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ravi s

Children Stories Drama Tragedy


4.5  

ravi s

Children Stories Drama Tragedy


Why I Love Kaalu?

Why I Love Kaalu?

11 mins 61 11 mins 61

I remembered Kaalu yesterday when I was talking to a friend of mine about strange and paranormal events that happen in our lives. It was in the seventies that I had set up my factory in Dahanu, about 100 kilometers from Mumbai. We were manufacturing wires of the kind that are used by electricity boards for power distribution lines. It was a small unit with 30 employees, and we were doing fine. I stayed in Mumbai and traveled to my factory on alternate days by train. From Dahanu station I had to hire an autorickshaw to reach the factory which was about 15 kilometers away.


Our operations were just a year old when Kaalu visited us. He was not invited to the factory, but he somehow felt drawn to the site. Kaalu was a stray, and by nature, they drift from place to place, wandering aimlessly. The security guard shooed him away only to find that Kaalu returned after a while. The guard was impressed with Kaalu’s persistence and gave him something to eat. Kaalu began visiting the site every day and seemed to be winning over more and more of my employees. As he was black, the guard named him Kaalu, and the dog seemed to like the name for he would respond positively.


On one of my visits, I found Kaalu following me and trying to make friends with me. My guard had already told me about Kaalu, and I had allowed him to entertain the dog if he behaved himself. I was not particularly fond of canines and had hence only a cursory interest in his presence in our factory.

That day, however, Kaalu followed me and as I reached the gates of the production shed to enter, he kept following me. I stopped and looked at him. He too stopped and looked at me. Our eyes had met for the first time and we held each other's gaze for a while. There was something about the way Kaalu looked at me that created a stir in my heart. I waved him away and turned to enter the workshop. He waited for a while and followed me. A sense of irritation was building in me and I felt like shouting at him to obey me, for I was the Master here. But this feeling was quickly replaced without my will and I kept walking, allowing him to follow me.


Heavy machineries were installed in this workshop, and my office was on the upper floor. The critical machinery was fixed on an elevated cement platform and the surrounding floor was painted in green. Except for the operators, other staff was not to step onto the green zone or go near the machinery. It could be hazardous as the entire machinery moved with rapid speed.


I looked at Kaalu and spoke to him sternly:

“Look dog, you must never go there” pointing to the green zone. “Do you understand? Never.” Kaalu looked in the direction of my hand and then at me, as if he understood what I was telling him. As I continued to take the flight of stairs to my office, he trotted behind me. I stopped him in his tracks. “You must not come up either, understood?” Kaalu looked disappointed and ran out of the workshop.

I told the security guard to find a place where Kaalu can sit and sleep at night. The guard told me that the pillar to which the factory gate was tethered had a square space, enough for Kaalu to squat and relax. I asked him how he could get on top of the wall which was about 4 feet in height? He showed me a place near the compound wall where a large mound of debris was accumulated. Kaalu would climb on the mound and jump on the wall, he said. Kaalu was comfortable with his resting place and soon made it his home. The guard had put a few gunny bags on the square space for Kaalu to sit comfortably.


It was not long before all of us in the factory fell in love with Kaalu. He became our sentinel, sitting on top of the wall near the main gate. He would signal the arrival of people and vehicles by barking. He would spot them from afar and alert the guard. I could not help admiring Kaalu, though I could not find any special reason for my affection.

Kaalu took full advantage of my soft feeling for him and was soon walking with me up the stairs into my office. When I was not in my office, he would sometimes find a comfortable chair to sit upon and have a nap!


Trouble started brewing for my business soon after we completed a year. There was a technical issue which confounded even our experts. The wires would keep breaking during production for no apparent reason. We invited specialists but of no avail.

My staff was like one big family and we never had any problem with our employees. But soon, the comrades of workers’ unions began visiting our factory and talking to employees about their rights. They asked me to provide uniforms and identity cards for the employees and sought permission to plant their red flag on our gate and even put up a signboard. The gullible employees were slowly convinced that they had to form a union in the factory.


The technical problems and union activities were making me uneasy. My chief foreman, a gem of a man, shared my concerns. He was also concerned about some other strange happenings in the factory and worried about what all these developments meant for our business.


Our factory was in a sprawling industrial area and there were manufacturing units all around us. One day, my foreman, who hailed from Andhra, ran up to me and said:

“Sir, the factory next to ours. They too are having some strange problems. The owners have called a Vaastu expert from Hyderabad. Should I ask him to visit our factory also?”


I did not believe in Vaastu and any other kind of superstition for that matter. But seeing that my main officer was earnest and keen to have the factory inspected by the Vaastu expert, I told him to go ahead. At least for his satisfaction. As the expert was from his native state, my foreman was confident that he could talk him into the visit, free of cost.

On my next visit to my factory, my foreman rushed to me with very unsettling information. The Vaastu expert from Andhra had visited. Even as he was moving around the workshop, he had stopped abruptly and said to the foreman:

“Ask your owner to stay away from this place. There is a grave danger for him here. He will die here if he does not heed the warning. Some unbelievably bad vibrations are coming, and I can feel it. It is telling me about death.”


