“Where the trust in humans ends there the trust in animals begins,” Uncle told. His voice was stern he seemed to have been agitated by my elder aunt’s objection to the arrival of a stray puppy at home.
He was retorting to aunt’s allegation that the puppy would be a nuisance and there was no way she could trust it.
As it was, the courtyard was a mess with pigeon droppings which uncle has kept as pet. The occasional visit of the cat which seemed to spend her dining times at grandmother’s place added to elder aunt’s woes. She was extra conscious about cleanliness and every pet added to her annoyance.
Today my youngest uncle had brought home a puppy. A female puppy likely lost or abandoned and it was the cause of commotion.
Aunt was not one to give up easily. She replied back, “If you are so fond of dogs buy a good breed and keep. What do you do with your salary? Anyhow you eat free at home. How many days will go on like this? No sense of responsibility. At your age, your brother was already married and a father of two. You contribute nothing to family. Just come, eat, sleep, have fun and leave for work! Buy a good breed and keep.”
Grandma overheard the conversation and walked into the courtyard.
“Who are you to tell him what to do? This is my house. And he is keeping his salary for emergency. Did you forget how last year he had spent on your son when he was admitted in hospital?”
Aunt sobered down in a second, “You are not understanding Maa,” she said, "I have no problem with dogs, but these stray dogs can have diseases”.
“O.K. that makes some sense,” grandma replied,” why did you pick up this puppy?” she looked at uncle inquiringly.
“She was lying alone in the street and whining. I felt pity. I will leave her once she grows strong. She will not survive in the streets in this hot summer”.
“As if she will leave the house later,” aunt argued.
“Why don’t you go and look for her mother and once you find her, came back take the puppy and leave her back with her mother?’ grandma looked at uncle.
“I searched but will look again. If I can’t find then she will stay here,’” uncle replied as he left to search for the mother of the puppy in the neighborhood.
“I think this puppy is a good breed. No idea why she was on the street though,” grandma remarked as she left to continue her chores.
It was dinner time and uncle was not yet home.
Everyone was waiting for him including the cat Sumi who had circled a few times around the new arrival. She however did not touch the bowl of milk in front of the puppy. Sumi was the queen of the house. She would not eat or drink from anywhere except her bowl. The little puppy had lapped up a bowl of milk and lay quietly in the courtyard trying to figure out her new world.
There were foot steps and every one turned around. Summer times, dinner was in the courtyard itself due to the heat and no one was expected home so late at night..
A stranger stood in the doorway.
He was no stranger to grandma though. She knew half the folk in town.
“Hey Sushant, what brings you here at this time?” she asked.
“Oh aunty, namaste. I heard Sourav had brought a puppy home,” he said and as he looked at the puppy he exclaimed, "yes there she is.”
Grandma looked at him. “Is that your puppy? Why did you leave her carelessly outside?” Her voice was tough. Grandma did not tolerate animal abuse of any kind.
“No actually our bitch had delivered litters and today we gave away all puppies to people. She is a good breed. She must have followed one of the persons who took her siblings and got lost. We were busy with the stuff of getting the new owners their required information. I am sorry for this.”
“Oh! I see. Yes, he brought her in the evening. He wanted to keep it. What breed is it? It looks like a good breed but she is too young for me to make out”, grandma said.
“She is a labrador, very friendly and very trustworthy. A family dog”, Sushant replied.
“I see , can Sourav keep it?” Grandma asked, “how much do you charge per puppy?”
“No aunty, don't mistake me. I did not come for money. I was concerned after realizing that we were missing one puppy. Sourav can keep it. I do not sell puppies. I just donated them as I have no resources to keep them. This is my dog’s first litter and when I got her, I was not aware she would deliver a litter. Now she will not. We have of course kept another puppy at home, so she does not feel lonely and gave away the rest. You can keep it”.
“Now that you found your puppy, why don't you join for dinner?’ Grandma asked.
“No, we have guests at home. I was worried for the puppy, so I came looking for her.Thank you for taking care of her. It is really hot and she would have perhaps succumbed had she not been fed.” Sushant replied.
“No, thanks to you Sourav will be happy. If you see him loitering round send him home”, grandma said.
“Good night aunty, I will let Sourav know you all are waiting for him. I have to go home for dinner”, Sushant told as he walked away.
It was ten minutes before, we heard Uncle’s foot steps.
‘I did not find her mother,” uncle replied.
“You did not look for her in the right place. You wanted the puppy. You can keep her. Now in the morning go to Sushant’s house and give him some money.”
“Why should…..” uncle stopped in between. He knew when grandmother told a thing, there was never to be an argument against it.
He looked at elder aunt. She turned her face away and started serving food.
“I will join shortly ,” uncle said as he went to his room to get ready and return for dinner.
The puppy lay in the courtyard, wagging her tail as he walked past her.