Monday, February 27, 2017

A Dog’s Life Story

Fiction Short Story

This morning – during my morning walk – I saw and talked to some of my dog “friends” – and – I remembered this story I had written long ago. 

So  let me delve into my Creative Writing Archives and pull out this story for you to read.

It is one of my poignant dog stories 

I wrote this story more than 11 years ago  in the year 2006  at the height of the real estate boom in Pune. 

Do tell me if you like this story...

A DOG’S LIFE STORY By Vikram Karve

Part 1 – TENSION

There is tension brewing in my house.

My brother, my sister, even my mother  all are trying to convince my father to sell off our lovely spacious bungalow with a huge compound surrounded by plenty of greenery on the banks the Mula river near Aundh on the outskirts of Pune.

But my father won’t budge.

I sprawl in the verandah and listen to their conversation.

“Please try to understand, Papa...” my brother pleads, “we can’t stay in this dilapidated place forever. The builder is giving us a fantastic deal – a luxurious 4 BHK premium penthouse flat – and that too near Deccan Gymkhana – plus whatever money you want in exchange for this godforsaken place.”

“Godforsaken place? How dare you say that? I have built this house with my sweat and blood. I like it here  and I am going to live here till my dying day!” my father affirms, “If you want to go  you all can go wherever you like. I am not going anywhere  I am staying here.”

“Please, Papa!” my sister implores, “Deccan Gymkhana! Just imagine living in Deccan Gymkhana! It’s such a posh locality – and so near my college and all the happening places.”

“It will be better for you too,” my mother says, “I have seen the place. Luxurious fully furnished flats in a brand new posh building  right opposite Kamala Nehru Park. It is so near your library  and your club  and you can walk and sit in the beautiful park. You will love it there.”

“Meena!” my father says angrily to my mother, “You have already gone and seen it – without even telling me!”

“Sanjay took me there in the morning,” my mother says sheepishly.

“Over my dead body!” my father shouts furiously.

He gets up from his chair. 

My father looks at me, and he says, “I’m going for a walk. Come Moti – Chain, Chain!”

I jump in delight at the prospect of this unexpected extra outing – and I rush to get my chain from its place under the staircase. 

I bring the chain in my mouth – actually it’s not a metallic chain  but a leather leash – and I hold it in front of my father who ties it to my collar.

Then he picks up his walking stick  and off we go for nice long walk on the jungle path skirting the banks of the Mula river. 

My father becomes playful and sings to me, “Come, come, come, Moti come!” – and I teasingly grab the lead in my mouth  wag my tail  and spring up and down  and my father says, Drop it! Drop it!” – and I let go off the lead and bounce along.

I love these bubbly walks with my father  there is so much to see  so much to play  so much to sniff – and soon my father will let me off the leash and play chase-chase with me on the sandy ground near the river.

“I don’t know why my father is so stubborn, so adamant,” my brother says to the real estate agent next morning as they talk on the lawn in front of our beloved bungalow, “I think he has gone senile!”

“He’s not gone senile at all,” the wily agent says, “in fact I think your father is a shrewd bargainer.”

“Shrewd bargainer?”

“Had you sold this bungalow last year you wouldn’t have got even half the price you are getting now. Real estate has suddenly skyrocketed  and yours is the only plot left in this entire place – that’s why they are offering you so much. The developer has managed to acquire everything around here – even that finicky old lady’s place. He’s given her a flat in Mumbai and enough money to live her remaining life in luxury. Once he gets your bungalow he can start his project. That’s why he’s offering you so much – the maximum – it’s a fantastic offer – a deluxe exclusive penthouse apartment in the posh elite Deccan Gymkhana locality  plus a hefty sum of money. I am telling you now for the last time – you better make the deal fast  otherwise they will somehow manage to get hold of your place by hook or crook.”

“Hook or crook...?”

“The developer – he’s a big guy – he’s got connections right till the top. Big money is involved. They can even get the DP altered.”


