I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
– Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)
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My life has always been full of animals. No, I am in no way referring to Rekha, my wife. I agree man is an animal (a few believe that even women are animals). But, I am in no way referring to my wife here.
Guess I should start with the first – a frog. Not exactly an animal, but a frog was the first non-human I interacted with. I think I was four years old and we used to live in Punjab, where it was fashionable to sleep out in the open, under the skies. Now, if you sleep in the open…you have had it from the terrorists…but back then…it was a lot safer. Except of course, for all those frogs that surround your cot.
One of my elder cousins had told me this story of a frog turning into a prince when a pretty girl kissed it. I tried kissing the frog, but only got a wart on my lower lip. Thanks to my mother who always tied my hair in a ponytail, for long I had thought I was a princess.
My next meeting was with the alley cat. This one was a lot smarter than the Tom Cat today`s youngsters watch on TV.
I have always liked eating the malai that forms on top of the boiled milk. Just that this cat in question also liked it. I think I was six years old then…and everyday became a question of survival. As soon as my mother left the kitchen, I had to rush into the kitchen to grab the malai, else the cat would do it. Either ways, I would get blamed. Our competition grew so fierce, that soon enough we were in the kitchen when my mother started boiling the milk. Eventually I won, because I learnt the art of faking pretty early. I grabbed the malai, spilt rest of the milk and shouted…Cat! Cat! My mom, chased the felon away…and the kitchen has been mine ever since. Marriage has changed nothing.
Next came the bear. If you are a regular reader of my Blog, you probably remember my father jumping into the bear-pit to give me a sedative…so that I don`t wake up the sleeping bears. To this day, I don`t understand why my father did not pick me up and walk out of the bear pit. Think I was just eight years old…and had fallen into the bear pit in Kholapur, Maharashtra.
As for horses, I remember meeting the first one when on a school excursion. My school Principal at the Kendriya Vidhyalaya, Ballygunge, Kolkata was a great gambler. At least that is what I think. He wanted to inculcate in us the good habit of gambling at an early age and took us to the Race Course, on a race day. Here we are not talking of the race days that Narain Karthikeyan – that`s called Formula One. We were all nine year olds and thankfully, we did not wage bets. We hadn`t taken enough money with us.
It was not until I was ten years old that we had a dog in the house. I mean the second dog. You are reading the first dog`s thoughts now. He was quite a bunny…never barked at visitors. I think it was sometime around the summer holidays, my parents had left me in-charge of the house and gone for a movie. More than me, they had faith in our Dog sarcastically named ‘Mr Obedient.` Around 5.30 p.m. I saw some visitors trying to feed our Dog…and Mr Obedient was not eating it at all. Instead, he kept on barking. This really angered me…and I picked up the biscuits…opened his mouth big and shoved them in.
It took the dog only five minutes to hit the floor. The next ten minutes saw the visitors inside my house packing up stuff. Later I would know they were thieves trying to drug our dog.
I was growing and with it my misadventures with animals came down. The last time I met an animal in this concrete jungle called Chennai was when I came across this Pig that had just climbed out of a manhole. It was jet black and dirty. Behind the first pig, came crawling its wife (at least that`s what they looked like – husband and wife). As soon as they came out of the manhole, the male pig started running after the female pig. In my desperate attempt to find out if I really liked pigs, I ran after the two.
Here are a few things I noticed about them –
1) They are ugly
2) They are dirty
3) They are messy & clumsy
4) They eat a lot
5) They run after the female pigs
6) After a heavy meal, they stagger
7) They never stay at home
On second thoughts…no on first thoughts itself…they remind me so much of myself.