By Dr. Kuhu Roy
I opened my arms and said, “I am taking you home, Adam. Come, let us go.” The dream broke and I woke up with a rapid pulse. Tears rolled down my cheeks and Chhutki rushed to console me, while the rest of the brood was fast asleep at five in the morning. “I am fine, Chhutki, thank you. Please go back to sleep.” She sniffed me and chose to stick by my side.
Don’t we have those ifs and buts and the regrets that keep surfacing every now and then? We all make mistakes. This is the story of Adam, who did not give up on hope, ever.
It all started on the 2nd of April, 2016 when Maa called me frantically about a pair of dogs, not even adults then, wearing red ribbons around their neck (a give-away of the Animal Birth Control agency that was doing everything under the sun to make the lives of the stray dogs miserable in Baroda, as the organisation was not following the animal birth control protocols at all), who had been wrongly dropped off post sterilisation at Christopher and Margaret’s spot. They were running aimlessly middle of the road, trying to seek refuge in an unknown territory, but were being chased away by local resident dogs. The barking that ensued, even people joined in to make the matters worse (accidental dog bites and accidents usually happen under such circumstances, that is why it is necessary to drop back the dogs post sterilisation only to the place they belong to). Maa was able to follow the pair of dogs only upto a certain point until they disappeared over the horizon. Maa returned home frustrated and helpless thinking about the plight of those dogs. A stockpile of complaints against the notorious agency was only meeting deafening silence, leading to more cruelty on the stray dogs and creating unnecessary man-animal conflict. This is what happens when the animal birth control programme goes un-monitored.
The following day, the two dogs were found seeking refuge in a college campus (a zone that was rabies free, no dog multiplication due to sterilisation for eleven years at a stretch) and Maa had managed to feed both of them despite the resident dogs trying their level best to shoo them away. I met the pair a day later. The male dog was over friendly, all grey and had a twinkle in his eyes. His sister, was all orange and had beautiful kohl eyes. Both were afraid of the new territory, new dogs and new humans around. Named Adam and Sanjana, respectively, they found peace in me and I found mine in both of them.
The siblings soon found acceptance with the resident dogs after licking their faces and receiving some bashing from them. Langdu, the new leader of the pack, after Guchguch had come home post cancer surgery, had a sudden boost in confidence with Adam and Sanjana as his subordinates. Then, the siblings became friends with the security guard at the gate and the two could be seen welcoming everyone, irrespective of whether their love was reciprocated or not. They were a bundle of joy. They would jump, announce to everyone with their barks that food had come for them and the tails kept wagging. They would eat from the same bowl although they were given separate bowls to eat from. Although Adam would bully Sanjana, yet he was protective about her. It was a joy seeing them grow in terms of confidence and spread love in the premises that could in no way reciprocate it. Infact, when I had left after giving my doctoral viva, the two of them were waiting for me with the same love and affection where qualifications don’t matter, but only the love does.
Just when happiness, confidence and a sense of belongingness became a part of their lives, on the auspicious day of Rakshabandhan, 18th of August, 2016, the watchman stopped me at the gate to inform about a dog in the parking lot unable to walk. Sitting at a distance, alone, writhing in pain was Adam. It was shocking to see a once joyous, lovely and affectionate soul, left with no control over his limbs, sitting at one place, unable to get up. He was ruthlessly hit on his hind legs that left him paralysed. His eyes had so much to say, as though trying to make me understand the horrid episode of cruelty he had been through.
He knew how to be happy, whatever be the circumstance, by dragging himself although he wanted to stand up and run. Adam left on the 24th of January, 2017. I was not even around him. I carry the guilt of neglecting him that ultimately cost him his life. Perhaps, the house being full with twelve dogs, hands being tied owing to no caretaker or even a maid, professional work, plus the dogs on the roads, I wanted to bring him home, but I could not. I failed miserably and that is what my dream of bringing him home stems from, because it is the greatest desire. He was buried with full honour, in my mother’s dupatta and wearing the collar I had brought for him that Adam was supposed to wear upon his home coming, which never really happened. If some magic could be cast, I would want him back to let him know that I love him madly and the home is incomplete without him.
In a world where so many have made a business out of animals, stray pups in particular, did my Adam stand a chance of homing with anyone else? Definitely not. No one wants a paralysed dog.
It is five years today, the wound is still as raw and painful because I failed to give him the love and care he was worthy of, which I could have by bringing him home, regardless of how overstretched we were.
Dr. Kuhu Roy