Please excuse any confusion in tenses. I am very bad at writing in the present tense, I prefer past tense.
What should I say about my new surroundings? It has been three feverish days and the future looks as uncertain as ever. My new apartment, which I share with my colleagues at college, is small, cramped and troublesome in certain aspects. Its part of a three storey building which is tiny by any parameters; the apartment is on the first floor and opens up to a balcony which faces the narrow street laden intermittently with bricks and sand being used in illegal construction work.
One can often find children playing and riding bicycles apart from the presence of a few stray dogs.
This brings me to one of the saddest truths of our country-stray dogs. The dogs are everywhere; we are more than used to them apart from stray cows and other domesticated animals. For the dogs especially, who lead open, adventurous lives that surviving a day seems to be a challenge. They often reproduce in large numbers and I have personally witnessed more than one of them being indifferently crushed by cars and trucks. They have absolutely no value and are unyielding in contrast to other domesticated animals, and therefore aren’t given any attention. They are severely emaciated, tongues lolling and sniffing desperately for food. Some lucky ones are able to get some food meanwhile the rest aren’t so lucky and go hungry for long periods. The sad truth is, these dogs don’t die of hunger, and they continue to survive somehow, a life laden with hardship, struggle and excruciating pain.
Connoisseurs of existentialism would maybe raise their heads and ask God as to why give life to these poor animals and make them existence arduous. What’s the point? Are some people/animals are born simply to go hungry, pain, suffer, cry on the way to their eventual demise. People can be proactive and under certain circumstances, make a decent living, but animals can’t. They aren’t as intelligent, able-minded as we humans. No, I do not advocate the thought of humans being the most superior creation. Every creation/ being has its own capacities/capabilities. Does that mean that their lives aren’t important? I haven’t been outside my own country which is known for being over populous, but I certainly hope that animals are given due treatment elsewhere. We are responsible for our own behavior and hold influence over what goes around us whether we accept it or not. Such responsibility cannot be alleviated by passing it on to fellow people, God or anyone else.
This brings me to some images I want to share. The home opposite mine, a dog is chained whose legs have bent, the bones have weakened. I have seen this very same dog in a healthy state a few months ago when I had come to visit my friend. He was healthy and would bark a lot as he was chained. Nowadays, he doesn’t bark once in a day, has to wait hours for his water and has been crippled due to lack of exercise after being chained for months on end. He has bent; there is a sense of defeat in his demeanor. A few days ago, coinciding with my arrival here, a dog gave birth to seven puppies. I counted four of them today, the rest three I do not know the whereabouts. These puppies are tiny, playful, full of life and absolutely adorable. Their foreheads are still wrinkled; they are barely a week old and have begun walking around. They exist on things people have thrown away callously on the roads and also, their mother feeds them every day. This morning, I saw three of the puppies sharing a meager meal between them while the fourth one, being slightly ousted was wincing near his mother, who was fast asleep beneath a car, expecting food. I feel guilt ridden when I say that I didn’t pay much attention to the puppy’s face as he whimpered and whined in his tiny voice.
I have always wanted to pat them but I have refrained, these puppies live in deplorable hygienic conditions and I worry about catching a disease. Only this afternoon, the screams of one puppy rented our humble abode. It is perfectly normal for a person living here to hear puppies scream and whine to their deaths. My first thought- a car has trampled this poor fellow. Again, the piercing scream of a puppy erupted- it was in desperate pain. Curious, I went out to the balcony. What I witnessed was a woman brandishing a broom and cursing the puppies for accidentally entering through the gates of her house. I felt infuriated and silently cursed that lady. Apparently the puppies were about to burgle her house (excuse my sarcasm). The poor puppies ran into a small enclosure around a tree roadside. Soon, I heard them screaming again, this time it turned out that the lady handed over her broom to her son who found excessive pleasure in swishing it down on the puppies. They ran helter-skelter in panic. In a flash I was reminded as how impressible we all are as children, I have seen stray dogs petrified of people because they have received much incomprehensible punishment from their hands. It’s the sad truth. The boy gleefully drove the puppies back into their enclosure, which, are as restless and playful as any other baby and often tried to run out of the enclosure but the boy would drive them back. He prod the stick of the broom into their enclosure and heavens if they tried to escape he would swish it upon them. Meanwhile, people passed by (not that today I consider myself to be any different) without as much as a glance. The puppies cried, they sounded terrified and were shivering in the enclosure. Soon the boy was joined by his friend who continued to harass the puppies for some time. Their mother, who should teach her children to not hurt animals on the contrary, has taught them quite the opposite. What good are such people who think that humans are a supreme creation above everything else, who think that they have the right to hurt animals without any repercussions. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a guilt ridden man as I write this piece for I witnessed all of the abovementioned without emitting a word. To be frank, I should have gone out and opposed such nonchalant behavior. But I consider that people such as these are unyielding and far from contributing to society is a burden on it.
I end with a quote.
Mahatma Gandhi: A lot can be told about a society by the way it treats its animals.