Once upon a time, I was so fond of humans.
I used to let myself go adrift, along with the whimsical winds. I watched people of different ages do different things. I saw a man sit on the footpath every single day with a bowl and a ragged cloth before him. I saw young boys and girls sharing ice-creams under the trees. I saw old men and women walk out of temples with hope in their eyes and sticks in their shivering hands. I saw kids being scolded by parents for reasons unfathomable to me. And I? I just wagged my tail and kept sprinting from shop to shop, and dug my roots deep before the one whose shopkeeper was kind enough to throw me a biscuit from a small packet. Humans were happy souls. They were kind. Yes, I have been kicked by many. My little tail had, on numerous occasions, been trampled by people who were either extremely busy or extremely drunk. But, I know love when I get to feel the warmth of it. People not only throw me foods, but some of them also caress me. They run their fingers, in an incredibly endearing manner, all over my head and my ears. Some do it out of love. Some do it to impress somebody else, maybe. In any case, I love it more than the thrown biscuits. When you cuddle a street dog, he feels like that arid desert who receives the first drops of rains after decades of hope.
But one night, I witnessed something awful, and which is still a mystery to me. That night, I was full, as the leftovers from the neighboring restaurant were almost double the regular quantity. I was walking towards my home – the warm little nook by the lane. I loved seclusion, unlike other dogs, and so it was my home – my sanctum sanctorum. I was almost there when I smelt something. It was a sweet smell, and it was sweat. Human sweat. I walked closer and watched two silhouettes murmuring in the dark. I had never seen any human in this place, except for the man who cleans the garbage. Who were these men? I kept circling them. They hardly cared to notice me. The man tried to shoo me away, but a short bark from my side made him change his mind. He wanted it to be quiet.
The woman with her had a small packet-like object in her arms. She quietly put it down, just by the drain, and the two hurriedly left the place without even turning back. The first thought that came to mind was ‘food’ – pardon me for thinking like that. I’m nothing but a mongrel, and it is food that matters the most. I sniffed around the packet and immediately jerked back. It smelt like – humans. I waited for a few moments and pulled the cloth off. The sight sent chills and tremors deep down to my bones.
In the small box was a little child. Probably a new-born. A baby. A baby girl.
I could not grasp the gravity of the situation for quite some time. I looked around, but the people were gone. There was nobody else there, except me, and the endless darkness crouching over the entire city slowly. My gaze found its way back to the little child once again. She was sniffling. It was cold outside, and she did not even have any clothes on. Her tiny fingers were shivering in fear – no, she was too small to feel fear. It was just the cold.
I ran towards the few open shops on the streets. I kept barking, quite furiously, but all I got was a couple of stones from one, and some pretty abusive language from the other. I ran to another one, a little far away, and kept barking. The shopkeeper was making tea for the man who seemed to be the last customer of the night. Watching me bark, he said something. I did not have the patience to guess what he meant, but I jumped in and clutched his pant with my canines, trying to pull him out. He jerked his leg hard, and I was on the road once again. He threw me a biscuit. I did not even look at it. My appetite had gone for good. I kept barking, on and on, helplessly begging him to come along with me. But he misconstrued my already meaningless language. He just threw me a bigger biscuit this time and closed his shop.
I kept staring at the biscuit for a long time. Then I ran back to the place where the poor baby was, lying all alone, abandoned by the same humans who, as I had always believed, were loving and caring creatures. I tried to fetch people to that spot the rest of the night, but none seemed to care. I was just a dog. I was barking furiously, but that did not catch their attention. Dogs always bark. I finally gave up on the world that had suddenly seemed to have lost its heart that night. I came back and watched a couple of other dogs sniffing around her. I raced, faster than my heart, to the spot and brawled them away from her. No, I had no other option. I had to remain awake and watch her till daylight broke in. I sat by her side. I had no Gods to pray to, so I kept waiting, making my hope my own God. I was so sure she would be dead by morning, but no. Humans do have something in them that is not quite apprehensible to me. It was morning, and she was alive. I could hear her breaths. But she was completely motionless. A few minutes later, the garbage cleaner arrived. I was exhausted, but still I ran to him and made him follow me to the spot. I remember the look on his face. He was perplexed as if he had seen a ghost. He slowly crouched down and picked her up. Then he called out for someone. Three more cleaners came running. They discussed something among themselves, and they slowly walked back towards their van, with the baby girl carefully placed in one of their arms. The garbage was not cleaned that day, but I had never felt happier.
I do not know what happened to that little girl. She was probably taken to some other place; a place far from the two monsters who had left her there to die; a place where she could eat, drink and sleep; where she could grow up clinging to the misconception that all humans are kind. The garbage cleaner was a human, too. He could not stand the sight of a little baby girl lying by the drain. I find it extremely complex to understand….why was she left there in the first place? Was she diseased? But diseases have cures too! Was her being a girl a disease? Because that certainly has no cure…but it need not have to! I have never heard of any mother leaving her own child to rot on the streets….humans gave me a good example of it. I wish she grows up to be healthy, and maybe someday she hears the story about this wretched street dog who had watched over her all night, and she comes to this place to throw me some biscuits and cuddle me.
Now I do the same things I used to do. Nothing has changed for me. I was a dog; I am still a dog. My stomach still rumbles at the smell of thrown away food, and meat, and bones. But now, when ‘humans’ fondle my ears and my head, I try to look into their eyes and desperately try to recognize the man or the woman from that night, who had done something that is unimaginable even for a dog.
But the problem is, now all humans look the same.