved her. This was the last time we talked. This was the first time we separated ………. never to unite again.
Dear friends and dear foes, Dimpy left this world on 11:45 am on 25th July, 2008 – four days after our last interaction. Her condition began deteriorating just after I had requested her to die. She ate less, drank less, slept more and became almost bed-ridden – as if she was convinced that the world held nothing more for her. During her last three days she did not take any meals and refused to drink water or milk. My mother just used to wet her tongue with some ganga-jal (water from the holy Ganges). Her end had arrived and she was ready to leave. But maybe there was something, some unfulfilled desire, a last wish or hope that she was waiting for. On the 25th at 11:30 am my father rang me up to inquire whether I was going to come home that day or not ( they did not tell me about Dimpy’s condition ). Even though some voice at the core of my heart told me that I should go, I said no to him. This was the last mistake I made in her lifetime. …..she was waiting for me, she wanted me to be with her in her last endeavour. As if she came to know I was not coming, fifteen minutes hence she passed out her last breath . 11:45 am – Dimpy died. A phenomenon ended. A death less ordinary.
Dogs don’t die easily, they say . A dog’s death is like a metaphor for the worst of deaths possible. But no, not Dimpy’s death. She died the most silent and peaceful death. She had a beautiful death, just as golden as her life had been. People find it hard to believe but Dimpy was 18 years of age. I do not possess a formal proof for it but she has had been with me since the days she could be picked up by one hand. Since the days she weighed no more than a laptop. I never wanted a troubled end for her. She was having a lot of problems lately. It took her a lot of time to even muster up courage to stand on her feet and sometimes she just could not stand. For the last four years, she was regularly on medicines. Her bones had weakened, eyesight was lost, she hardly uttered anything and could no even hear properly. For such reasons, she had to be kept in chains all the time – something that I strongly disapproved of. She had grown thin and powerless and used to skip meals. These were natural age related problems and I wanted her to leave at the proper time before things went on to be worse for her. After such a wonderful life she had, I did not want see her leaving in pain. My mother is relieved that she died a perfectly natural death. Dimpy was no less than a daughter in disguise for her. Is my mother ashamed that she loved Dimpy as if she would have loved her own daughter? Not at all. Never. She never pretended to love her. She loved her deeply and would never deny that love.
Everybody does not have a best friend. But every dog (or any animal for that matter) is ready to be someone’s best friend. I was a best friend to Dimpy. She meant a world to me and still does. 18 yeras is a long time but it seems as if it were yesterday that we were fooling around the house. There are tales to be told and storybooks to be written about the life we shared. Such a life can spark inspiration in anyone.
Circa 1991. I am small and learning how to ride a bicycle. My father is with me and we stop at some neighbour’s house. There I see Dimpy for the first time ……..she is small too, very small, small enough to be called a pup. But she is quite a handful too. She rivets my attention at once. I always become excited when i see any pup, dog (any animal actually)…even today, although the reasons have changed. We stop there for a moment or two and my eyes remain fixed on her. But she ?Heavens, such attitude !! This was our first interaction. After that I used to go to their house on a regular basis – just for her. I wanted her, in my deepest desires I wanted her. As elders say, and if there is, indeed, some mechanism that listens to a child’s wish on a fast track basis, then I confirm it’s existence. I wanted her and after a few months, I had her. The aforementioned neighbour wanted to sell off Dimpy (retards or what ? ). I heard the news. And I knew my father loved me more than anything else so I explained him in the best possible way all the reasons I could think of for having a dog, all the reasons that an animal-loving small boy could think of at that age ( although today I can write a book on why you must have an animal in your life ). Wow, so great, Dad was on my side. But hey, great love has to overcome great obstacles too – that’s my mom. She’d had some unpleasant experiences back at her place with the dogs when she was a kid ( bites and all ) so she was like – ” why on earth do we want to raise a dog ? “.
It was summer and my mom took me to Gaziabad for vacations. The rest is history. When we came back, Dimpy was already home. I love my dad for what he did.
She was a bundle of hyperactive energy ready to explode anytime the chains went loose. In the previous life, Dimpy was called Jackie. Dimpy was given her name by Lovely bhaiya who initially taught me all the dog basics. Seriously, the initial knowledge I got from him still holds as the fundamental dog basics. In a few months time she had grown big enough to cause a racket around the place. Whenever she got (accidently) unchained she would run, she would run as if she was in some marathon and she had a gold waiting for her, she would run as if her running would inspire people to drop weapons and love each other, as if she was on a running mission, she would run wild and beastly and with full force and energy, letting her libido loose. An unimaginable force. A lightning bolt.
And with such energy around me how could have I resisted change. She had the ability to turn things upside down, topsy-turvy – and my life was not going to be an exception. But I was satisfied. I had a dog, and that too the one I wanted. I no longer had the will to sleep those “extra” two minutes before getting ready for school. She was the reason – she was the first thing that I wanted to see each morning. You can understand how a small boy can get excited beyond limits. But the passion was here to stay. And it did, for 18 short years. Each morning I got up, the first thing I did was to see her. Back then we lived as a joint family. There were too many people around for her to recognize the one. Among all the people who took her for walks and who provided her with meals it was difficult for her to estimate my importance in her life. So, she took me as an almost nobody. For her, I was just a curious boy. Nevertheless, I knew things would change.
