Our Family - The Four Legged Kind (2) Part 2 of Memoires by Madhu Kamath

Madhu Kamath, 4 January 2014

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In 1993 we moved from Delhi to Hyderabad, leaving Bukul there to complete her graduation.

Meghu got admission here in class X. One day as I entered the garage to switch on the motor to boost water, I saw four kittens quickly scurry under the wooden boxes stacked there. And then I saw the mother! She spat at me to keep her babies safe from me. We had no idea this family of five had been in our garage. Gradually, they started coming out and befriended us, treating the whole house as their own.

A few days later another cat (we named her Mausi) coolly stepped inside our garden and she her two kittens also made our house their home. And then came Chutki, all by herself, spending long hours on the swing we had in the verandah. We had names for all of them but after all these years, we remember only wink-eye and Satan; the first because it always seemed to be winking and the latter because we changed its name from Satin to Satan when we realised it was a male. Surprisingly , one by one, all of them disappeared in the next few weeks. It was as if they had a premonition of what/who was to come!

buki, Dhondu, DopeyBukul used to come home during vacations and one such visit, just a few days after the last of the cats disappeared, we were about to go out in the evening, when she saw a black rag near the main door. As she bent to pick it up, she jumped up with a shriek. It was a new born pup, black and brown. Tiny, barely able to move and bleeding from the rectum. Where had it come from?

Thankfully we knew of a vet in the neighbourhood and rushed to him with the pup. He treated him and refused to charge us for the treatment. The pup was soon out and about, prancing, chewing socks, shoe laces and eating well. Needless to say, we could not have left him out on the road.

We had to keep on telling him, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” With all the don’t do’s in the air, we ended up naming him Dhondu. He grew up to be a handsome, loving, much loved family member. The most endearing thing about him was putting his chin on our knee when he wanted what we were eating, imploring!

One evening when Meghu had taken Dhondu for a walk, she heard a whining sound coming from some bushes. On closer look, she found a tiny brown pup probably trying to feel the presence of its mother but not being able to find it. We brought it home and gave it milk with a dropper. Its eyes hadn’t opened and it looked doped. The vet confirmed it was a female and named it Dopey. Like Dhondu, Dopey also stayed. He was five and she, may be ten days old.

Meghu, MunchyBabli was our colony dog. Apart from us, two other families used to feed it. It was amazing how, whenever she had a litter, it used to be raining. Thus for every litter she produced, our garage came in handy. After the 5th or the 6th (not sure!) we got her sterilized.

In the last litter, Babli had three male pups. Meghu named them Pumpkin, Munchkin and Coffee. They too would have ventured out with their mother but father dear had a wish! He wished to keep the white one, Munchkin, for himself. His reasoning - “Bukie has Dhondu, Meghu has Dopey, what about me?” Amusing! A fifty two year old sounding like a kid.

To let you in on a touching family trait … it all started with the time when father dear himself was a young child. His mother was no less an animal lover. They had a dog and a cat, both got along well and were looked after by them. Tiki and Tik-Tik sure had loving hands and hearts to care for them. So, you see! It runs in the family.

And thus Munchy stayed. Babli had free access to our house to come and play with him. We gave away the other two compassionate families after Babli stopped nursing them.

Now Dopey did not trust anyone. Not even us. God knows what trauma she must have endured when she was alone in the bushes. The day after we found her, we took her to each and every house in the neighbourhood to look for her mother and her siblings, if any, but in vain. Still, we all existed under the same roof, in a some what peaceful co-existence, wary of her snapping at anyone who came close to her.

Dhondu left us when he was 11, afflicted by age related ailments. Although Dopey growled at anyone who even touched her by chance, she had a way of saying sorry by lowering her head and raising her paw. She lived to be 13.

End of Part 2

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Articles & stories by Madhu Kamath - Index of writings on Kalpana