Thursday, April 07, 2016

Days of Thunder...

 Nobody knows who named him 'Thunder'. Maybe it's because of his ferocity! He's a stray dog who became homeless when his owners shifted out of this place and decided to abandon him. There are a half a dozen strays over here along with another dozen pets. The competition for food is fierce among the strays. I saw him once, desperate for food, hungry, weak. Went to the bakery and got a few sweet buns. He gobbled them all up and continued to look at me, asking for more.

 He followed me to my house and started to loiter around. I started getting him buns every time I visited the nearby bakery. And that's how he found a permanent unconditional basic income(the likes of which I salivate for :) ). He became a permanent fixture outside our house--loitering around the whole day, but keeping our house as his base. And once his hunger pangs got extinguished, another trait surfaced in him-- his territorial instincts.

No dog can enter our lane when thunder is around. He's absolutely ruthless! Doesn't hesitate to face 3-4 dogs, and with a little prodding, doesn't hesitate to attack and land a bite or two--just like a movie hero who takes on multiple goons at the same time. And he has another habit--to invade others' territories and stamp his authority over them. This happens when I go on a walk, at dusk or dawn. He yawns once, dusts himself and starts following me. As we cross the political boundaries, he lifts his hind leg and makes fresh markings. Invariably other dogs come barking, and thunder stands his ground, staring at them, assessing the situation. One prodding 'swish' from me, and he lunges forward, attacking the unsuspecting dogs and sends them packing.

Of course, there are times when he gets subdued and mauled but they are few and far in between.

What's even more troubling about Thunder is his suspicion towards anyone who dares to walk towards our house. 'Guilty until proven innocent' is his mantra, so anyone, be it the paper-boy, gas delivery fellow, cableman, internet-guy or any worker...they are welcomed with a ferocious, attacking barking stance. He bullies them and makes them freeze on their spot. Then one of us have to rush and shoo him away, apologise to the human, and allow them to pass. 'Good, in a way,' says a neighbour. 'Now, no thief will gather muster to come over here.'

 Thunder has a sensitive side too. He isn't nasty with everyone. When a friend came visiting, I was on my feet, worried that thunder would attack him, but he was most subdued and docile. 'He gave us a warm welcome,' said my friend. So was it when my relatives came visiting.

 * * *

 One morning, a few weeks ago, Thunder let out a volley of ferocious barks. We rushed out, wondering which unfortunate person needs assistance this time, but no. It was a snake! Not a full grown reptile, but not a baby either. Maybe an adolescent. His hood raised and hissing. Must be a cobra. Thunder was furious, so was the snake. They were trying to attack and land a blow on each other. I screamed out at thunder, trying to dissuade him, but he mistook it for an 'attacking swish' and got more encouraged. The snake was equally agile, trying its best to escape but thunder wouldn't let it move. Sensing trouble I ran down, picked up a stick...and before I could shoo thunder away, he caught the snake by its tail, whipped it up in the air and struck it down on the hard ground twice!!!

That's the way a snake is handled...and I had seen it done in my village. Catch hold of a snake by its tail, raise it in the air and swirl so that it doesn't bite you, and then slam it hard on the ground, breaking its head. Thunder....bloody fellow, he must've been a villager from my native in his previous birth, because that's how he tackled the snake. And before he could bite the snake, I shooed him away, allowing the injured snake to escape and find refuge in a nearby bush.

 The snake escaped with a few bleeding wounds. Thunder was seething. I called up a snake-catcher. The snake lay coiled on a bush, bruised and too weak to slither away. Someone had to keep the dog at bay until the snake-catcher arrived, so we kept vigil for a couple of hours. And before the guy arrived, the snake escaped into the thick jungle surrounding our house. Thunder appeared tired but
victorious. There were silent applauses for his bravery and dare-devilry. More food and delicious crumbs came his way.

* * *

The snake arrived today morning...perhaps by accident, or maybe to take revenge. Was it the same snake? It looked so. They say, an injured snake will not forget its enemy and will lay in wait even for years to exact vengeance. The snake...perhaps underestimated Thunder. A few warning barks, that's all. 

And then....he grabbed the snake's head in his mouth and ripped him apart ruthlessly with an extraordinary ferociousness. We could dissuade him a bit, but the snake was finished by then. Thunder destroyed the lifeless body of the snake and threw him out in the under growth.

 An vibrant dance of death and life. Thunder was lucky this time. If it were a fully grown snake, he would've found his match. Or maybe....he would've summoned his dormant primal survival and attacking instinct and thundered down to rip apart the reptile.

Maybe such battles await him in future, while he munches on his cream buns and gulps down cups of water in the sweltering summer heat.

1 comment:

  1. I worry about his diet. You might be vegan, but he needs some protein...beans, cheese, etc. He looks healthy and loyal.