“Yes, DP – it means Development Plan. They’re so desperate to start the project that they’ll get the DP changed and get your land acquired for their project. Then you’ll get a pittance and regret all your life. Better strike while the iron is hot.”

“We will try and convince our father,” my brother says, and then asks the agent, “What’s coming up in this desolate place anyway?”

“It’s a huge 5-star project – IT Park, BPOs, Hotels, Malls, Multiplexes… This whole place is going to be transformed into something so magnificent and futuristic you can’t even imagine – you better make your father see reason, otherwise you’ll be just swept away by the winds of change. Even if you manage to stick on your lone bungalow will be dwarfed between high rise commercial structures all around and it will be difficult to live here.”

The real estate agent pauses – then he puts his arm around my brother’s shoulder and says, “Talk to your father, your mother – convince them. If they don’t like Deccan, they can choose an apartment from any of our projects – Kondhwa, Kalyani Nagar, Baner, Wakad, Aundh, Kothrud – wherever you want – but I am telling you there is nothing to beat the Deccan Gymkhana area – it is impossible to get a place there now-a-days, so just go for the deal.” 

Sitting quietly  unnoticed by anyone  I hear every word carefully and I feel confused, apprehensive and frightened by all this  but I know my father will not succumb. 

And my chest swells with pride as I know the reason why!

At night, curled up on my mat under my father’s and mother’s double-bed  I attentively listen to my mother nagging my father as they lie down to sleep.

My mother says to my father, “Please Shankar. Don’t be so obstinate. Try to understand – at least for the children’s sake.”

“What about Moti?” my father asks.


“Yes, Moti. Tell me Meena – have you thought about Moti? She can’t live cooped up in a multi-storey flat – she need all this ground and space – there Moti will suffocate,” my father says matter-of-factly.

“What?” my mother suddenly shouts, “I cannot believe this! You are more bothered about that bloody pie-dog than your own children!”

“Pie-dog? How dare you? Moti is not a pie-dog  she is my daughter!” my father says emphatically.

“Daughter? Have you gone mad Shankar? The comfort of that wretched mongrel is more important to you than the future of your own children, your own blood!”

“Listen Meena,” my father says, “The children will grow up and go way, but Moti will remain with us forever.”

My heart swells with affection and tears of happiness well up in my eyes.

Words cannot describe the immense love, adoration and warmth I feel for my father.

Part 2 – MY LIFE

My name is Moti. 

In Marathi  Moti means Pearl  and generally it is a boy’s name.

But – despite me being a girl  my father named me Moti  and I like it. 

I was born in the garbage dump down the street. 

My ‘birth-mother’ was the local street dog  and she died a few days after giving birth to me and my six brothers and sisters. 

My ‘dog-father’ is unknown.

We all lay wallowing in the rubbish  and one day they suddenly came to collect the garbage  and they took away all my brothers and sisters in the garbage truck.

But somehow  they left me behind  and I lay helpless and frightened  wondering what was going to be my destiny  when suddenly  I found a tough-looking bearded man staring at me.

Shivering with fear  I looked back at him in terror as he extended his hands towards me.

But the moment he held me in his large cozy hands and caressed me lovingly  and put his finger tenderly in my mouth  I felt snug, warm, loved, safe and secure.

This was my new father  and he had already decided my name – Moti – the name of his canine ‘son’ who had passed away a few days ago.

“She was destined to come here,” my father said feeding me warm milk when everyone asked him why he had brought such an ugly, weak and sickly pie-dog home.

He made a nice warm bed for me in a basket  and he put it below his own bed. 

And as I drifted into sleep  my father gently fondled me with his hands.

I felt so wonderful, safe, comfortable and happy for the first time in my life.

As I grew up  everyone started liking me  my mother who I follow all around the house  my brother who is a Software Engineer  my sister who studies in Fergusson College  and, of course  my father  who always adored me. 

I am sure my father loves me even more than his human children.