My foreman was disturbed, and I did not know what to make of the expert’s warning. Even though I did not believe in the paranormal or supernatural phenomena, this information managed to add to my already disturbed thoughts. But I knew that we had to put this warning aside and I told my foreman that he should focus on work and not worry about anything else.


I told you that my factory was located at a distance from the railway station and I took an auto-rickshaw to travel from and to the station. One day, as usual, I picked up my bag and left the office for home. I had to walk up to the main road which was a good five-minute walk from the factory to take the auto. Kaalu had developed the habit of following me from the gate up to a point which led to the main road. I had cautioned Kaalu not to come beyond this point as I was afraid that he may be hit by a vehicle if he came on to the main road. Between Kaalu and me, we had a perfect understanding about this matter, and he would faithfully return from that point. He would wait there looking at me till I reached the main road when I would turn back and wave at him to go. He would then return to the factory.


On this day, I waited on the side of the main road for the auto to come, but not one auto came. After waiting for fifteen minutes, I felt tired and walked up to the tree nearby and sat beneath it on a stone. I kept my bag on the ground.

After forty-five minutes, the auto came, and I thankfully jumped into it. As it sped towards the station, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to pick up my bag which I had kept on the ground under the tree. We were, by now, more than halfway to the station. I asked the auto driver to turn around and take me back to the spot where he picked me up. My mind was churning with worrisome thoughts. There was money inside the bag and important papers. If the bag were stolen, I would be put to great trouble.


As we rushed back and approached the tree when I was sitting, I saw someone sitting under the tree. As we drove near, I saw that it was Kaalu! I was amazed to see the dog sitting over the bag, protecting it and waiting for me to come! I wondered how he knew about the bag. For all I know, he had turned back and gone to the factory after our parting point. Kaalu sprang and rushed at me in delight, tongue hanging out and tail wagging vigorously. He kept looking at me and the bag as if to say that I need not worry. He was there to protect me and my belongings!


A month later, there was a terrible accident in our factory. I got a call late in the night from my foreman informing me that one of our men in the factory was grievously injured and was being rushed to the hospital. The accident happened when the worker who was on the night shift, heard an unusual noise coming from one of the machines. He had gone near the machine to see what was wrong. Our employees had been clearly warned not to go near the machines when they hear abnormal sounds but switch off the machine at once. The machine burst with a loud bang and the fast-moving parts flew and hit the worker with great force. Before I reached the hospital the next day, the worker was dead.


My foreman was shaken, just as I was. This kind of incident was an exceedingly rare occurrence in our industry. He had spoken to the Vaastu expert in Andhra. The expert warned him again that this was an awfully bad sign, an omen for darker things to come. He once again repeated his advice, to ask the owner to leave the location. He also asked him to find out more about the history of the land.


After this tragic accident, the union comrades became aggressive and struck a sympathetic chord with the employees. That was, however, the least of my problems. The technical woes resulted in slowing down of production and consequently a failure to meet supply deadlines. A severe financial situation was quickly developing. Meanwhile, my foreman had enquired and dug into land records and came up with more unsettling information. The land over which the factory shed was constructed was once a cemetery or a cremation ground.


Left to me, I would not have lent much weight to this historical evidence, but it had a profoundly serious effect on my foreman and other employees.

It was in the middle of all this that the Kaalu accident happened.

One night, I received a call from my foreman informing me that Kaalu was injured seriously. I requested my foreman to immediately rush Kaalu to the vet and not to spare any expense to get him the best treatment.


The next day, I saw Kaalu in the hospital, quite unconscious. He had severe fractures in his legs and the doctor was not confident about Kaalu’s survival. My heart sank as I looked at Kaalu, lying motionless on the bench. A huge lump had formed in my throat and I could not stop myself from crying. Soon, I was weeping inconsolably. I felt sorrow for Kaalu; I felt grief for the dead workman; I felt pity for myself, the state of utter helplessness I was in; for my factory which was standing on the threshold of liquidation. For all the money I and my partners would lose. For all the debts that we would owe to various clients and vendors. A Tsunami of grief and helplessness shook me with great violence and force.


But all these tears will not bring Kaalu back to life. There was only one solution for Kaalu. Put him down.


We buried Kaalu on our factory grounds. After all the grief and tear shedding, I now felt emptiness and quiet within me. There was only one thought in my mind; what had happened to Kaalu?

The security guard told us that on the night of the incident, Kaalu, as usual, was on the wall near the gate. The guard was on duty and had somewhat dozed off. The loud barking noise woke him up, and he saw Kaalu stand on his fours looking and barking at something right over the top of the factory shed. The guard shouted at Kaalu to stop, but Kaalu seemed to get more animated. He had seen something, but it was not visible to the guard. Kaalu was looking up and over the shed at the heavens at some invisible entity. He was furiously barking in anger and fear. Then, suddenly, he leapt into the air towards the invisible enemy. The guard had never seen anyone, let alone a dog, leaping so high in the air. Before long, Kaalu lost momentum in the air and his body hurtled down to the ground. He fell with a heavy thud, landing on his four legs: and unconscious.

What happened to Kaalu? What did he see in the skies? Why was he afraid of it? Why did he take the leap? To protect the factory?


I shall never know the answers to all these questions. Even today, as I speak about Kaalu, my eyes fill up and in my mind’s eye, I can see the adorable dog leaping into the air at the enemy only he could see.



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