Mom, I am full. I can’t eat this!!” said my son, sheepishly who was already feeling full after eating half of the chicken biryani served for dinner. I looked at him in disapproval. I don’t like it when someone doesn’t finish off the food from their plates. I generally like to give leftover chicken pieces to the stray dogs in my area. I went down to the familiar hangout of the strays in my area. I placed the leftover biryani which had chunks of chicken pieces in it. As I was watching them, there were a few dogs who were sleeping peacefully. Their bellies full and moving up and down in a rhythmic motion.

I stood there watching them and  smile crept up on my lips. I went into a flashback. Yeah, just like in the movies. I went back to a particular incident when I was in kindergarten. I remember that day clearly because the scar of that day is etched forever on my right leg.

In those days, the town that I stayed in was not that developed in terms of schools and colleges. So, my parents sent me to stay with my aunt where they had the basic facilities like schools, post offices etc. It was my summer vacation and on one such day in the summer, my aunt wanted to go to the post office in the afternoon. She could not leave me home as my uncle had gone to work and my cousins had gone to their own native places. So she had to take me along with her to the post office in the sweltering heat of the afternoon. We reached the post office. There was a long queue and there was only a single fan which could only serve a few people standing below it, and I could barely avail any comfort from that. The line moved very slowly. In the meanwhile, to pass time my aunt started chatting with other people in the queue. Those days people were friendly and helpful. So, after a bit of chit-chatting, my aunt realized that she needed to enquire about something which meant she had to step away from the queue and go to the other end of the post office to speak to the clerk there. So, she perched me on the bench which was at a good height for a 7year old to climb down. This was to ensure that I stay in one place and not move away from there.

I sat there quietly and glanced around. My sight fell on the dog sleeping beneath the bench. I observed that a blob (which was actually his stomach) was moving inside him up and down in a rhythmic motion. I have never before observed someone sleeping let alone an animal. I wanted to watch it closely, so I jumped down from the bench (unbeknownst to my aunt) and bent down to look closely at his stomach. I was about to touch its belly with my index finger when one uncle from the queue saw that and stopped me from touching it. I did stop but the rebel I was, got annoyed at his instruction. But did not touch it with my finger. My fascination for this moving lump kept growing as I stood there watching it move up and down. I knew I should not touch it with my finger. I was not in a mood to get another instruction from some random uncle or aunty. So I decided to use my foot and gave one large poke with my right leg. Next thing, I know people were trying to pull me from one end in an attempt to disengage my leg from the dog’s fangs and I was wailing in pain. The other half was trying to distract the dog so he would leave my leg.

After hearing the commotion, my aunt came over hurriedly to check only to be horrified that it’s me who was in trouble. She literally had a facepalm moment. I could make out from her expression in all that crying and wailing. My leg was in the midst of a tug-of-war where people on the other end kept pulling my leg with the hope that the dog will leave my leg in one piece. Finally, with several attempts the dog let go of my leg and ran away. The next fifteen days were trips to the hospital for injections in the belly!!! Yes, you read it right. Those days, the treatment for animal bites included fifteen or thirteen injections in the belly depending on your age and severity of bite.         

A peacefully sleeping dog brings back the memory of that day and I end up laughing to myself. I was a troublemaker but a silent one. We all have some or the other funny and goofy incidents in our childhood which we revisit from time to time. I have loads of them, but this one happens to be my favourite one. Which one is yours?

Ms. Vrishali Kanade

Owner of Shopper’s Nook,

Mumbai

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