It was a humid summer morning of 2008. At home, Dad and mom were arguing over something. I, in my late teens was feeling annoyed over my parents constant fighting. While I was waiting for the right opportunity for intervening and may be a little refereeing, Mom’s phone started ringing suddenly. She was trying to finish a long sentence and when she heard the phone stopped abruptly and answered it with a curt “hello”. After a few seconds of ‘okay’s she hung up and turned towards me, “it is time to pick up the puppy. Will you look after it or will it be another burden on me”. Her tone was threatening. Being quite disgusted by the fighting and the sour tone, I was about to spit out ‘to hell with your puppy’. But somehow the words came out as “yes, I will look after it. I promise”.
Looking back, this was the best split second decision that I have ever made. I wanted to have a pet ever since I can remember. After so many years of waiting, my dream was coming true. It was pretty exciting that I am getting a Labrador retriever. I still remember seeing him for the first time, Just fifty days old, with his fluffy white coat, curious big brown eyes, big paws and short little tail, anyone would melt away at the sight of him. When we took him out of his cage he rushed towards his mummy and started running around her gleefully. When I took him in my arms and carried him to the car, he had a frightened look in his face. But just after 5 to 10 minutes he became so comfortable that he jumped all over me. I had to finally stop the car and put him in a cardboard box to continue driving. So began our journey together.
The first few days were difficult for both of us. He was my first pet, hence I had no idea how to take care of him. As I didn’t have a cage I let him free inside the house. It proved to be a bad decision. I ended up cleaning after him all the time. At last, feeling frustrated I covered my toilet floor with newspapers and put him in it. When he understood that no amount of moaning and wailing is going to work, he adjusted strategy and started barking. A sound so intense and with perfect bass, it startled everyone. I had difficulty believing that it was coming from a fifty day old puppy. I quickly took him out fearing the neighbours complaining and let him roam around the house as he wished.
Slowly we got to know each other. I named him Kittu. He was always hungry and had inexhaustible energy when it came to playing. He chased butterflies, bit anything that could fit to his mouth, ran around the house, uprooted my mother’s favourite plants and so on. He became naughtier and more loving by day. It was difficult to take eyes off him for even a minute. If we were not paying him attention, he would create all kinds of troubles.
There was one incident where my brother Dinu was getting ready for the Gym. Forgetting to take his towel he placed the key for his motor cycle outside and went in. When he came back the key was missing. He turned the whole place over and still couldn’t find it. Then he noticed that Kittu was unusually calm with a smug look in his face. When, after a lot of cajoling he wouldn’t budge, Dinu opened his mouth forcefully and found the key, which he was hiding all that time.
In such mischievous ways Kittu became every one’s favourite with in no time. He ran behind everyone and played a lot. His favourite game is fetch. He could play fetch day in and day out. But the only problem is that he would never return the ball. When all attempts retrieve the ball from him failed, I bought a second ball. It worked. He would put the first ball down so that he could go and fetch the second one. So, long story short, instead of me training him, he trained me.
One of the most impressive things about him is his intelligence and power of comprehension. He would quickly perceive our moods and would adjust his response accordingly. In fact he had different approaches towards each one of us. He knows he can pull anything with my dad and so is most mischievous with him. As he considers mom weak to his standards, he would not make her sweat much. With me and my brother he plays rough and wouldn’t mind a play bite or two. He is most careful and loving around my 2-year-old nephew Ephrem and just a tinge suspicious of my Sister-in-law for no apparent reason. Dad always referred to Kittu as his youngest son. I haven’t seen dad caring for any one, let alone his children, so keenly. We were all a little jealous of him.
When I went to middle east after graduation, I missed him dearly. I even had dreams about playing with him. Mom said Kittu refused to come out of his cage and even eat anything for almost a fortnight. I guess he missed me too. When it was time for my annual leave, no one was happier than Kittu. When I came home, he was so excited that he ran around and jumped all over me. No one provided a more overwhelming welcome than him.
Though nine years old, he is still full of energy and is most ecstatic. To spend time with him is really fulfilling and relaxing thing. He is mostly happy and likes us fondling him a lot. When you decide to pet him, you will find a permanent job. Sometimes I try to picture how it would feel to be him, to look through his eyes and perceive the world as he does. The universe would be full of fun and all experiences so colorful. Moreover, I realized that he holds us in such high regard and considers us the best. It is like being a demigod. I hope I could really be the person he believes me to be.
Long before I read a Mexican folklore in which pets are considered as guides for their master’s journey to the spiritual realm. Though I considered it fiction at the time, the implications feels very real now. Think of it, Kittu made me feel happy when I felt miserable, hopeful when forlorn, active when sedentary, and pitiful to all living things. In effect he has made me more compassionate, loving and caring individual than I used to be. He even proved to be a distraction for my parents from their petty issues. So he has done more good to us than any religion or any spiritual master. . In a world of deceit, hatred and treachery his unconditional love proves that there is hope after all. If he isn’t a spiritual companion…..who is?
I sometimes imagine how it would have turned out if I had said no to mom in the heat of the moment. A life without Kittu…What a waste it would have been.