Sometimes, You Just Need A Paw To Hold

I was sitting outside with my phone clutched in one hand and wiping my tears with the other when Snoopy came and just sat beside me. I felt so grateful that day to have that warm fur ball as my brother. 

I was an only child (or adult…maybe?) till I was 18. We adopted Snoopy (my dog) when I finished high school. It was a major change in our lives which called for a lot of adjustments. I had to get used to hiding my shoes so that he wouldn’t tear them up or picking even the smallest litter from the floor because he was a curious puppy and would eat absolutely anything. The biggest change, however, was saying goodbye to private space because everywhere I went he followed. It made me so happy that I finally had a dog. You see, growing up alone isn’t easy, especially for a person who loves company. FINALLY, I had someone at home to play with or just be with.

I believe that adopting Snoopy is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because not only is he the cutest dog ever but he’s become the backbone of my family. He has the biggest heart and is always ready to cuddle. A lot of people believe that dogs cause health problems and are unhygienic. Some of our relatives stopped visiting us because of Snoopy. I think all families with dogs will agree that there are always some people who have problems with our dogs. Maybe if they just took out the time and opened their mind a little, they would understand why the dog is a member of our family and not just a pet.

Recently, I went through a rather difficult time and was not feeling very good. I was sitting outside on the floor of the balcony and talking on the phone with a friend when I started crying because of all the pent up feelings and I saw Snoopy come and just sit beside me. He put his head on my lap and just lay there while I pet him and didn’t get up until I stopped crying. That is when I actually realized that dogs are so sensitive towards our emotions. He sensed that I was upset and came and comforted me till I was okay. It filled me with such a warm feeling and the fact that he loved me so much brought tears to my eyes again. Sometimes, you just need a paw to hold.

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You told her

She was just an ordinary girl and you told her she was the best thing that ever happened to you. You told her you’d never hurt her but you touched her where she wasn’t sure if she wanted your touch. Your mind was full of yourself and you filled her mind with it too. She forgot she was her own person first and thought she only belonged to you. She was made to believe that in relationships it’s not okay to talk about the intimacy you have with your partner to your friends. She was gullible, saying no was out of the question, or you’d feel disappointed. You took advantage of this fact and hurt her. Physically. She was repulsed by you. She never said it to your face, she thought you would only get more disappointed. You might ask, why didn’t she just speak to you about it? Maybe because you were an expert manipulator. She knew you would victimise yourself so she started distancing herself from you. When she finally ended it with you, you asked why. She gave no solid answer except she didn’t love you anymore. You pried. She didn’t budge. She was strong in that moment. She asked you to stay away. Thankfully, you did. Months passed, she missed your attention however sick it was, she thought she owed you something. She tried to fix it, however much it disgusted her, she still wanted to make you happy. It was a habit, you see? But thankfully she had angels watching over her and they didn’t let that happen. She’s so grateful to them. She didn’t understand at first, she does now. What you did to her wasn’t love. It was abuse. 

I hope you understand it too.

All I want for Christmas

It was the first cold winter evening and the man who operated the tea-stall was just about to pack up and leave. There was a very cool breeze and he shivered slightly, tucking his shawl around him. As he was winding up and closing all the jars full of sweets and biscuits he could feel someone behind him so he turned around. Two pairs of brown eyes were looking up at him, waiting patiently for their daily treats. He opened the biscuit jar and took out eight of them and heard two excited barks. Smiling, he tossed one to the brown one and one to the black one and fed them till the biscuits got over. He knew this wouldn’t fill their tummy but it was all he could afford to give them and felt guilty when they sat in front of his stall and looked at him with such adoration. He thought about how he would go back to his small but warm bed and they would have to sleep out in the cold but what could he do? He was poor and he had his own children to think about, he had three kids who were all in their teens. Looking at the dogs sitting in front of him and watching him with love, he thought about the last time his kids had looked at him like that. He couldn’t…

There were newspapers kept in his locked cupboard and he thought that they would keep them at least a little warm. So, he unlocked his cupboard, took them out and spread a thick although a narrow patch of newspaper on the pavement beside his stall’s tarp. The dogs were looking at him with confusion, they couldn’t understand what he was doing. He called them and pointed to the newspapers and they just barked excitedly, they thought he was playing a game. He sighed and tried to coax them into sitting on it again but they just kept wagging their tails and barking excitedly. He finally got an idea! Taking out two biscuits from the jar, he placed them on the newspapers and the dogs got even more excited and ran to eat them. After finishing the biscuits they sat down near the front of the stall again and the man sighed to himself. He tried at least.

