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Monday, March 18, 2013

Gullu...The End of an era

For only a dog knows true unadulterated love, and shall never judge you whenever, however you return.

History will find it a tad bit difficult to remember Hector Narayanan for, if we were to pursue the matter objectively, there was little that the little spaniel did to alter the former’s course. Contrary to Homer’s illustrious character, this fellow displayed not the tiniest shred of valour. On most days, he preferred scratching his hinds over fighting wars. On all days, he was scared of balloons and crackers and all things that were not of edible format. If dogs were employed just like humans, he would most surely be a Church priest, his countenance reflecting  age, wisdom and a subtle primness in manner.

 The only rare violent streak in his otherwise benign soul was witnessed whenever Hector was finding a spot to settle down on and found a pillow in his way. In such cases, he would change in manner from a Vatican Pope to a Viking warrior, sitting atop the bemused pillow and massacring it with paws and nails for no rhyme or reason.

It is little surprise then that at this thoroughly non flattering reputation earned him the nickname Gullu. It stuck on almost immediately and henceforth in this article, that’s how he shall be referred to, much like in life.

Literature too, especially of the British kind, would shake its head ruefully at Gullu. For when you read these books with dogs as characters, these books by Blyton and Co, they always spoke of a loyal animal that was forever ready to go on long walks. It beats me why they would not talk of the same loyal animal wanting to squirt every single bush on the way, or what to do when the pooch decided to wet a car when its owner was glaring at you from his house. Instead, they spoke of an attentive, intelligent animal that would know when you were upset and comfort you by licking your face or pressing his furry self into your body. I tried that when I was a kid, pulling Gullu close after being particularly upset after a quarrel with the pater. In the kitchen, mum was cooking chicken and as it happens, the only organ that twitched in that dratted mutt’s being was his nose, not his heart, and with one leap and two bounds he had journeyed the physical distance that separated my sobbing chest and mum’s ankles. Enid Blyton, you and I need to have a separate chat.

The folks of Noida will not remember him much, for it has been six years since the Narayanans moved to Kerala, but if there are any folks in that northern city with a fantastic memory, they would laughingly say, and I quote, “Yes yes, we do remember that Honda City going round Noida every night and that spaniel looking out of the window, the wind blowing his long ears back. Gullu, you call him? Who calls their dog Gullu?”

Kerala shall remember him fondly though. The cats in his street would laugh at him, for despite all their advances, he failed miserably in catching them. The one rare occasion when he did corner a poor kitten, he remembered that the script had not informed him of this sudden change of events, of what to do when you did finally manage to corner a cat. So he stood his ground, bemused and gentle, until poor kitten decided to play Xena Warrior Princess and scratched his nose and walked off proudly.

But lets not just make fun of the boy, and instead let us tell some tales of his studness too, such as the one when he stood on a bunch of rocks and looked on as his family swam in the river beneath Athirappilly Falls. Upset and frustrated at the distance and the water that separated his family from him, he kept pacing up and down on the rocks at the banks. Never having swum before, and having an intense dislike for water, he was at a loss at what to do.

But that’s the thing about love, it does not see rationale. It makes you want to take that leap, to conquer fear and the world, and be right next to your loved ones. And so Gullu jumped, for the first time into a river, not knowing if he could swim, sure only of the fact that he could not stay away from the rest of us.

Moments later, he was paddling in the current, and the Narayanans screamed in joyous celebration, some calling him a stud, some likening him to Michael Phelps, some rushing to hug him. The fish in the water just rolled their eyes.  ‘Swimming, a big deal, really’ they asked each other in sarcastic tones, between pauses.

Gullu passed away three days back, on March 15. He had been sick for the past two years, but even in his last moments, just like his life and illness, he rode it with grace and peace. He was buried under the pomegranate tree in our garden, and it shall bear fruit in the summer. He was buried there with his chew sticks and toys and a banana bread that amma had made for him a day earlier.

 Those who know us will remember him for being all important to us, for being more important than any of us. Those who love dogs and have had dogs will know why it was so.

And we? Well, we shall miss the fellow. The baby. The idiot. We shall miss that face near the drawing room window, a face that would furiously stare back at us from amid the curtains as we came back from the market. Furious, for in fourteen years, he could never really believe or accept that we could leave him alone even for fifteen minutes or an hour. We shall miss that body that heaved with love and anger and temper and fire and that would collide against us the moment we opened that house door.

We shall miss our playful fights, about whom he loved the most. We shall miss laughing at his embarrassed face when we caught him stealing food. We shall miss that happy, now-i-am-ready-to-sleep feeling in the night when he would eventually stop moving and settle at our feet. Eventually, he would make his way into the blanket and would settle his smelly fat self right on our stomachs.  We shall miss that feeling of content when he did so. We shall miss hugging him close.

We shall miss the sound of your feet pitter pattering everywhere, Gullu.  The house smells of you, you smelly mutt, and there shall never be a corner that doesn’t breathe of you. To put it most honestly, we shall miss you.

Gullu, you taught us love. For the entire fourteen years, every day, every moment,  we remained as  fascinated by you as when you first came into the house, and we could never ever stop exclaiming, cooing, wondering, laughing about your antics, your behavior, your mere presence. Even on your last day, you were a baby to us, and you shall always remain so.

It will be futile and never ending if I have to talk of all your stories. And it shall pull at more strings in my heart than I wish.

So let us not be sad or whine. And instead try to celebrate the life of a dog that will go down unceremoniously in history as the only mutt in the world that was scratched and embarrassed by a kitten one third his size.

Till we meet again bro, here’s a toast to you – ‘May you always chase cats and kittens and when you corner them, may you hold back, for it is better to be made fun of later than to hurt a creature’.

Attaboy, Gullu, you really did live upto the name we kept for you. Homer would be proud of you.