At 15, I hated dogs with a violent passion.
I had an instant dislike for this family who shifted recently opposite to our apartment, as they had a pet dog. My mom asked me to befriend the neighbour's kid in his late teens. I somehow had this impression that dog owners contract lice from its fur. So I altogether avoided him.
This dog barked all night disturbing my studies and sleep. It was tied near the staircase and everyone who passed that way, were at its mercy. All it used to do was bark and bark... and well for the rest of the time, it would nibble my shoes left in the veranda or chew my clothes left for drying on the terrace. In short, my new neighbours and their dog hampered my peace.
One evening I searched a lot for my missing palm sized teddy which I left in the verandah. I was pretty sure that the dog nibbled it away. 'That's the hell it!', I thought and marched straight to my neighbour's and banged on their doors. The boy opened the door.
He looked cute. I wasn't sure if he had lice or not, but I stood very far from him anyway. I told him how I hated his pesky dog. I accused it of nibbling my teddy.
"Lost teddy?", he asked.
" Yeah. It's my favourite."
" Umm....did you look inside the washing machine?"
" What?....Well, no".
" It might be taking a bath in that", he said as-a-matter-of-factly.
Inspite of my consuming temper, I found his words sweet and funny
I went to my mom and asked her about the teddy. To my surprise, she did put it inside the washing machine as its dirty fur needed a wash. I went back to the boy and apologised.
"Apologies accepted. You don't like Tini?"
" I hate all dogs. They have lots of lice on them"
" Hey, not Tini. Come inside"
"Okay. But keep that canine creature far from me"
We played PSP, and listened to punk rock. He taught me a good deal about computer and photo shopping. I had a great time with him.
I was deeply involved in a bike racing game, when I felt something tickling my feet. I looked down to see Tini licking me with its lolling tongue. Instinctively I kicked it off. It rammed the sofa and banged its head against it.
We both ran near it out of concern. I was relieved that nothing happened to it and the next second the hyper active pup started jumping again and licked me all over.
"It likes you"
I touched its head over where it hit the sofa. Its fur was so smooth and silky. No lice. I loved the way the fur brushed and felt against my hand. I took the pup into my arms and started stroking it. I happened to actually love Tini !
Vikram, me and Tini became great buddies. I enjoyed their company and hung around in their home often. We three went to evening walks on the grassy lane in the park everyday without fail
Some months later Vikram got busy preparing for entrance exams. He didn't have the time for me. I missed him so much and out of sadness and anger I started a petty argument with him which turned out into a big quarrel and we stopped talking for a week. The next day I was disheartened to know that our family decided to leave Bangalore and go to a new place in few days.
I didn't conclude my cold war and was not on talking terms with him even on the last day. I didn't allow him to say a proper good-bye to me. While we were about to head to the station, he came down and tried to gift me a Teddy bear. I refused to take it out of ego. When the car was about to leave, he said he was sorry and hurled the teddy inside the window. I looked the other way.The car finally left the gate and it was then that I thought beyond my silliness and the final realisation that I can see him no more dawned on me. But it was too far too late then to make amends. I left behind so much.
I didn't call him all these three years. He is so faraway from me. Hearing his voice would make my heart ache and miss him even more.
And whenever my teddy goes missing, the first place I head to for searching, is the washing machine.
Today I'm with Tini walking the same grassy lane in the park we used to stroll along for evening walks.
I'm in B'lore now after so many years on a college industrial visit. Since that I'm here I thought I might as well say hi to Vikram and Tini. I knocked his door expectantly but I was told that he's not here anymore. He's studying B.tech in Pune staying in a hostel. His parents went to US. Poor Tini was left in the nearby Dog care Pen. I went to the Pen. As soon as it saw me, it recognized me and started nibbling my shoes. I paid Rs.900 and adopted it.
Tini missed its masters. It has lost sheen on the fur due to lack of proper care.It has lots of lice now. But that doesn't matter to me anymore.
As tini trots along the lane nibbling the grass, I get reminded of those happy times and I feel a crushing pain. I hated all dogs before. Due to Vikram I now know how friendly, and adorable these things can be. I don't know where exactly Vikram is now. I'm not sure if I'll meet him again. But I do have the reminder of the good times we shared in the form of Tini. I am going to take good care of it. Mom might be against the whole idea of pets, but I'll convince her. And did I tell you that I now love dogs passionately? Agreed they have lice and all , but such things can be overlooked, right?