It was getting darker and he needed to get home before sundown so he unlocked his bicycle and bidding goodbye to the dogs, he set off. The dogs watched him leave, wagging their tails at top speed till they couldn’t see him anymore. The man hoped for the best as he was pedaled home because it was getting colder by the minute. On reaching home, his wife offered him a hot cup of tea and some dinner. His children were nowhere to be seen and when he asked about their whereabouts, his wife just shrugged and told him that they must have gone to their friends’ houses. He lay down, tensed, about his children and the dogs but sleep followed quickly because the day had been exhausting. When he awoke, it was 4 in the morning. He looked around the small room and saw all three of his children on the bed under covers and his wife beside him, still asleep. Rising quietly, he smiled and said a short prayer for the well-being of his family. He quickly changed and left for work on his bicycle.

When he reached his tea-stall, the sight that awaited him made his insides go warm. The dogs were asleep on the newspaper, cuddled together to keep warm. He started his daily opening ritual which woke them up and their tails thumping the ground while they yawned brought a smile to his face. They stood up and he fed them two biscuits each after which they ran off excitedly. Every evening thereafter, the man set up newspapers for them beside his stall and they would sleep peacefully. One day, he asked his wife for some old sweaters of his children which he brought for the dogs to sleep on. The dogs kept watch on his stall for him every night and he fed them biscuits and played with them every day.

All I want for christmas is for people to show a little kindness to street dogs. This might be a fictional account but I know of so many such wonderful people who don’t have much but share whatever little they have happily. There has been a rise in crimes against street dogs in the past few months and it breaks my heart to watch videos of them getting thrown off roofs or beaten up for no reason. If people argue that dogs are aggressive and untrustworthy, I have only one thing to say to them – All dogs are loving creatures, if they don’t like you then you need to think about what you’re doing wrong because they don’t get angry for no reason. I think all the dog lovers and even most of the people who aren’t comfortabe with animals around would agree.

Let’s give this small present to all street dogs, just a little kindness.

Thank you!

Dear Mumma & Papa,

I am forever grateful to you for bringing me to this world even though I keep teasing you whenever you scold me for silly things with my pet dialogue, “Toh fir paida kyu kiya mujhe?” (Why did you give birth to me?) You have taught me everything I know and keep me on my toes with your never ending questions, just like I keep you on yours. I am 21 now which means I’m almost an adult, although I know that for you I will always be your little princess.

There is something I want from you, can you give it to me? Please? *insert puppy face*

You have provided for me throughout my life and I know you will do it in the future too without even a hint of hesitation. Whenever I asked you for something, you made it happen. Today, I am not asking you for something materialistic but just a promise. (I can already hear your *phew*) I need you to promise that you will take care of yourselves because I cannot imagine my life without you. You’re the main cogs of my life and if you break, I break too. I see so many people around me who are not as lucky as I am to have both their parents together, safe and healthy. I need you to remain like this.

It already breaks my heart to watch you grow older day by day and it must be the same for you as well. It’s not easy watching me grow more reluctant and stubborn every day. Hehe. On a serious note though, I know you want me to stay little forever just like I want you to stay young forever. I mean not ‘young’ young but in your 40s. 40 is the new young anyway and if you stay 49 it means that I get to stay 20. Too late, I guess. We’re all growing older, I just haven’t developed the wrinkles yet. This is supposed to be a cute letter so I’m not going to make old jokes now.

I love you. Please promise to keep your promise.

Somebody

I am at that confusing stage of my life when I need to make decisions about my career and what I want to do after college. It’s not confusing for everybody, some people have their life clearly mapped out and know exactly what they want to do. This is something that I really admire about humans, some of us are just wandering around from one place to the other without any direction whatsoever and some have their tracks carefully laid out.

As a kid, I always wanted to grow up to become a somebody. A somebody in my dictionary meant someone very important known and loved by everybody. I didn’t know exactly what they did but just that everybody loved them. As the years passed, I kept changing my dream but the notion of becoming a ‘somebody’ didn’t really change. A dancer, astronaut, singer, actor, novelist, filmmaker, cartoonist, teacher…

My definition of somebody has grown up with me during these years. Now, I want to be somebody who is important and respects the fact without taking advantage of it, somebody who has good and loyal friends, somebody who respects that work is important but not more than family, somebody who is socially responsible and somebody who has love, not just for another person but also for themselves. This doesn’t really give me a clear picture of what I want to do in life but it does provide me with the basic rules. Whatever I choose to do, I need to be my definition of somebody.