Then we moved to another place where Dimpy started acknowledging me since there were just three people for her this time – myself, mommy and papa. She held mom and dad in high regards. But me ?? Naa. She put me equivalent to herself. A dog has respect levels in its brain. The first level belongs to the person(s) whom it considers the master(s) ( mom and dad in this case ). The second level belongs to the dog itself and any other person whom the dog thinks is equivalent to itself ( like other dogs ………and me, in this case ). In the third level the dog recognizes relatives and friends whom the dog thinks as mostly harmless. The next level belongs to people whom the dog has the authority to bite at sight.
At home, I always wanted to be in her proximity. It’s hard to explain the look in her eyes – full of mischief, ignorance but always full of curiosity. I loved that look. I poured my bagful of toys in front of her so that she could choose the toy she wanted to play with. As (to our horror) we found out later, all she wanted was to chew stuff to bits and pieces. And she did that – with all the things she could lay her teeth on – the curtains, footwear, bedsheets, plastic balls and what not. Her teeth were inexplicably sharp. But it’s all a part of growing up. We knew that. It would take volumes to explain all her growing years – dog biscuits, liver tonics, Ostocalcium vet, syringe shots and so on – all that a growing child could be provided for. She was one highly pampered kid in the family. Gradually but convincingly she became the center of distraction in our lives. Barking, running here and there, being able to wreck havoc if things didn’t go her way, she could do anything. She always wanted attention. She was not one of those dogs who would curl up in some corner or go beneath the bed and sleep there. She had all the place to herself and with the amount of love she was getting she thought that she was an incarnation of some deity. She always lay in the center of the room, and in the summers never drank non-refrigerated water. In the winters she ate omlettes, boiled eggs, cashew nuts, on a regular basis. I simply loved to see her eat. When I saw her eat, it felt as if I was the one getting filled. Her hunger became my hunger and her thirst became my thirst.
No words can explain the life we shared. People mostly fail to really understand their pets. The reason – they treat them as pets. I hate this word. Dimpy was never a pet. She was my first best friend and remains so. It’s only when you let them be a part of your life that you really get (the privilege) to unravel them. Just to give you an example how well we understood each other I’d let you know of a really simple game we used to play. I used to take a plastic ball (she knew what I was going to do and become excited but always remained calm) and place it on the floor. Unlike other dogs who would rush to grab the ball she simply used to stand on one side of the ball because she knew that what was to come was more fun. After placing the ball on the floor I used to step back a little. Standing on either side of the ball opposite to each other we had our eyes fixed on it and from time to time we used to look at each other too. Then one of us would initiate the game by moving one step forward towards the ball in a slow motion. The other would respond by doing the same. At all times the two pairs of eyes would remain fixed on the ball. When we reached close enough to the ball, I would move my hands and she would move her mouth towards the ball in a very slow motion. And then suddenly but intentionally one of us would attack the other and all hell would break loose. We would fight each other till we lay exhausted on the floor. The idea was not to grab the ball but to have fun by fighting each other. Rolling on the floor, sometimes one on top of the other, we played our hearts out. In the end I would caress her, she would lick my face and then I would pour water for her and drank some myself too. After that she would rest by my side while I did my school work. Life was simple Life was good.
I can write volumes about such games and incidents that are studded like gems and scattered throughout the fabric of my memory of the time we spent together. But they are not for public scrutiny. They are stuff that I would treasure for this lifetime. She remains forever alive in my heart, in my attitude, thoughts and in the way I still love her.
Things changed when I moved into college life. Another city meant that now was the time we separated. That’s when she started getting old. Away from each other, I longed to see her face. When I used to go home and during my project in the vacations she always used to stay and sleep beside my study table in my room. I too would remain in her close proximity – as if we were making up for the lost time. We were.
I would have to conclude it now. Day before when I was going to college I saw a lady standing at the roadside. She was caressing a stray dog. The dog was whining as if it had not been loved for ages. Constantly wagging it’s tale and moaning in appreciation, the dog made for an emotionally overwhelming sight. The lady, possibly waiting for some bus, felt no shame or insult in loving a stray dog. She had made his day. Something that they both won’t forget for a long time.
Some people use the word ‘dog’ as a derogatory comment. In India, especially, being an animal enthusiast is not considered a ‘very good thing’. Here society demands the person to look neat and tidy. Essentially, kids are encouraged to stay away from animals. Why, I ask ? Animal Planet’s slogan – Aakhir animals bhi toh human hain ( even animals are humans ) holds no meaning in this country. For those who think that they are superior to dogs I have something from Mark Twain – Heaven goes by favor, if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.

Take an animal home. Be it anything – dog, cat, parrot …anything. If you think that you cannot afford to have a dog(or any animal for that matter) I’d like you to know something – No matter how little money or how fewer possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich. Contrary to all beliefs, it’s not the bread that they are in urgent need of, it is the love that you have been holding back from them.

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