Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bijjoo - Pluto Deshpande


Winters in Baroda are a odd mix of chilly nights and hot days. It was on one such cool morning that I tried to find warmth in my sweater and a hot cup of ginger tea, that my Mom made for me. Lazily, I went to the veranda and took the morning newspaper lying near the gate. As I began reading, I looked over the fencing to see the commotion or rather a meeting of all the birds. Something was brewing as every bird had to say something to the other. A closer look found me staring at something brown furry thing. It was all curled around itself to escape the morning chill.

Curiosity made me go near it and to my surprise, I found a perfectly healthy golden brown coloured pup. I lifted it without fearing it or its mother, for there were no pups near our house to fear the wrath of their mother. The warmth of my hand and the sweater made the pup immediately take a liking to me and it made a soft noise as if to thank me for holding it. I took it inside the house and held it close to my mother. The pup nudged my mother with its wet nose and saw a startled look upon another member. My mother loves animals, so I had no problem of convincing her to let me keep it. Now the next step was my father; and the biggest shock was that he had no objection at all. By this time my sister also came out and was mighty pleased to see such a sweet little pup.

The first day saw the pup in an investigating mood, roaming the garden, the house and getting to know his new 'family'. We were no less at studying our little pup. It had a lot of weight and it would walk with an effort. Its ears were big and they would flap over his head. Its big black eyes were very friendly and would make anybody pick it up. Its paws were very big and it had perfect five claws on its perfect 4 legs. The only thing lacking was a name. My sister came up with the name Pluto because of its similarities with the original Walt Disney character. So Pluto it was !
Somehow, I could only say Bijju instead of Pluto. My mother would lovingly call it Ladoo. Whenever my mother would pamper Ladoo, he would be all on seventh heaven, he would smile and be all attention to whatever my mother said. During such times, me and my sister were treated as unimportant. Our pampering had no effect, since it was routine and was something that Bijju completely ignored. I would call him 'Joot Baye', an Indianised version to say 'Good Boy' and also because Bijju slept on a jute bag !

Another change that one can notice is that the 'it' changed to 'he'. Pluto was our family, and he also made us his family. Whenever we had family get-togethers, he would sit among us and listen with full attention. At times, I feel that he would comprehend all that was being said. Pluto understood Marathi ! He understood our joy, anger, sorrow and most important of all; he understood us. I also saw him ignore us when he wanted to laze and sleep. His personality and preference would always show.

My mother would make it a point to keep him chained in the garden for 30 minutes at least but you should see the ruckus he made. He would dig up so much earth near him that we had a free digger; the one who dug at all the wrong places ! When we sisters returned home in the evening he would want to be immediately set free and would also show us the dug up pit. I think he wanted to be treated like us.

During Navratri, a festival celebrated with lot of enthusiasm; who would want to miss out on the good traditional music and dance and being together with your own group; well, so during such late night events, Pluto would be awake, waiting at the door for us to come back. Normally, he would be fast asleep in the house not bothering to be the watch dog that we would have preferred. But during such occasions, he would be worried like any caring and worrying parent and his incessant barking would ensure that we returned well on time.

One incident stands out to prove how well Pluto considered himself a Deshpande. My sister had invited two friends over for some project discussion in the afternoon. She was having some late lunch downstairs when her friends arrived. My mother showed them in. All this while, Pluto was eyeing them squarely and so my mother asked them to make themselves comfortable in the upstairs room. The two friends casually asked Pluto to join them, and surprise of all ! Pluto was ecstatic at being asked for company and happily he went ahead of them to show them the way. He needed no introduction or assurance of their identity. We were all dumbfounded. Our little Bijju considered himself more of a human than a dog.

We had a very happy nice time with Bijju and his lovely antics. To this day, we still cherish our fond memories of him. I am sure he found his own place in the sky, the twinkling bright star still smiles down below at us. The star who considers itself not a celestial object but an angel to cheer us up when we need it the most!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Abnuma

'Living in an independent house has its set of joys and sorrows.' So went the normal opinion about others who preferred other housing schemes. But my parents had a different view to it. My mother loved to have a garden, and that too a well maintained at that; my father saw to its cleanliness besides watering the plants. My sister and I would be of help only occasionally. But together, it made the effort worth it when the whole family enjoyed the company of nature; which included not just plants and trees but also animals, birds and bees.

Its true, we had quite a few wanted as well as unwanted visitors. Dogs would come to the house to enjoy the cool shade of trees in summer, dig earth in winters to enjoy the warmth and lay pups in the rainy season. Cats were too proud to do anything in the garden; they preferred to be indoors commanding our full attention. Squirrels too found the surrounding conducive for jumping from tree to tree and eating tender buds and ripe fruits. The birds would visit the small container of water to either drink water from it or have an elegant bath in it by spreading their wings and flapping it till some of their friends kept a watch for danger. And not to forget the bees, they had also found a niche for building their own understanding of a home ie the honeycomb.

This all suffices for the ideal description of our family and how we all stayed in perfect harmony. But one day, we had 7 additional sweet little guests. The dog had given birth to 7 pups; all precious and tender. We were overjoyed and ecstatic ! Our parents warned us not to be too involved for they were stray and would live by the laws of nature.