I think all of us want to be somebody. We all just have different definitions for it. What’s yours?

Behind the curtain…

I am 20 years old, about to turn 21 in a few months. My life till now has been Preschool, School and College, of which I am currently in the last year. I have always thought about my student life in terms of my parents, my teachers and my friends. This is all that came to my mind when I started thinking about progressing to the next stage of my life i.e. getting a JOB. Placements are going on in college right now and I have been preparing for them since the last two months.

On the day before my first interview I was preparing a checklist of all the things required and I realised that I needed a display folder for my CV and rushed to Pyramid Stationery with Mumma. Everybody, who has ever lived in Vasant Kunj, has been to Pyramid because it’s the oldest stationery shop here. So I walked in at 7 in the evening and said hello to Uncle and told him what I needed, he just smiled and asked Chotu (his helper) to get the folder. While he was looking for the folder, I was perusing the various colourful shelves around me and that’s when my gaze fell on the counter. I noticed that Mumma was talking to Uncle and they were both looking at me and smiling gently so I asked them why and the reply threw me off completely.

Uncle said, “Beta, I remember when you first came to my shop to buy things for your 1st Grade and I’m so grateful to God that you have grown up so beautifully. It still amazes me to see all my kids graduating from school, moving to college and then getting jobs. It just makes me very happy and sad at the same time…”

This got me thinking of all the people who have helped me immensely during various stages of my student life and have always been there no matter what. These people are usually the ones we fail to appreciate and forget their value as soon as we move on into the real world. The Uncle at the stationery shop, the Tailor Uncle who stitched our very first uniforms, the Dhobi Uncle who visited every Sunday and Wednesday so that we always had a fresh and crisp uniform to wear, the Maid Aunty who kept our rooms clean for us, the Guard Uncle who wished us ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Welcome Back’ everyday. Have we really thought about them and been grateful for their existence in our lives?

I was sitting and doing an assignment for college on my laptop one day and Hazra Aunty, the maid at my house, was doing her daily chores. She was dusting the house and when she came to the spot where I was sitting, she gently asked me to lift the laptop and I got really annoyed because I was trying to concentrate but did it anyway. She proceeded with her work and I noticed that she was trying to be very quiet for my sake. This made me smile and I got up and asked her if she wanted a glass of water as I was going to get some for myself as well, she said she’d love some but she’ll get it for me and herself so I can continue working and then went to the kitchen without a moment of hesitation to get it.

A lot of people don’t have the privileges that we have and that should make us even more grateful for all that we have but we’re mostly ignorant. I really respect people who take out time from their busy lives everyday just to give back to these people for all that they provide for us. The people who tutor their maid’s kids, the people who make tea and meals for their guards or take them to the doctor whenever they feel even a little ill, the people who help out the daughters and sons of their dhobi with their college applications, and so many other wonderful ways in which they help out those who help us. I wish that one day I’m one of these amazing human beings, able to give back whatever I have got.

In this fast paced world, we sometimes need to slow down and appreciate the people around us however small their role.

Thank you for reading!  

Magic? I Agree.

Me – “Please Mumma! Please! I really want a dog!”

Mom – “I’m already taking care of one, I don’t want another.”

Me – “I promise I will take care of it… You won’t have to do a thing!”

Mom – “No.”

This was a frequent argument/dead-end discussion in my house till 29th May, 2014, the day my Class XIIth Board Result came out. I still remember how high I jumped when I saw that 92% on the screen and my parents hugging me and calling my grandparents to tell them the news. When everybody calmed down, I casually reminded my parents how they had promised to let me get a dog if I scored well in my exams. I could see that Mumma was happy but I could see the doubt in her eyes about her promise. It was because she hated dogs. Hate is a very small word though; a better word would be DESPISED. When she was a kid, a stray dog once tried to bite her in a dark alley near her house while she was walking back home from school. The fear of dogs was deeply rooted in her mind, body and soul. My dad, on the other hand, was and is an avid dog lover.

