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Science Fiction and Fantasy | An Indian Experience

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Issue 1

The Strange Story Of A Repaired Dog By Dr. Kumar Arunachalam

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A perfect stranger, tall and young, walked up to me purposefully, and extending a hand asked, “Dr Kumar?”

“Yes sir, I am.”

“I need some help.”

So saying he sat himself next to me. He seemed quite edgy and uptight. Then in a somewhat hesitant tone, queried if I could help him out finding a new home for his dog.

“I am leaving for Australia for good tomorrow sir, and I cannot bear to part with my dog, you must find a loving home for this fellow.”

Fellow here meant the dog, I assumed. In India, especially south India, people have this odd habit of referring to animals in anthropomorphic terms. The request itself was not too unusual, as I am known to many as an animal lover and occasionally help out in matters such as these. But what the stranger wanted next, was way out of my usual ambit of assistance.

“I would appreciate doc, if you could find someone to adopt my dog, today itself. Maybe by tonight?”

“Now, now, young man. This is getting too far,” I muttered under my breath. “You just barge in, and suddenly start putting demands and ransom notes into my unwilling hands. Sorry sir, I could help, but as you well know it is well nigh impossible to find a good home for an adult dog in a trice. It takes time, not less than one week.”

“A week, God! No way, doc, please help-a week’s an eternity, and I have to leaving tomorrow itself and before that I want to see the fellow well settled.”

Boy, this man was nuts! He is in a tearing hurry to run off to down under, and I must therefore get myself into another tearing hurry to find his mutt a new home. I was quite livid now.

“Sorry mate. It is not possible, I cannot be of much help,” I said, holding my voice decibel and inflexion within controllable limits.

The man didn’t give up. He just stood still, and in a somewhat pleading tone, queried if I could at least try. By now, I was quite sorry for him.

“OK, OK. I will try, but-”

“Here is my card sir, and the dog is at this address. I have made arrangements for someone to feed and water the fellow for today.”

Before I could add another word, the stranger shook my hands, vigorously enough, to testify that the deal was through. And he was gone. Me, with just a visiting card to tell me where to go next. Strange are the ways of men, I mused.

That evening, at home, relaxing, I was interrupted by a telephone call. A tremulous voice over the line, a trunk call from Bantwal, a small town 24 kms from my place.
“Doctor Kumar, can I meet you right away?”

“No, not this evening please, maybe tomorrow at my office?”

“No Doctor, I have to meet you and discuss some very important matter personally. I will be there at your place in forty minutes.”

I sensed a certain nervousness and shake in the voice. The caller had invited himself, and gave me no leeway to offer any excuse. In thirty minutes I had a jeep at my door, and trooping out from the vehicle, a motley group, two men, one quite old, a young woman, and a little girl, maybe nine. Between puffs of breathlessness, the man, probably the father of the child poured out his woe, which inter alia ended in a strong plea for the delivery of a dog, right now.

I was quite amazed at the audacity of this family, coming like this unannounced and uninvited, insisting on delivery at short notice.

Why, this man was as uncouth as the one I had bumped into this morning, the Aussie bound roo.

I shook my head, and said, “No, this is not possible. I cannot produce litters at the wave of a magic wand.”

Hearing my emphatic refusal, the family went into a huddle at the verandah corner, a stifled sob, and sigh a few hiccups, much handkerchief relay. God this was ridiculous, this drama. Then I saw the little girl break into a plaintive weep. Uncontrollable she appeared to be, the tears flowed copiously, and non-stop.

This was getting too unseemly for me. Then, the old man in the group, the granddad of the girl maybe, walked over to me, and nudging me by my shoulder moved me away from the room.

“Please doctor; don’t say no, you see, Sona, my grandchild, had a dog she really loved. Suddenly last week a road accident got the poor dog. It was run over by a speeding vehicle on the NH-17 across our Bantwal house. No matter what we said or did, Sona, is heartbroken. She wants her dog, and wants it now. Too little to understand the finality of mortality, she thinks the dog’s disappearance is temporary. Maybe I was at fault too, for you see, I told her that her dog needed ‘repairs’ after the accident and God had taken her to His hospital for mending, and soon enough He’d send it back, hale and healthy, all sewed up. Now the bluff cannot last any longer, Sona is becoming impatient, and she has even stopped eating. Please doc, please, help-”

The old man took off his heavy horn-rimmed glasses and wept a large tear.

“Any dog, any age, any gender-just a four-legged pooch doc, and I will deal with the inevitable explanations and sequence. Sona, can be tricked, she is but a child,” he added amidst audible sobs.

Boy, this is incredible. Somewhat apologetically, I told the old man, “I did indeed have a dog ready for adoption, but-”

The man fairly jumped up with a start, “Where, let’s go right now and get it.”

“You see, ahem, the dog is right now at another place a few kilometers off, and it is already dark. Maybe, tomorrow morning you could have a look and decide.”

“No, no right now. We will drive you up to anywhere, even if it is dark, I have a torchlight here with me”, he said, tapping his Jubba pocket.

So off we went, the odd group in the jeep, to the address the Aussie man had given me. Past winding dark lanes, moss lined laterite walls, hedges and shrubbery, we reached dead end road. We parked the jeep there and I walked up down the road, the younger man lighting the path with his torch beam. At the far end of the dark alley, stood a rambling tile roofed house, unlit and forbidding. I walked up to the gate with the young man, Sona’s dad, who had a torch in hand. At the padlocked gate, I reached for the large brass key the dog owner had pressed into my hand that morning.

Click. Creak.

“Bingo! Bingo!” I yelled.

Suddenly, I felt a tightening of the hand on my arm. Sona’s father stood shell shocked and trembling.

“What did you call the dog? Bingo? Bingo? That’s my dog’s name doctor-”

There bounding up to the gate in the inky darkness came a large two year old male Doberman, a prime specimen of the breed.

‘Woof, woof,’ he leapt. All tongue and docked tail, in sheer exultation and joy. ‘Slurp, slurp,’ his saliva went washing my face. The man next to me stood transfixed.

“God, doctor, my dog Bingo was a Doberman too, and a male, and literally a clone of this fellow.”

So saying, he went into a swoon. The wet tongue revived him anon, and off we walked to the car, Bingo hopping and circling us in unbridled glee. As is in cue, Bingo leapt into the back of the jeep and nestled his face on Sona’s lap, his docked tail melting into the thin dark night air.

The little girl was delirious with joy, and I saw a clutch of shocked ashen faces around the scene. They just stared at the twosome, the little girl and her ‘resurrected’ dog. The whole event was eerie, and bizarre. Sona was the only one who appeared unfazed. Her dog was back, all mended by God, and complete.

As I saw the family leave in a cloud of diesel smoke, the sound of chuckles and laughter, mingled with the yips and yaps of Bingo punctuated the still air. Thanks to the faith of one old man, one little girl’s trust in fairies and Santa Claus stood unshaken. As for me, I have little idea how such a series of coincidences could occur in one tandem, in one day.

It is eight years now since all this happened. Sona is a bright pretty college going teenager now, and an MTV buff. Bingo is still around, a wee senile, but has enough vim in him to make his docked tail twirl into a tizzy when his Sona is around.


Cover Pic By Carol Lara – Flickr: My Dog Kitty Running, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31813315

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A professor in a Medical College, Dr. Kumar Arunachalam is a prolific writer and holds the Limca Book of Indian Records distinction of having published the largest range of scientific research papers. Author of four books and over 150 articles, Dr Kumar is known in wildlife circles for his observations on ornithology.