“She was a bitch.”
Arjun got that disdainful stare again. Followed by the folding of paws and the lowering of that very furry Labrador head. And those ears.
“I wish I could do that with my ears when my mom starts nagging. You’re lucky you can just flap them shut and make a point of it.”
The paws and the head and the ears all stayed there. Now those gorgeous brown eyes that were furiously staring at Arjun, also clamped shut.
“Dude! You aren’t gay right? You would have told that to me when we had our “Birds and Bees” talk last year. That makes her a bitch. Literally and Metaphorically. And a sadak chaap bitch at that if you ask me.”
At that, he got up, turned a 180 degrees and flopped down again. So Arjun was now talking to a very furry ass.
“Look dude. Class matters. Whatever these liberals say, believe me it does, for a long term relationship to work.
Your ancestors came from the west. The elite west. Hell, your market value is atleast a hundred times that of her, (sniggering) i.e. assuming she’s on the market even”
Arjun tried to fake a giggle as the unflinching ass stay put. He could see a faint raise of an eyebrow in the reflection in the mirror across. That was followed by a sad whimper and a further lowering of the head between the paws.
“Ok now! Enough Ansh. Just get up and eat alright? Adult men don’t sulk over the exit of a female lead from their lives. They rejoice at the prospect of a new entry. And you are an adult man..uhh…dog.”
Getting no reaction from the furry mass, Arjun got back to noisily taking vessels off the kitchen shelf and putting them in the box on the floor. The place was in shambles, and strewn with packed, half unpacked and empty cardboard boxes. Covered in dust, cobwebs hanging from every corner, traces of recently liberated mice, a lizard on the window sill across and crawling ants on the kitchen shelves. To add to this insane conundrum of shifting houses, changing cities, changing jobs, Arjun’s best and only real friend, his teenage Labrador, had been dumped out of a very serious relationship.
“Come on Ansh, Fetch!” Arjun threw Ansh’s favorite, macabrely chewed, greying yellow, smelly rubber ball to the balcony.
No reaction, except, perhaps, a further millimetric drooping of the ears, followed.
Arjun decided some hugging was called for. So he walked past the maze of boxes and gingerly sat down on the dusty dirty floor. He tickled Ansh behind the ears, patted his head, rubbed his back. But all he got was cold, unflinching silence.
“Come on bud, these things happen. Good thing is we’re leaving. Leaving this neighborhood, this city, even this God forsaken state.
“You know where we’re headed? We’re headed to the mountains up north. That place is like the canine heaven. Acres and acres of empty spaces, tonnes of fresh meat, fresh cold air, infinite walks, no cars, no signals……You might even catch a real rabbit…. You know?”
The word ‘rabbit’ got the opening of an eye-lid and slight turning of the drooping head. Hopeful, Arjun continued,
“Yes Ansh, rabbits and beautiful, well fed, curvy bitches. I’ve seen them you know. They’re a class apart. Well groomed, energetic, and their eyes…. Yes those eyes, they sparkle. They’re happy and hopping and strong. They even say that the dogs there have the genes of Alexander’s glorious beasts. Even the strays there are gorgeous. Not like the weak, skinny, needy things you see on these city streets.”
This elaborate description earned Arjun the opening of both eyes and the unflapping of the ears.
Arjun was turning out to be a decent dog counsellor, he thought to himself “Maybe, I could even open a clinic for depressed dogs. Would surely get to meet a lot of cute single dog moms.”
Arjun got up and moved to his room to fold the mattress. Ansh, head and ears drooping, actually, slowly got up, like he was carrying a huge weight and followed Arjun into the room.
“Yay” Arjun thought, “First victory.”
“You know Ansh, we can even go for our daily walk one last time and I’ll tell that bitch how totally cool and unaffected you are. I can tell her how Mrs. Rita’s cocker-spaniel had been batting her eye-lashes at you since she was ten and Dr. Narayan’s golden retriever, pawing you in the park whenever she got a chance and Mrs. Patel’s Pomeranian who has been catcalling you since she first saw you.”
That very sad pair of brown eyes developed a hint of a gleam. The furry back spruced up a bit and Ansh even pawed the opposite end of the mattress in an attempt to help Arjun fold it.
Arjun smiled and hi-fi ed Ansh once the mattress was in the box. He stared at the now trotting dog, picking up small objects with his teeth and dropping them in the open boxes.
“Spotty”, Arjun thought, “Spotty was the one who had broken this adorable happy canine heart. She was a year and half old stray who had survived five dead siblings and one absconding dad. She was very well behaved and well groomed for a stray. She matched Ansh in character and energy. Wish I could have adopted her. But one dog-one man was a good ratio for a reasonably clean house.”
Arjun had enjoyed Spotty and Ansh’s friendship. They would roll around in the mud, chase squirrels and pigeons, learnt the usual commands, scared away the demure lapdogs on their walks and in general had a great time. But alas, as strays often do, Spotty decided to befriend a fellow stray from the next street and Arjun and Ansh started seeing less and less of her, till today, she turned her back on them to join the fierce group next lane, in their faces.
As Arjun went into this flashback, he realized Ansh was scratching his precious teakwood bed post in an attempt to move it. Maybe he thought the bed was also to go into the box. Dogs!
“Here Ansh, lunch time. ”Arjun said, sprinting into the kitchen. Surprisingly, Ansh followed with a bounce in his step. Arjun filled Ansh’s bowl with dog treats, took out a cold half eaten pizza from the fridge and sat down beside the now puffing Ansh. Arjun took a piece of chicken off his pizza and held it out for Ansh. Ansh lapped it up, chewed it for a while and then gulped it down, with a faint hint of a smile and then unexpectedly placed his paws on Arjun’s shoulders and licked his crooked nose.
Arjun laughed, patting him and giving him a tight hug. As Arjun picked up a slice of pizza, Ansh stood there, tongue hanging out, completely ignoring his plate of dog treats and staring hungrily with melting brown eyes at the cold red piece of pizza.
“And we’re back! Pizza – the one and only sure shot solution to heart break, human and canine”, Arjun smiled.