I was volunteering at PAWS, a dog-shelter in Vasant Kunj, at that time and had decided that if I ever got the chance I would adopt a dog. The day after the result came out, my dad and I drove over to PAWS and started looking around for a puppy that we could adopt. During my time volunteering at PAWS, there was a small enclosure where there were two puppies with their mother that I was told to be careful around, as they were critical. That day, however, the caretaker approached me because he heard we were there to adopt and told us that one of the puppies in that kennel is going to die very soon because of an illness and that we should adopt the other one. I walked to the kennel and stood there watching the family of three cosily sleeping together in a huddle and put my hand near the nose of the black and white puppy. It smelt my hand and put its head on it but then he woke up and got scared and shrank back to his mom. The other one which was sick was completely black and was trying to get up now to drink water. The mom sensed it and nudged him forward to help him reach the water bowl. She looked at me and I could see so much sadness in her eyes, she blinked at me as if in agreement. It was as if she was telling me to save her babies and if that isn’t possible then please save my other son, at least.

I picked up the black and white puppy and he looked so scared and sad that I decided that I was going to make him happy. My dad agreed with my choice. We brought him home and tried to make him comfortable. In the car, he peed in my lap because he was terrified of the noises around us and I had to hug him so tight to give him a sense of security. I wanted to tell him everything would be okay but talking to him only confused him so I just hugged him. Mumma had to be at a conference that day so she got home late but when she saw his skinny little body she was disgusted. He was yellow rather than white and his legs were like matchsticks. She scolded me that I shouldn’t have gotten such a fragile and helpless puppy home because he might not survive looking at his condition. I didn’t want to think about that because I was already in love with him. A very close friend of mine suggested that I should name him Snoopy because he looks a little like him and I loved the idea. My little brother was now “Snoopy”.

Snoopy took almost a week to get used to me. I restricted interaction of other people with him because of his fragile state. Mumma hated looking at him at first but she slowly started accepting that he was going to be there so she didn’t say much. Rescued dogs need to be handled very carefully or it could affect their mental or emotional health. On the first day, I set up a small bed for Snoopy in my room and just let him lay there. He got up and crawled under the bed and slept in a corner so I carefully and gently put him back on his bed after an hour. I had to do this several times a day because he was used to sleeping on a hard floor and every time I put him back he would realise after a while that something was off and go back under the bed. It took me three days to get him used to it and a week for him to get used to me petting him while sleeping. He would flinch and get scared every time I would put a hand on him and just try to get away. It took a lot of time and effort for him to actually open up to me. He started playing with me and sleeping near my leg after two weeks.

While I was getting Snoopy used to me, I didn’t notice how Mumma had completely stopped getting scared or disgusted by him. I used to make Cerelac for him every day because he wasn’t allowed to eat anything else and I never asked my mom for help because I didn’t want to annoy her. One day, however, I woke up a little later than usual and freaked out because Snoopy’s breakfast time had passed so I jumped out of bed and rushed to the kitchen and in the living room I saw both of them. Mumma was sitting on the sofa drinking her tea while Snoopy was slurping at his food bowl peacefully and I was left standing there, surprised at what I was looking. I asked Mumma why she gave him food and she casually replied, “He was hungry and you were sleeping.” I went to the washroom and cried my eyes out because I was so happy! The woman who hated dogs and thought they were the biggest mistake on Earth was now very casually feeding Snoopy because he was hungry. That day I actually realised how much my mom had changed over the past few weeks.

I started to notice some little things then; how Snoopy would follow Mumma around like a lover-boy, how Mumma would sit on the sofa while Snoopy was lying near her feet in such a relaxed manner and how she would get worried if she couldn’t spot him. Soon, he refused to eat from the bowl unless Mumma would touch it. He would sit or lie down at the door of kitchen when she was making food and I was busy studying. I didn’t say anything and just noticed all of this quietly. She would keep reading articles on dogs and their care, asked all her friends who owned dogs about them, kept tabs on Snoopy’s Vet appointments and fed him his daily vitamins. Once, we had to go to my Badimamma’s (Grandmother) place to stay the night and when it came to who would take care of Snoopy, she immediately said, “Kyu? Mera beta bhi saath jayega! Usko kyu chorr ke jaun main?” (Why? My son will go with me. Why should I leave him with somebody else?) It was the first time she called him her son.

It’s been two years since we brought Snoopy home. He is now a complete spoilt brat who loves Mumma more than anybody and she loves him the same way. I believe that dogs have magical powers and they can make anybody love them without making much effort. Don’t you agree?

I have a lot of Snoopy stories and would love to share them if you’d be interested in reading them! Let me know!