Friday, April 24, 2009

Naano, RIP

Last night, after finishing my previous post, I went to sleep at four. At seven in the morning, I got a call from Kanpur. I was fast asleep when the phone rang, but the moment I saw 'Home' blinking on the phone, I was wide awake. It was unusual for my parents to call so early. Could it be some bad news? It was.

"Naano has died," my mother was sobbing. Naano was an Indian breed dog who was adopted by my parents two years ago when he was just a few weeks old. He was the most handsome dog I'd ever seen: well-built, athletic with naughty, smiling eyes whose colour turned fluorescent green in pictures.

For two years he kept my aging parents on their toes, distracting them from the fact that both their sons are away. Naano was very demanding when it came to attention, and he hated to be left alone. If left alone in the lawn, he would dig apart the plants and if left alone inside, he would pull down the curtains. And when my parents got back home, he would give them a piece of his mind by letting out a different kind of a howl.

In the nights he would sleep with my parents on the same bed, his head placed comfortably on a pillow. He would, however, ditch them when my brother or I were visiting home. He would then sleep with us, and always be curious about what we were up to. If we went upstairs for a drink, he would follow us and hang around till we finished. If any of us got dressed, he would get excited. For he knew that if we are dressing up, we must be going out, and if we are going out, we must take him along too. He would jump around with glee the moment he would see me or my brother putting on a shirt.

In fact, the only expression he responded to most animatedly was, "Bairey jaabi?" -- "Want to go out?" His joy would know no bounds when we teased him with these two words, and that was the only time when he willingly allowed the leash to be tied around his neck. In fact, he could not wait for it to be tied. But the moment we stepped out of the gate, it would be impossible to keep pace with Naano. He would run as if he was tasting freedom for the first time, and it needed great muscle power and agility to keep him in control. Taking him out for a walk was like working out in the gym.

No wonder my father, when we were not around, preferred that Naano stayed home. At 65, he neither has strong muscles as us nor the agility. But that only increased Naano's determination to get out whenever he got a chance. So every now and then, when an unsuspecting visitor would open the gate, Naano would barge out through the gap and run away. My poor father would then take out his scooter out and look for him in every nook and corner of the neighourhood. The moment Naano would see my father approaching, he would run even faster. For him, a two-year-old dog, it was a game. He would be enjoying the freedom with the glee of a child who has been taken to a park. But that was dangerous: as a dog who had grown up in a home, he was not equipped with the traffic sense of a street dog. A street dog might be sleeping or playing on the road but it knows when exactly to move away if a vehicle is approaching. Naano, the innocent child, did not know all that. And that turned out to be his nemesis.

Of late, Naano had developed this habit of waking up at four in the morning and ask to be taken out. How did he ask? He would first beat his paws on the bed and bark, and if that did not cut any ice, he would start banging at the door. My father would wake up and let him out to the garden, but within minutes he would be banging at the door again, asking to be let in. Once in, he would again start banging at the door, asking to be let out. Basically he wanted to go out on the road. A couple of times, my father, out of sheer irritation, had let him out of the main gate. It is a different matter that he regretted his move each time, for he would be spending several anxious hours till Naano got back home. Most of the time, he would go out on his scooter to look for him and bring him back.

Last morning too, Naano woke up at four and wanted to be taken out. After putting up with his antics for two hours, my father finally opened the gate and let him go, out of sheer irritation. He has many more things worrying him, primary among them being my mother's fragile health. Anyway, Naano sprang out of the house in sheer joy. It was a pleasant summer morning, after all.

At 6.45, my parents found a lifeless Naano lying outside the gate. My father went and touched him, upon which he got up and came in but collapsed under the porch. He was bleeding from the mouth. My mother then ran her hand over him and called out his name, upon which he suddenly got up and walked up to the lawn and tried eating grass. But he could not eat and he came back and slid under the car, one of his favourite hiding places whenever he wanted to spring a surprise on us, and collapsed again. Within minutes he was dead. That's when the call came.

I was barely asleep for three hours when my mother called, and after that call, there was no question of going back to sleep. I was angry with my mother for having called me up so early just to deliver the news of the death of a dog. It's only a dog that has died, so why ruin my sleep? Couldn't she have waited for a couple for hours?

Actually, I was angry with her for having delivered the news in the first place. It was a piece of news that I didn't want to hear or believe. Since the call came at a time when I was fast asleep, I kept wondering for long if my mother's call was only a bad dream or whether she had actually called to tell me about his death. In fact, I still choose to believe that it was a bad dream and that Naano is still alive and sprinting around the garden.

But the fact is that Naano is now lies buried in the same garden. My parents gave him a decent funeral -- sprinkling him with Ganga water before burying him in a white shroud along with flowers and coins. He was a good dog.