I love my family  I love my house  and I love the wonderful life I live.

I wake up early in the morning  get off my cozy mat under my father’s bed – and I rub my cold wet nose against his hand – and I give him a lick.

My father grunts and growls and opens his sleepy eyes  and the moment he sees me  his face lights up  and he lovingly caresses me and says, “Good Morning, Moti.”

He gets up from bed and opens the main door to let me jump out into the garden  do my ‘little job’ at my favorite place near the mango tree  generally dig in the soft morning mud a bit – and sniff around to find out if there are any new morning smells  not forgetting to run and welcome the milkman  the moment he comes on his cycle.  

When I return  I find that my father is back in his bed  and my mother is up and about.

She pats and cuddles me and goes about her business making tea in the kitchen  while I loiter around the house.

My mother surreptitiously sneaks to the bedroom  and she slyly hands over a tidbit to my half-asleep father under the blanket  when she thinks that I am not looking.

I pretend not to notice  as I do not want to spoil their fun. 

Earlier  when I was small and impatient  I used to snuffle out the tidbit from my father’s hand  but this spoilt his fun  and he became grumpy.

Now that I am a mature young girl well experienced in the ways of the human world  I have realized that it is better for us dogs to act dumb  and let these humans think they are smarter than us.

So I go outside  sit down  and put on a look of anticipation towards the gate  and pretend not to notice my mother hiding and peeping through the corner of the window and giggling to herself.

The moment the newspaperman comes on his cycle and shouts ‘paper’  I rush to the gate and fetch the newspaper in my mouth  gripping it just right between my teeth – and I come running back and hold the newspaper up to my horizontal father lying in bed.

He gets up  takes the paper from me  and gives me the dog-biscuit he’s been hiding in his hand  as my mother  who has rushed behind me  watches me with loving pride in her eyes.

My brother and my sister  who till now were fast asleep in the other room  call out my name  and as I dart between their beds wagging my tail  they both hug and cuddle me all over – and say: “Good Morning, Moti. Moti is a good girl!”   

Everyone is cheerful and happy and my day is made!

Soon my father will be up and about  and he will call me for playing the “bone-game” – but before that let me tell you about my home.

In front of our roomy bungalow there is a huge garden  or rather an orchard  with all types of trees and bushes  and a lush green lawn on which I love to frolic, prance and roll upside down  and lots of flower beds which I love digging up to my mother’s horror.

I love digging up the mud – it’s so tasty – and there is plenty of it in the spacious kitchen garden behind the house where I create havoc digging up to my heart’s content  and the only thing I have spared are the tomatoes and some horrible tasting leaves called Alu, in Marathi, because they itch. 

When I want to go out  I tap the front door with my paws and they let me out.

And when I want to come in  I peep through the windows and  if no one notices I bang the door from the outside  or I make entreating imploring sounds.

And my father taught me ‘human talk’ and some words  and soon I began to ‘speak’ to him – well  we have a vocabulary of our own.

Of course  our communication styles are different.

He uses words and speaks in human language  while I rely on varied sounds like whines and howls and groans and non-verbal antics like nudging, pawing, begging, tugging, licking  and when I want his attention desperately  giving him a shake-hand.

I am lucky.

My parents don’t tie me up  but leave me free to roam and play around as I please. 

And there is so much to explore and investigate  in the nooks and corners of our verdant garden  which has plenty of trees, bushes and hedges.

There is so much to sniff  so much to dig  and so much to chase  squirrels and mongooses  and birds and butterflies.

The cats have disappeared though  ever since the day I almost caught one.

My father has warned me not to leave the compound  but sometimes I can’t resist the temptation  and I slither under a gap I have discovered under the fence  and I go out to explore the street outside  but take care to quickly return unnoticed.

The only few days he totally restricts my freedom is when I have my chums. He becomes very overprotective, and guards me like a shadow, never taking me off the leash when we go outdoors.

