The Last Meeting

by Sailen Ghosh


She came, flatted her body before the entrance door of our house, looked up towards us and then silently went down without touching foods offered to her.

That was the last time we saw her and perhaps she came to say goodbye to us. This special one was none other than the street dog Bagha

We lived in a government colony which was full of street dogs. There were neighbours who used to feed them, others used to get annoyed because of their whole night barking and there was endless talk on issues pertaining to these unfortunate animals existence in the colony.

But they continued to live in the campus. Whenever a mother dogs have delivered , it was the young children who used to bring their share of milk for these new born, used to play with them and discussed how to protect them from rainy days. It was the young mothers during strolling in the evening will stop before the doggies and looking at the excitement of their children used to feel happy. Many a times a young childs uncontrollable restless was stopped by the sight of this doggies and how thrilled they used to be to offer their foods to these doggies can not be explained unless some one has witnessed it. It was a wonderful meeting of two classes of innocent kids who used to be a play partner without knowing each other language but through their expressions, they exchanged love and importantly conveyed the message that they would like to stay together. .

Doggies got fouled by kids but no barking either by mother dog or her children. It is a peaceful coexistence between two classes with everlasting memories that brings joy to each others and beginning of the art of living together without any expectation from each others.

It was a rainy day. On my way to the market, I found one set of parents talking to sweeper of our building to shift those doggies from the stair case to a far away place. The reason being cited was foul smell that is being emitted because of doggies and they wanted to remove doggies in the absence of their children to avoid protest.

However the plan failed because of the cry of children and their persistence with the parents to bring back the doggies. Doggies came, grew and became old enough to produce one set of doggies and this circle was continuing in the area.

There are many instances when this beautiful and faithful creature came to our help. My young son once fell down, had a deep cut on this knee and was unable to move.

His friends were all got panicky, not knowing what to do and at that crucial time, one of the dogs of the area came to our door, started barking and on opening the door, pulled my wifes sari and started going down the stair case. She knew the behaviour pattern of dogs, came down the stair case to found her son was in pain and needed attention. My son was rushed to hospital and doctors attended on him indicated had he been brought another half an hour late, they would have gone for amputation to save the child. The street dog saved my son.

There was another incident when it was a black out. There was no street light and my son was returning late form his tuition. He was scared and this elite class of animal surrounded him and escorted to our house and then looking at my wife barked to earn her appreciation.

My wifes love for dogs started from her childhood. She had a pet and I recall one incident when I touched her shoulder in front of her pet, she removed my hand from her shoulder. She insisted keep again and see the reaction. The dog again gently removed my hand from her shoulder. I again kept my hand on her shoulder and the process went on till she barked high to warn me. I got panicky and believe me; I never could keep my hands on my wifes shoulder in presence of her pet. That is the love and the blind love of dogs. Her master is her possession and do not play with that.

However with time, the attitude got changed and the same dog used to knell before me and took my command along with her. Even when I have shouted on her, she used to look at me with a pale look which was enough for me to control my anger. This is how a dog played an important role to my living. However, my wifes desire in keeping a dog at home was abandoned when her pet died and she felt such a vacuum that she took an oath not to have any pet at home to avoid mourning pain within her. But her liking for dogs remained and whenever she would see dogs, she would look at them with affection and they used to reciprocate it by moving their tails horizontally.

One of such doggies Bagha came to the attention of my wife when she became old, had problem with a big tumor near her breast area. She was discarded by her own folks and used to depend on foods to be thrown from balconies of houses in the area. This sick, unable to move much and hounded by others was her favourite.

She became a dear one to my wife. It was a practice of my wife to go to balcony quite often and then after a whistling, return back with pieces of loaf to offer to her.

They developed a time sense. It was the time sense that made both of them to come and feed used to be offered. There was sometimes hide and seek game between the two.

If a piece of loaf was thrown for this particular one, the other mighty one will come rushing, throwing her right of loaf piece and used to be gulped by them. My wife used to get furious and I was asked to work as a watch dog to look for the time when no other one will be around and then she will come and offer the food to this particular one.

Once it happened that this pet was sitting for long being watched by other dogs and then slowly she started walking off the area with a look at my wife. My wife tells me come inside and after a minute or so she went with the usual food for the dog and surprisingly no one except that particular pet was there.

It became a play between them. She got attached so much with this particular one that she stopped feeding others saying they grab her meal and thus she needs to be protected.

The dog was missing for some days. No one knew about his whereabouts. Then one fine morning on a holiday when I was standing at the balcony I noticed that sick one moving straight towards our side. I went immediately to fetch some loaf for him and made whistling sound to draw her attention.

She looked up but did not stop and started walking like a young one towards the stair case and reached our door. I offered loafs and closed the door.

After some time when I opened again I found the loaf is untouched, she is in sitting posture I called my wife and told Bahga is here and she has not touched loaf pieces.

My wife came running to look at her, touched her and offered the loaf. She looked up, water rolled down her eyes and then silently turned back and went straight out without looking backwards even for a moment.

That was the last meeting with Bagha. We never saw her again. She came not for the food but to say good bye before her final departure.

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