However, my attention was caught by an ugly looking though very healthy male pup. It was quite boisterous and active. Had it been good looking, it would have made a good home for itself. But God had other things in store for him. Most of these pups perish before they complete 8 months and nature was no good to this set too. The ugly looking pup had become more ugly due to malnutrition and all his brothers and sisters had died too. To add more to misery, one evening, it came with a profusely bleeding jaw; one could see that it was very hurt and would not survive the night.

The next morning, we expected a dead pup, but there it was; still lying on the ground with a bleeding jaw that clearly exposed the broken and missing teeth. Its sight made us wonder of who could be the perpetrator of such an inhuman act. The wound showed that it was hit with something big solid object. All that we could do was pray to God to have mercy and end its suffering.

The second dawn, with its bright reddish orange glow, brought us back in this world from our deep sleep. A walk in the garden, brought us to the place where the pup had slept last night, but hey ! the pup was missing. Where could it be ? 'Must have wandered to some other place to die' was all that we could think. But surprise of all surprise, there it was weak and tired sitting near the banana plants. We gave it milk to drink and although with difficulty, it drank most of the milk. The bleeding had stopped too. All that remained was a swollen jaw and a broken soul.

Slowly the pup regained its strength and against all odds, proved to be a winner in the race for living. The ugly pup had now metamorphosed into a healthy ugly dog. The dog, though looked abnormal with its half jaw missing, its one ear standing upright and another ear in horizontal position, the body and tail covered in long fur (unusual for an Indian breed) and the colour of the fur, a combination of white, brown and black. We lovingly called it 'Abnormal' which later turned to Abnuma.

My mother fed it daily and it started showing confidence in our family members, it allowed us to go near it, touch it. In turn it loved us dearly, for we were the only people who took kindly to it. It would guard our house with all its courage. I wonder if I should call it courage; for its broken soul had yet not healed. Abnuma was too much afraid of people all because of its jaw breaking incident. At times, it would not even bark, only look suspiciously at strangers. Strangers in turn looked at Abnuma with hesitation. The situation would become so funny that Abnuma was afraid of people and people were afraid of Abnuma for he did not bark and for the fact that 'Dogs that dont bark, BITE'.

Slowly, Abnuma started to go further than our house, he (the 'it' changed to 'he' with time) went a few houses down the street, then further more to the end of the street and then the whole society. This way, he gradually expanded his jurisdiction and made himself the boss of small dogs. True, he had little competition from other weak dogs, which helped him to survive. Whenever we called out his name, he would come running like a leopard, his hind legs crossing the front legs, his long hair all flowing in the air and bringing along with it, his long bushy tail. We watched with pride 'Our Abnuma', how magnificent he looked.

These are the most fond memories of our beloved 'Abnuma'. He lived a very normal life for many years to come and the best of all was that he showed us how a broken jaw or spirit can be fixed and life be made still more beautiful.

Abnuma contracted a skin disease when being treated for his ears, and gradually became weaker and weaker and finally had to be put to sleep to free him from his misery.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Theory Of Relativity


Great, indeed is Albert Einstein to have formulated such mind boggling theories in Physics at a very nascent scientific age.

   "Man's imagination in the beyond, his faith within and his ability to prove things is truly surprising and inspiring"

His gray hair and casual style are as confounding as are his scientific theories intriguing. One wonders of his day to day simplicity in living and his complexities in thinking. As a reader, I also savored most of the stories on him and his unpredictability. No wonder that most of his kindergarten teachers found the little boy not like other kids. Oddity can be a specialty or a disability; who can predict the potential within.

So many thoughts on the Greatness of a human being, came to my mind, but hey ! I need to keep my blog on track too. What interests me is the title ie Theory of Relativity. This title is also so much relative just like the theory itself. The theory speaks of the movement of objects in trying to explain the concept. Even my thoughts about this is in line with the actual theory but instead of the objects the focus for me is a person in two different situations.

I still remember the city I grew up in, the city with its familiar people; the daily vegetable vendors, the shopkeepers, the sweepers, our maid and not to forget my set of friends who made me define myself and my place in this world. I always cherish memories of having a 'cutting' chai and the spicy Indianised Chinese food along with my friends constantly discussing either the problems as faced by a teenager or the aspirations of the young generation. I also cannot forget the good parts of bad roads or the bad parts of good roads ! How traveling was enjoyed due to the good spirit and a longing for the 'yet to have'.

All this suddenly changed when after a decade, I stood all motionless in an 'unknown' part of the city that I so proudly call my home. The location was all same, but I was out of place. No familiar faces, no recognizable buildings, no friend to share the chai, no road having that familiar pothole; in short, nothing that I could relate to. The city had moved leaving me back in time. Only a select few people were there to actually make me understand the reference.

Standing there, watching the world go by made me realize that the people had indeed moved quite far ahead, I still remained a decade back. I surely was among the fast and moving person in the new city that I currently stay, but going back made me feel completely out of place. I was still living in a world that was 10 years old and people around me had reached a new destination in time.

This made me wonder whether Einstein's theory was any different. And frankly speaking just like the two objects, its people who either stay behind or move forward. Theory of Relativity is indeed a relative subject; at times talking of objects as subjects and some times talking of subjects as objects.