Her Violent Death Taught Me The Lesson Of My Life
Her Violent Death Taught Me The Lesson Of My Life8 mins 184 8 mins 184
It was a cold and still winter night. The sky was bereft of clouds and through the misty darkness, one could clearly see the glittering shimmer of the twinkling distant stars. Everything seemed frozen by the bitter cold, including the feelings of empathy in many a human heart. The eerie silence was occasionally punctuated by the rhythmic sound of the falling dry leaves of the giant Oak tree, on the moist and cold soil below, as if, covering the shivering earth, in nature's blanket.
The dewdrops on the grass blades were shining like sparkling diamonds, from the reflected light of the municipal street lamps which hung low. This made me, for a moment, think about the many members of my own species, who live lives in reflected glory; unable to live lives of their own.
I did not know whether nature was imitating this trait from mankind, or was it vice versa!
The bright yellow light rays from the municipal lamppost tore through the fog, revealing the dirty smog that hung low in the atmosphere. For a moment, they also reminded me of the evil thoughts that usually hang low in the minds of most Homo –Sapiens like me. I wasn’t surprised!
A pair of pigeons that were perched on a high branch, of the Oaktree, suddenly took flight, to take shelter on the portico of my house.
A cat, along with her kittens, was on the opposite side of the road, feasting on the just thrown garbage. I would have expected the members of a canine family, which usually parks themselves close to the garbage vat, to give chase to their natural enemy, and the cat with its proverbial nine lives, to, as usual, jump through the gaps in the iron gate of Mrs. Chopra’s house; while the dogs would keep barking,madly, with their hind legs on the ground, and the fore legs ,high up on the gate, as though they were trying to break open the iron gate and continue with this ‘cat and dog’ game, which most of us, anyway, are adept at, and enjoy playing!.
But times have changed. It appears even dogs have become more tolerant, while, we humans have slipped down several places in the “Tolerance” index, busy fragmenting peoples minds, not only on the basis of gender but worse still, on the basis of color, creed, race, caste, status, abilities or rather disabilities and religion.
Oh! Where we humans are heading, momentarily, I thought!
It was late in the night; early morning in fact, as I was deeply engrossed in my books, preparing for the ensuing examinations.
And then I heard the noise; that terribly irritating noise, which pierced through the still darkness and hit my ears with all its intensity.
The quietness of the night made the barking sound of the street dogs seem louder than usual.
This was not the first time that I heard them barking away in the middle of the night. It had become a routine. No sooner did I get engrossed with my studies, than the barking began. There seemed to be a perfect synchronization. I had always known that dogs did have a powerful olfactory sense, but this was too much, even for my mischievous mind!
Once they started, their barking would continue for hours.
It was impossible for me to study, or for that matter sleep.
There were twenty of them; six dogs, eight bitches, and six puppies.
I had tracked them and swore to eliminate them, to stop their incessant barking in the middle of the night; this was getting the better of me.
They were sitting under the giant canopy of the Oaktree, all curled up, to retain whatever little heat their improvised bodies could retain, by cuddling up together. The puppies were sucking the last drops of milk from the mammary glands of the undernourished bitches, feeling safe, by the occasional licking of their coats by their mothers.
Safety is such an illusion. Even while death looked greedily on them through the pointer of my rifle, they thought they were safe!
This is not a phenomenon confined to dogs alone. It is even more prevalent among humans. The only difference is that most of us take this illusory sense of safety for granted; dogs though, are ever vigilant!
It is quite a sadistic experience to watch the last few moments of a group belonging to the Canidae family. I was, though, as most of us, enjoying this sadism.
Some of the dogs were sitting listlessly. One was rubbing its thick grey coat against the bark of the giant Oaktree. Another one, a rather huge one, was urinating in a circle, demarcating his territory, protectively. All this while, the barking –the howling, continued.
This senseless, irritating sound was similar to the cacophony usually created, when a group of college friends, after ages, meet and sit down together, to talk about their college days, usually to rip down the reputation of many of their former teachers, with a bottle or two in their hands. Both made no sense to me.