Now, I don't know whether to shed a tear for Naano or for my father. Naano is dead and gone, but I alone know what my father must be going through. He is kindness personified when it comes to animals: way back in 1975, when he had come to Madras for a training programme, he had rescued a puppy stuck in a manhole in one of the streets in the city. Today, if I happen to love animals and if I am patient with street dogs, it's because of him. He always bonded with animals. While letting Naano out of the gate this morning, he obviously had no idea that the dog would sprint around so joyously on the road that it would be oblivious to the danger from an oncoming, speeding van. Naano was hit on the head by a school van. He died of brain haemorrhage. The saving grace was that he didn't die on the road, but chose to keep himself alive till he came home. His home.

That's Naano, bonding with my younger brother and my wife:


Beckett said...

I am no dog lover It is amazing how pets become a part of our lives like every other family member.Whoever said no one is indispensable got it woefully wrong

May his soul rest in peace.....

Unknown said...

its been 5 years since we lost our 'boy' who was christened Shaitan Singh rawat and totally lived up to his name ... and we still miss him .....

The Naked Mind And Soul said...

I lost Kaya (our boxer) 3yrs back and it still haunts me. I can very well imagine what your parents would be going through....

mithali said...

hope it does not affect your mom's health.
post reminded me of the movie "marley and me"

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of my sis who loves dog no matter street or pet.She goes out of the way to do any thing for them (if she has the time).She lives for them and every time even the slightest bark disturbs her and makes her run. Hats up to the entire faternity who loves pets particularly dogs even if street dogs.

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Oh gosh! I have had dogs at home probably from the day I was born, lost many of them over the years and cried my eyes out everytime. I so know how it feels.

Im sorry for the loss.

vandy said...

sad....he was only two yrs old.I know what ur parents must be going through.

Anonymous said...

From my broken heart to your dad's

To Flush
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Loving friend, the gift of one
Who her own true faith has run
Through thy lower nature,
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
Gentle fellow-creature!

Like a lady's ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
Either side demurely
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
Of thy body purely.

Darkly brown thy body is,
Till the sunshine striking this
Alchemise its dullness,
When the sleek curls manifold
Flash all over into gold
With a burnished fulness.

Underneath my stroking hand,
Startled eyes of hazel bland
Kindling, growing larger,
Up thou leapest with a spring,
Full of prank and curveting,
Leaping like a charger.

Leap! thy broad tail waves a light,
Leap! thy slender feet are bright,
Canopied in fringes;
Leap! those tasselled ears of thine
Flicker strangely, fair and fine
Down their golden inches

Yet, my pretty, sportive friend,
Little is't to such an end
That I praise thy rareness;
Other dogs may be thy peers
Haply in these drooping ears
And this glossy fairness.

But of thee it shall be said,
This dog watched beside a bed
Day and night unweary,
Watched within a curtained room
Where no sunbeam brake the gloom
Round the sick and dreary.

Roses, gathered for a vase,
In that chamber died apace,
Beam and breeze resigning;
This dog only, waited on,
Knowing that when light is gone
Love remains for shining.

Other dogs in thymy dew
Tracked the hares and followed through
Sunny moor or meadow;
This dog only, crept and crept
Next a languid cheek that slept,
Sharing in the shadow.

Other dogs of loyal cheer
Bounded at the whistle clear,
Up the woodside hieing;
This dog only, watched in reach
Of a faintly uttered speech
Or a louder sighing.

And if one or two quick tears
Dropped upon his glossy ears
Or a sigh came double,
Up he sprang in eager haste,
Fawning, fondling, breathing fast,
In a tender trouble.

And this dog was satisfied
If a pale thin hand would glide
Down his dewlaps sloping, --
Which he pushed his nose within,
After, -- platforming his chin
On the palm left open.

This dog, if a friendly voice
Call him now to blither choice
Than such chamber-keeping,
"Come out!" praying from the door, --
Presseth backward as before,
Up against me leaping.

Therefore to this dog will I,
Tenderly not scornfully,
Render praise and favor:
With my hand upon his head,
Is my benediction said
Therefore and for ever.

And because he loves me so,
Better than his kind will do
Often man or woman,
Give I back more love again
Than dogs often take of men,
Leaning from my Human.

Blessings on thee, dog of mine,
Pretty collars make thee fine,
Sugared milk make fat thee!
Pleasures wag on in thy tail,
Hands of gentle motion fail
Nevermore, to pat thee

Downy pillow take thy head,
Silken coverlid bestead,
Sunshine help thy sleeping!
No fly's buzzing wake thee up,
No man break thy purple cup
Set for drinking deep in.

Whiskered cats arointed flee,
Sturdy stoppers keep from thee
Cologne distillations;
Nuts lie in thy path for stones,
And thy feast-day macaroons
Turn to daily rations!

Mock I thee, in wishing weal? --
Tears are in my eyes to feel
Thou art made so straitly,
Blessing needs must straiten too, --
Little canst thou joy or do,
Thou who lovest greatly.

Yet be blessed to the height
Of all good and all delight
Pervious to thy nature;
Only loved beyond that line,
With a love that answers thine,
Loving fellow-creature!