Once  during my chums  I managed to slip away across the fence  and all hell broke loose  and I was located  chased  captured  and  for the first time in my life  I was terribly scolded by my father who was really furious. 

I felt miserable  and I sulked  but then my father caressed and baby-talked me  and I knew how much he loved and cared for me  and it was all okay.

And during those sensitive days he specially pampers me and takes me for long leisurely walks  on a tight leash  keeping an eagle eye  and a stick ready in his hand for those desperate rowdy rascal mongrels  who suddenly appear from nowhere  and frantically hang around and try to follow me  their tongues drooling – as they look at me in a lewd restless manner.

Once they even had the gumption to sneak into the compound at night  and beseechingly whine outside  till my father chased them away. 

When I was small  and my gums itched  and my milk teeth began to break through  I could not resist chewing up anything I could lay my teeth upon – like shoes, slippers, clothes, toothbrushes, furniture. 

I especially loved chewing up my father’s favourite Kolhapuri ‘Kapshi’ chappals which were so silky-soft and yummy.

So my father bought me a chewy bone which  it said on the wrapper  was guaranteed to save everything else.

I don’t know why  but I secretly buried the bone in a hole I dug below the Mango tree  and I used to dig it out when I thought no one was looking  chew it a bit  and then bury it in some other secret place. 

One day my inquisitive mother found out  and she dug up the bone when I was sleeping  and hid in under the pomegranate tree. 

When I didnt find the bone  at first  I was confused.

Then  I tracked the bone down with my nose  and when I spied my mother giggling and grinning like a Cheshire cat  I knew who the culprit was.

This started the “Bone-Game”.

First they (the humans – my mother and father) would give me the bone  and after I hid it they would rush out into the garden and dig it out – then they would hide the bone (after locking me in the house so I could not see)  and then make me find the bone  which I did using my nose. 

I wondered how they found the bone so fast  till one day I caught them spying crouching behind the hedge when they thought I wasnt looking  and the mystery was solved.

So now I first let them see where I am hiding the bone  and when they complacently and confidently go inside thinking they know everything  I dig out the bone and hide it some other place which they do not know  and then I watch the fun  as they search for the bone in vain.

Then when they go inside and my father asks me to get the bone  I run out and get it  for which I earn a tidbit.

The way these humans act sometimes  I really wonder who is more intelligent – my parents or me...?

Part 3 – DOG DAYS 

One day my brother  my sister  and even my mother  they all gang up on my poor hapless father  apply all kinds of pressure – emotional blackmail  threats  cajoling – and soon he wilts  his defenses broken down – and it is not long before we leave our beloved bungalow  and we move  lock stock and barrel  to the ‘luxurious’ flat in Deccan Gymkhana.

And with the huge sum of money the builder has given him  my father has suddenly transformed overnight from a simple frugal pensioner to a rich prosperous millionaire  a crorepati...  

For me, life turns horrible - my new life is worse than hell...

The marble floors are so hard – so smooth and slippery  that my nails break  and my paws get sore.

The fancy ‘luxurious’ fittings are so fragile  and the decorative adornments are so delicate  that my mother is always on the edge when I prance around  scolding me  and ordering me to sit down quietly.

There is no earth to dig  no bushes and trees to smell  no grass for a carefree loll  and  worst of all – there are no cats and rats  mongooses and squirrels  and birds  for me to chase.

The society over here is so elitist  that even their so-called “high breed” dogs are snobbish  and all these snooty dogs sneer at me – and they loudly speculate about my pedigree. 

I can’t even pee where I please after sniffing around and selecting a bush, or a tree  as in the good old days.

Here  in the luxurious flat  there is a stipulated sand-pit in the corner of the terrace earmarked for my ablutions  my big job and my small job.

They don’t allow me in the lift  so my poor old father has to walk me down 10 floors  and then walk up 10 floors again after our daily walk.

