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!

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