“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sowing Love



In the train home, I share my cubicle with a large family of grandparents, a couple and their two children. In the adjacent cubicle sit the other members of this extended family. They seem to be quite affluent. The couple is in their late twenties or early thirties; I gather from the conversation that both are doctors. The elder child is a boy of 7 or 8 and the younger one, a toddler, less than 2 years old. The entire group’s attention is focused on the little one. The excessive attention and fondling is irritating her. She bawls at the least provocation.

In spite of their constant cuddling and show of affection, she seems to have taken a fancy to me. Gripping her granddad’s trousers, she looks at me with wide eyes and says – “Gahh! Daa!” as if trying to catch my attention. I try to bury my face in the book, but I can’t help glancing at her, for children of her age has a way of staring unwaveringly at you without being self-conscious. She grins at me. I wiggle my ears, eyebrows. She exclaims- “ Aaakghh!!” I perch my bifocals on my forehead, then back over my eyes and pretend to peer at her. She laughs out.

The family looks condescendingly at our play. But I can feel their discomfort. Mom says- ‘Molu, come, its time for chachu ( bed)’. Instead, she walks up to me. I caress her head. To entertain her, I show the book I am reading. The picture in the jacket is that of a dog. I point to it and say – ‘Bow bow’. She presses her little forefinger on it, looks up me – her expression changes – she says –‘Grrrrrr..’. I am shocked. I turn the pages rapidly. There aren’t many pictures in this book; only etchings at chapter heads. I find an etching of puppies playing. I tell her ‘little bow bow’ and smile at her to indicate that these are friendly creatures. She is grim and shakes her head. She says again – ‘Grrrr…’.

By then I am determined to erase whatever fearful images of dogs this child might be harbouring in her mind. I dip into my bag and pick out another illustrated book on dogs and give it to her. It is one of the secondhand books I had bought at Bangalore. I let her handle the book. She flips through it. She presses her forefinger on each page and looks at me, asking, ‘Aargh? Aargh?’ I keep repeating ‘bow bow’ and make funny faces, trying to convey that these are harmless things. After a few pages, I see her expression changing, especially after a picture of a Golden Retriever. She gurgles. She stomps her feet, wags her arms, laughs – ‘ Oooohhhhh! Ghhhh! ’

The young mother is quite fashionably dressed – bobbed hair, jeans and T-shirt. She beckons to the child and says firmly and slightly threatening – Come, baby, COME NOW!” The child doesn’t show any sign of having heard the command. I hold her close and whisper to her – Poyi chachiko, Ammu’ (Go, sleep, sweetheart).

The toddler leaves. I hope somewhere in her innocent mind would lie a seed of love for dogs. I hope, somewhere, in some other age, when a grown young woman kisses the forehead of a dog, a faint, vague memory of an unrecognizable face of an old man would pass through her mind. I hope she will smile at that fleeting shadow and hold her dog close to her.

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Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 17.09.2010

12 comments:

  1. I picked up some adjectives from my mobile phone’s English Explanatory (Not a Dictionary you see):
    Naïve, Romantic, Credulous …..
    The problem, I believe, with people like you is that you read a lot of books, books that leave you in your private hell.
    May I advise something? Just try to be like me. Don’t ever touch a book. You wouldn’t have wasted your time on that toddler. You would have instead chipped in with typical mallu banter in manglish and joined the jeans clad lady doctor and her family. What a waste of time! Come and join my world and enjoy the eternall bliss. You need not swim, you can just walk across….
    :)

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  3. @Ashok; And thanks for dropping by. Hope you had a great time in SA with your family!

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  4. I sensed right when you commented on my second picture of a dog that you like dogs a lot. I also noticed it on your blog - The Daily Puppy and My music.

    :-) I was right. This incident - you will cherish it for long time. I hope your effort pays. :-)

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  5. beautifully written. i could SEE the whole episode.

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  6. Balan, how touching. I can just see you trying to teach the little one about the goodness in dogs and puppies and there being no need to fear... A very delightful story... Very delightful and tender indeed.....

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  7. @Insignia: You got it right! Recently P pointed out to me some internet astrology; it said that Aquarians love their pets more than the family members! :D

    @kpj: Thanks!

    @Sandy: If only all the world learns to love and respect their fellow-creatures! This would have been a wonderful world to live in!

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  8. Honestly couldn't disagree with Ashok

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  9. My family in Chennai too was like the family you met, wary of all small animals, though we tolerated the street dogs who were fed by one of the houses in the locality. i don't remember how, but my dad let me yield to one pair of puppy eyes, i named her Kutty (meaning 'small', 'little' in Tamizh), but i was totally incompetent to take full responsibility .. she eventually escaped the collar and the leash, but stayed with her mom and siblings in the vicinity. Years later, i ended up life-partnering with a person through whom i have learnt ... well, a lot - enough to appreciate and applaud all animal-adorers.

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  10. Assalamu alaikum...
    Bohat khubsurat naat Yeh Kehti Thi Ghar Ghar Mein Ja Kar Haleema Naat 2019 pasand aye tou dosto ko bhi share karen... JAZAKALLAH

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