'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.