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Preethi Warrier



Preethi Warrier


In Search Of Devam

In Search Of Devam

5 mins 9.1K 5 mins 9.1K

He sipped his morning tea, with a smile playing on his lips. Venu returned the newspaper back to the roadside vendor, the headlines had made his day. The Government would now finally take some action to curb the stray dog menace; it was soon going to issue an order for culling the strays in Kanyakumari.

A daily wage labourer, setting out for yet another day of hardship, Venu couldn’t have been happier. Having lived all his life in his dingy shanty by the seashore, he seldom had any reasons to rejoice.

His childhood memories were worse, his father being a fisherman, their house was a makeshift structure of wooden planks. The rains lashed his coastal town hard and every time it rained heavily, his family was left homeless, forced to live on the pavement till they could erect a home again. It was only when he took up a labourer job in the fast developing town, that they moved to a concrete home.

But off late, his slum colony had been grappling with a different kind of predicament spreading fast in Kerala, the stray dog menace. Dogs had never been an issue before, in fact they guarded the colony at night. But lately, their numbers had risen alarmingly and perhaps it was the garbage they ate or the stale food, the dogs were turning increasingly aggressive and hostile.

Returning home after dark had soon turned into a nightmare for many. The dogs loitered around in packs, under fading street lights, ready to attack. Kids, old, drunks often fell prey, running and screaming for their lives. Venu had not paid much heed, until that fateful day, when the tragedy knocked at his doors.

His ten year old son had been visiting a friend, to play games and had been attacked on his way back home. The little kid had been chased, bitten, mauled and killed. His son’s had been the first incidence of death. The press swooped down, there were news channel vans everywhere, demanding an answer from the government. The family members shed copious tears, relatives wept calling it DEVAM’s (GOD’s) will, but Venu showed no signs of mourning. DEVAM did not exist.

What had DEVAM given him after all? In spite of his poverty, he had ever complained. He had caused no harm, had been devoted to his family and GOD, but what had he achieved? DEVAM, humanity, conscience, he did not care anymore. He was determined, he wanted revenge.

Under his directions, the residents of his slum undertook a new mission, finishing off any stray in their locality, and in the goriest way possible. Venu and gang chased the dogs, rounded them, pelted stones, at times resorted to God forsaken punishments, but made sure the dog died an evil death. One of his triumphant moments was captured on a cell phone and circulated online.

Venu had to spend a night at the lock up, animal activists had registered a case against him. He had been strictly warned to get his act straight and refrain from such heinous activities. The opposition demanded a solution, there were debates in the media and finally today, Venu had won. The government had agreed to cull them all. That meant he could get rid of Browny too.

A few months back, his youngest daughter had rescued an orphan pup from the gutter. She had formed a special bond with the pup Browny, the puny animal adored her, following her around wagging it’s tail. Venu had tried everything under the sun to get rid of it, but Browny was his daughter’s only best friend. One of the days when Browny had strayed away elsewhere and disappeared for a while, his daughter had refused to eat, sobbing all day. She had taken ill and accused Venu of slaughtering the pup. Even his wife had pleaded with him to get Browny back, for the sake of the kid. Browny had surfaced two days later much to everybody’s relief and Venu was now helpless, he had lost a son, he didn’t want to hurt his daughter.

That night, he watched his daughter put Browny to sleep just outside his shanty and Venu let her enjoy those moments, he would hand over the pup to the municipality tomorrow when she would be at school. Sleep came easily to him that night, finally, his son would be avenged.

It was perhaps the early hours of morning, when he was jolted awake with a huge surge of sea water in his house. He couldn’t figure out what was happening, he couldn’t see, it was all dark, there was nothing under his feet, he felt he was swimming, there was water everywhere. He hit things on the way, he could hardly breathe. After what seemed like ages, he felt his head out of water, but he failed to understand what had happened. Looking up, he saw dawn breaking. Blinking and rubbing his eyes, he realized he was on the beach, there was devastation all over. What had just happened?

The world was shaken with the Tsunami of Indian Ocean which had massacred millions of lives with one tidal wave. Venu had rushed to gather what was left of his home when he came to his senses, but what he saw was beyond his comprehension. His entire family had been pulled under water that fateful night, nothing remained. Amidst the strewn dead bodies, wailing survivors, uprooted trees, slush, and shattered homes, he desperately tried to look for some familiar face, someone he knew. But there was so much confusion around, he just collapsed on the sand, the world around him frozen.

“Venu,” someone was nudging him, “ Hurry, come with me. She’s up there on a tree, let’s go fetch her.”

His neighbour almost pulled him as they both ran to witness what people later called, God’s miracle. Perched high on a branch was Browny, tightly clutching Venu’s daughter’s sleeve. The little girl was calling for help and by the time Venu arrived, volunteers had rescued the girl and the pup.

Help arrived, there were doctors, police, volunteers, reporters and food. Venu sat far from the crowd, watching his daughter share her food with Browny. He wiped his tears off, when his neighbour joined him.

“You were right Venu, I have lost all faith in DEVAM. What did we do to deserve this?” the man lamented.

Venu continued to stare listlessly in his daughter’s direction, the image of Browny saving her life, fresh in his mind.

His life, his world, seemed to merge at that moment, all his doubts washed away...Yes, DEVAM did exist.

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