A Tale of Two Animals

By Mr Atul Tandon (L&T Howden)

As a kid, I had gone through Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I was just wondering if someone would come out with a short story with a title “A Tale of Two Animals”. Unfortunately, none came forward. Well, so here I am picking up the mantle of writing this short story. It has no semblance or link to Charles’ great works and may be nowhere be close to it.

The story does not go back to as far as “once upon a time”. The genesis of his story lies in one of the evenings of October.

I have been closely associated with office bearers of Resident Welfare Association as well as Lane associations in my colony. The bud was sown on the fateful day when I shot off a WhatsApp message to the residents of our Durga Mandir Lane.

The ad verbatim message read as below

Hi all… one issue that comes to my mind is the menace created by stray dogs and monkeys… if someone has suggestions on how to tackle the issue, please feel free to share on the group

Well, as expected none came up with suggestions or ideas. Sequence of events followed soon thereafter.

A few days later, my son was returning home, after a tiring session of professional coaching class. He was sitting and chatting on a bench near the Mother Dairy milk booth with his friend. From nowhere, a few stray dogs came charging towards them, barking furiously. A description of this, by my son, reminded me of the Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Tennyson – albeit from the dogs’ eye view. Kids being afraid of dogs, he reacted. This led one of the dog to almost bite him on his leg. He got up and ran to save himself from the dogs. The most obvious followed this event – he tripped and fell. I am not sure if my son was influenced by Don Quixote of the “wind mill” while he fought off the dogs! He was lucky that he was wearing denims. Else, he would have a lost a few bones to the full-mouth bite of the dog (he is very skinny, so there was no scope of a meaty meal for the dog! Alas, the dog may have been disappointed!)

My son did not take a leaf from Mowgli of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book and swing out of the way of the dog to the nearest tree to save himself. I regret not training my son a la Tarzan and wasting my precious resources on his cricket.

I, with my wife in toe, set off on an expedition to Jeevan Anmol Hospital where my son was served Rabivax injection, with all due courtesies of bandages, medicines, et al. The cost of medicines was no less that the delicacies served in seven-star hotels. Having taken appointments for receiving the next round of “delicacies’ we were ‘Beating Retreat’. We were almost polishing off the four-course ‘servings’ extended by the hospital, when my car-pool partner, having given a serious thought to environment protection, preferred to pillion-ride a scooter with the second pool partner. This was not so appreciated by the sentinels of the streets – they chased him out of his decision to care for Dear Environment. They seemed to have fancied his strong fleshy limbs – which were out of bounds and eluded them as he everyday travelled by car. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, they went for a generous bite of his calf-muscles.

Hence the inevitable trip to “Vaidyo Narayana” (The curer of God), at a ‘modern temple’ called hospital. The ‘dakshina’ offered to the ‘Narayana‘ was hefty.

The doctor was surely a great marketing personal – indeed he ‘sold’ the idea of how dreadful the bite may turn out to be, forcing my colleague to empty his wallet.

I was not too sure whether my friend was grimacing over the dog bite or the doctor’s ‘bite’ into his wallet (soft skills?!)

With this tale of two canine encounters serving as a backdrop, I put a poser to my Lane Association. With due apologies to animal rights activities, supporters and their ilk, there are laws to protect the ‘poor sentinels of the streets’ from human offenders, but what about ‘poor humans’ hunted down by the formidable sentinels?

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