By Manisha Matta

It’s been a year since the loveliest, warmest and most cuddlesome member of our family, Chotu, passed away. Grieving for dead people is easier and understandable. People can perceive your mood swings, allow you space and a few tantrums, understand your good and bad days, and the tears.

But not enough is acknowledged about the pains and grief that wash over you when you lose a beloved pet; a pet with whom you have probably spent a decade (or if you are lucky, even more) of your life and who has been a child, a friend, a confidante, a play mate and your loudest cheer leader. 

“It’s just a dog, you’ll get over it!” or so, think many people. No, you never get over a dog. Ever. 

Once the dog passes on, all you are left with is a deep, dull, ever lasting ache in your heart and a desire to snatch that one last hug with your warm ball of fur. Every nook and corner of the house, reminds you of his presence, warmth and playful ways. 

Dogs (I call them fur angels) are simple minded, creatures of habit. And if you follow their lead, you will also learn to live healthy, sleep deeply, eat heartily and love selflessly. 

Time heals, maybe, but nothing really fills the vacuum in your life, that the demise of a fur angel leaves you with. You don’t overcome the loss. You only learn to live with it. 

This is not to say that we only mourn and weep when we think of CHOTU. Not at all. On the contrary, we smile often and even laugh at the millions of memories he left us with and the sunshine he brought to our lives, we cherish the memories of him. We still celebrate his birthday and will continue to commemorate his memories. 

We almost didn’t adopt Chotu. He was one among a litter of 7 street pups who were born in a dry gutter of Mumbai streets whom we used to feed and were daily bringing them our home along with their mother. Chotu was the most mischievous among all. All siblings were priceless but he was unique, his funny and lovely antics made us laugh so hard.

But unfortunately when heavy rains in Mumbai, Jaundice took away Chotu’s siblings, we tried hard to save each one but no luck. Even Chotu suffered too from that fatal disease, vet warned us he also may go in 2-3 days so be prepared and don’t cry! It was a shock to me. Me and my family prayed to God for HIS mercy on Chotu and miracle happened, he survived! Not only survived but lived a happy, healthy and blessed life. And we couldn’t bear to keep him on the streets and took him in forever. Have to say it was the best Karmic decision by our entire family

Our 14+ years with our beloved Chotu were probably the best years of our lives. He made us realise what it meant to love unconditionally and selflessly. How we interact with our surroundings, and our larger view of the environment and animal kingdom have been shaped by Chotu.

I remember every moment, everything of him that how he was our best companion during last year’s lockdown when nobody was allowed to visit our house neither we were allowed to go anywhere out. In such crucial time our Chotu was the one who gave us the best company and became the best companion of us. Woh kahte hain na, dukh sukh ka sacha sathi! He proved that. He showed empathy, didn’t left us alone, kept us busy with his funny and lovely doings otherwise we may have gone in depression but his presence didn’t let it happen. He was a happy child, a good soul who never give trouble to anyone. As his vet called him Gangaram, so was he.

I would love to share his story of puja. Every month we do Purnima puja at our home. Now every Purnima day we remember him and miss him more because he was the part of our puja, he used to sit along with us during puja, he was very calm throughout the puja activity as if he was understanding everything.

Once puja was over first of all I used to put sindoor teeka on his forehead, and suddenly he would get up and start his mischievous antics, he would come and lick my cheeks, why? Because he was fond of coconut so wanted early prashadam. That was his secret behind sitting calm and listening puja! Wasn’t he smart?

My Chotu was very neat. He loved hygiene and cleanliness. While having his meals if by mistake something will dropped by him he would cry and call me to clean it first then he will eat. His vet said because he is well cared that’s the reason he lived long healthy life.

One more incident i want to share. Chotu proved that dogs sense danger, yes really they do. We understood when that incident happened to me. He sensed the danger and suddenly started crying, started scratching me and in fear started licking me fast. We all were surprised that why is he doing so, but when at same mid night I fell severely ill and we rushed to hospital where I was admitted in ICU, which was life threatening, we all understood why Chotu was doing that!

After 15 days when I got discharged from the hospital, came home, my Chotu didn’t leave me alone for a single minute and that continued forever. He was my best therapist, so affectionate, so much love he gave me. He left positive effects on my life both mental and physical. He proved that these fur balls are the best therapists.

I must say that we didn’t rescued or adopted our Chotu but he rescued and adopted our lives with his selfless and unconditional love. He was a happy child, a good soul, a saint who never gave anyone trouble. He was an angel without wings!

Me and my family are now more aware of and in tune with the natural kingdom, and try our best to live in harmony with other living beings. Living with Chotu was a gift everyday, and made us much better human beings than we could ever possibly be. 

Here’s hoping that our Chotu has got moksha or a better birth, hopefully a human form, a good human being and is taking his baby steps already. He lives inside our hearts, in our mind and thoughts. He will always be remembered.

There are millions of stories of my Chotu, if i will sit and write it will become a novel, a novel which always would be continued…

I wish people understand and value this creation of God. They are precious gifts, sunshine in our lives. Humans must respect animals, understand their boundless love and treat them with dignity.

Thank you.

Chotu’s mom,

Manisha Matta

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