Shunu was a dog’s man. Yes, read that again – he was a dog’s man. Why else would Zarak take to him and make him his Master, despite the fact that he already had one?
My maternal uncle, whom I called Shunu took long walks in the morning. He usually took his dog with him. At this time, he was alone and at around 7 am, having walked many miles, he landed up at his friend’s house, for tea and biscuits. His friend lived not too far away from ours, rather close to the Jail Road Boys High School, Shillong, where my grandfather was the Headmaster during his working years.
Shunu’s friend had acquired a fluffy little tennis ball, with a tiny black nose and black and brown fur all over him, a little Alsatian puppy called Zarak. No sooner did Shunu sit himself in the sunny courtyard, on a moorah, Zarak jumped on his lap and began to bounce around as if he had met a long lost friend. Shunu spoke very little but he made some sounds, which the little pup understood and perking his ears in disbelief, looked every now and then to make sure he had heard right. Indeed, Shunu was only making it known to the pup that he must now stop jumping up and down, slipping once or twice and falling off the lap, yelping and crying and then back again on Shunu’s lap, over and over again! Zarak couldn’t care. He listened to no one, and his Master brought out the ruler pretending to threaten him, but Zarak grabbed the ruler and began to chew it! After some time, when the little tennis ball’s energy seemed to have subsided, did Shunu get to quench his thirst with a cuppa.
Zarak, grew fast and when he was three months old, he was already huge. The relationship between man and dog had already been established and one day, we found Zarak had come home, all by himself! How did he do that? He followed Shunu’s scent from his first Master’s house to ours. Within moments, our cook was sent to inform Zarak’s family that he had come to ours. The distraught family sighed in relief, but not even an elephant could take Zarak back to his own home. He refused to go. His Master, cajoled, pulled him by his chain, but Zarak could not be moved.
So Zarak became our dog too. There was no saying how long he would stay with us and when he would return to his Master. Shunu was his second Master and when he had had his fill in this house, he would go to the other. Sometimes he stayed for months, sometimes only a few days. He was divided in his loyalties and so, when he was with us, he I guess did not at all think of his first Master.
They suited each other perfectly, Shunu and Zarak. Shunu was Zarak’s Man! Royal Bengal Tigers!
Yesterday I saw the video of the man who had fallen into the white tiger’s den in Delhi, India and was mauled by the tiger. Zarak looked so much like the tiger. He was ferocious too. People were so afraid to come to our home, because, he would grab then by their ankle, if he was not tied up. Sometimes, he broke thick chains to pounce at visitors.
BEWARE OF DOGS, was not what we ever wrote on our wall or gate though. Although, in later years whenever, I thought about it, I said, we ought to have written:
BE AWARE OF WHO YOU ARE INSIDE, BEFORE YOU COME IN!
Stories from childhood by Julia Dutta, in anticipation of Terry and His Little Brothers
Photo credit: http://image.rvmagonline.com/f/features/1406-rv-winter-blues-highway-tales/62585119/highway-tales-man-with-dog.jpg