There is an animal inside every man, which occasionally reveals itself. Thankfully there’s isn’t a man inside every animal, therefore rapes are an unknown phenomenon in the remainder of the animal kingdom (as far as I know and that’s not very far). Ever since man has become conscious of the environment around himself, he has sought the company of animals. Animals that helped him in his work, guarded his belongings, kept pests away, entertained him or animals that just looked good.

Animals will do better without man meddling in their affairs, but man without animals wouldn’t have achieved all that he has. Leafing through RK Narayan’s autobiography ‘My Days’ (a fresh copy which I picked up after a serious bout of bargaining on my Sunday haunt of Delhi’s Daryaganj for Rs. 20) I related to his lack of success with pets during his early childhood. When an animal or bird (or whatever) is with us, alive and breathing, it forms a part of our lives. But when it departs we mourn a little, get on with our lives and perhaps procure a new replacement.

Whenever I think of pets, I think cats. Those arrogant and ungrateful but nevertheless adorable creatures. My childhood was full of them and an odd mongrel. One winter morning, she and her little kittens lay splattered on the asphalt. Perhaps a truck ran over them. The mongrel persisted for many years until his euthanasia. A decade lapsed and mice became a serious menace in our household. My aunt who had four generations of felines under her roof, spared two kittens.

Sarangi (a musical instrument) and Madan (the god of love), the brother and sister duo who fought like a married couple came into our lives. Madan being the man he loitered around, paying occasional visits and Sarangi got busy warding off and welcoming prospective suitors and tending the litters resulting from those nocturnal rendezvous. My mother got busy distributing them to unwilling neighbours. But some toms occasionally remained unclaimed and continued to spend wintry nights beneath the quilts of my brother and me.

I had seen Sarangi chasing away full grown dogs to protect her kittens and when they were given away she peed on the beds and the sofas in retaliation. Someone killed her and Madan ran way. Sarangi’s offspring Motu (the fat one) and Kalu (the black one) lingered for sometime and then followed Madan’s pawsteps. After a lull of six months came Champaklal, a tom with the arrogance of a lion. Our home seemed too small a den for him and off he went to explore the world outside.

My mother went back to purchasing rat poison and our home never remained the same. Especially with stinking dead mice stuck in unreachable crevices.

I Love My Dog

I love my dog as much as I love you
But you may fade, my dog will always come through.

All he asks from me is the food to give him strength
All he ever needs is love and that he knows he’ll get

So, I love my dog as much as I love you
But you may fade, my dog will always come through.

All the pay I need comes shining through his eyes
I don’t need no cold water to make me realize that.

I love my dog as much as I love you
But you may fade, my dog will always come through.

– Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam)

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