I remembered, suddenly, how this ‘gang’, had hounded me since childhood. It seemed there was an old enmity between them and me. Their howling seemed always to intensify, closer to my examinations.
I would not like to put the entire blame of my rather, consistently pathetic, results at school, entirely on their shoulders. But there was no denying the fact, that their howling did disturb me, and cause me to perform poorly.
I remembered, how due to their howling, I could not memorize a poem, and so missed out on representing my school at the elocution contest. How, their barking kept me awake all night; only to drain me out of all energy, and make me miss winning the first prize in the 400 meters race during the inter-school sports.
I even remembered their howling when I was watching, on television, India winning the Cricket World Cup. No! They wouldn’t let me enjoy even a fleeting moment of joy in my banal, nebulous, and insipid life!
A sudden gush of rage went up to my spine. Today was my day, or rather my night. Today this ordeal would permanently end.
All I wanted to do was shoot; shoot away madly, till I could shoot no more.
All I wanted to do was kill, till I could kill no more.
I wanted each and everyone from that ‘gang’ killed.
I wanted to see blood rushing out in unstoppable gushes from their wounds, drenching even further, the moist, cold earth. I wanted to hear their howling, their barking, for one last time, as I watched, in gruesome delight, life ebbing out of their tortured bodies. Have I become a modern-day mercenary? I thought, as my thoughts were quite similar to them.
How mean I had become, I did not know. Revenge had overtaken and overpowered all other senses, as it so often does, even to the strongest and the most powerful among us.
Who was I? Just a petty, little student!
I wanted, with much eagerness, to hear the dying sounds of this family; as though the shrieking sounds would pierce through the abominable silence of this rather dark, still and foggy night; as though it would be heralding to me, that the sun of peace and calmness, was about to rise in my turbulent life.
I took aim. My first target was the large one, who was peeing to demarcate his territory. Protectively!
Even in this dark and still night, I could clearly see his shining eyes. Those wicked eyes.
My fingers went for the trigger. The metal trigger did not seem to me, to have become any colder, than the coldness felt in the hearts of most of my fellow humans!
As my finger caressed the curvature of the trigger, just about to press it, unexpectedly, a little puppy came in between my rifle and the large one. Momentarily, instinctively, I stopped.
She must have been barely a few months old, still wobbly on her feet.
I could clearly see her moist eyes. Those little pools of eternal love, friendship, and faithfulness, which members of my community have long forgotten. For a moment, my fingers froze.
I was terrified of her serenity, frightened by the enormity of my senseless action. Trembling because of her innocence. She was so magnificent, so grand, that I paled in front of her.
She reminded me of what Roger A. Caras had said, and I quote “Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and trust.
They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made”, unquote.
Any sane person would have thrown away the rifle, run out, and hugged this little puppy.
He would have repented for what he was about to do.
Not me. I was made of much harder stuff.
God has bestowed on mankind, knowing fully well, the evil force that he could become, an automatic control device. Perhaps, as an afterthought, to rectify, if possible, the manufacturing defects of his factory. We humans term this as Conscience.
However, humans have learned to switch this off. I was a master at this. I had short-circuited my Conscience, to permanently switch it off.
So often, do so many of us, choose not to listen to the little tidings of our hearts.
I was one of them.
The bayonet was pointed right between her eyes. Those soft, mystical, innocent eyes; as though begging for forgiveness.
I pressed the trigger.
The bullet tore the deathly stillness of the air, and lodged right on target, as the little puppy, unaware, looked silently at me, one last time, till in a flash, the luster in her eyes vanished, and with a squeak, she fell on the ground.
God-given life was stuffed out of this tiny body, even before she could understand the meaning of life; leave aside living it.
Something in my soul, or rather whatever little of it was left got snuffed out too, in the still, deathly silence of that cold night. Forever!
Even in her death, she was more powerful than me.
Her death taught me a lesson in my life.
Though I had killed her, she had won!
I had lost again!