Even that  I don’t enjoy any more.
The streets outside are so crowded that we have to squeeze ourselves in the dense crowd  and the hustle bustle  and the din of chaotic traffic drives me and my father crazy.
My father tried to take me to play in the verdant Kamala Nehru Park near our house.

But one day – we were rudely stopped at the entrance of the park by a securityman  who showed my father the sign painted in red:


And so – that was the end of my playing in the park with my father – and now – he has to take me for a walk in the building parking lot below since the roads are too crowded. 

In short  my life is hell ever since we came here to this flat in Deccan Gymkhana.

My father too has a guilty conscience.

He tries to make up by being more and more affectionate towards me  and I too feel sorry for him  so I snuggle up to him whenever I can  and I tell him it’s okay  and I am happy.

My loving father and I have become closer to each other than ever before and we endure our misery together in silence – while the rest of my family  celebrating their newly-found affluence  are becoming more and more distant.

One evening – while huffing and puffing up the stairs  my father suddenly cries out my name: “Moti...Moti...Moti...!!!”

And then my father drops my leash – he clutches his heart – and he collapses in a heap.

I bark and bark desperately  but no one comes for quite some time.

And then  suddenly they all appear.

They carry my father to the lift  and take him away. 

I follow them to the gate  and I watch them put my father in a car. 

I want to go with my father – so I rush towards the car – but they shoo me away.

Everyday I eagerly wait for my father to come back.

I wait and wait  but my father never comes back.

Yes  my father never comes back. 

They all say he is dead  and I never see my father again.

Things change after my father’s death.

My brother gets married.

His newly wedded wife hates dogs  so they tie me up in a dirty corner of the terrace for the whole day.

For the first time in my life I realize that I  Moti  once the apple of their eyes  have now become a terrible burden.

Days pass.

A baby is born – a boy.

And I am further banished from the house  lest the delicate baby get allergic. 

One day  the baby crawls towards me.

I wag my tail – welcoming my adorable little nephew.

The baby catches my tail – and he pulls my tail with his full weight and tries to stand up.

The pain is terrible  but I grit my teeth  and I stoically suffer the excruciating agony.

The baby innocently pulls my tail even harder  and now, unable to bear the terrible excruciating pain  I squeal – I howl  and I yelp in unimaginable agony  I am desperately crying for help.

My brother’s wife comes running out and starts shouting, “The dog  the dog  The dog is killing my baby!”

And my mother comes out  and she runs towards me.

The baby releases my tail.

I try to lovingly lick the baby.

But my mother takes the baby away.

Then my mother comes back – and she glares at me  while I look at her trying to convince her of my innocence.

Tell me  how can I ever think of even slightly harming my little baby nephew who I love so much?

But it’s of no use.

Everyone thinks that I have harmed the baby. 

In the evening  my brother comes home  and he and his wife have a heated argument about me. 

“Either I stay in this house  or the dog stays...” she warns my brother threateningly, “I can’t leave my baby with this dangerous dog. If the dog stays  I’ll go to my mother’s place. You make your choice.”

Later  in the evening  after taking me for my customary walk  my brother stops by at the vet doctor’s clinic – and I overhear snippets of their conversation:

“...dangerous dog ...attacked baby... unprovoked aggressive behaviour… put to sleep…”

“put to sleep”...

Alarm Bells ring in my mind.

Are they are planning to kill me...?

As I see the face of death  a terrible fear drills into my insides.

Totally terrified and alarmed  I tug violently with all my strength – and I break the hook holding the collar to the leash and run for my dear life.

My brother chases me.

So I turn swiftly into an alley.

I see a garbage dump  and I quickly jump inside the rubbish dump and hide myself in the filth.

No one comes for some time.

Wallowing miserably in the filth  I smile to myself at the irony of it all.

I was “Born in a Rubbish Dump

Now it looks like I am destined to “Die in a Rubbish Dump

A Tragedy  isnt it...?

Well thats my story  a Dogs Life Story.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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