Hungry Tails

Amidst the crowded streets of Mumbai, inside a shallow ditch, there lived a little puppy – jungly kutta (JK). He seemed all alone and lost, with no family around. In spite of the hustle bustle on the busy street, all he could hear were the rumbling noises from within him. The noises seemed alien to him, but the pangs in his belly were real. It took him a while to understand that the noises and pain were related.

He hadn’t known what it was to be hungry. After-all he always had his caring and loving mommy to look out for him. He didn’t have much to worry about back then, only how to win the games of hide-and-seek that he played with his siblings. JK was the best at the game as he was always the last to be found. Being the smallest and darkest of the lot gave him the advantage of hiding in dark corners or tiny crevices without getting noticed. He never saw his flaws as a weakness as it had had always worked in his favour. He believed he was a hero. And when in doubt, he would seek validity in the eyes of his mother, who only looked with pride at the apple of her eye, convincing him that he was indeed special.

His first experience with pain and struggle started three nights ago. As always, late into the night, he was busy engaged in a game of hide and seek along-with his family. While JK was hiding under a crate this time, he could hear his siblings yelp. He didn’t understand what was happening at first as he knew the rules of the game were to stay as silent as possible in order to win. He almost believed that something was wrong, when a thought came to him that it might just be another tactic used against him – to come out of his hiding spot. He continued to stay still and didn’t fall prey to the frenzy. However, he was alarmed when he heard his mother cry. That’s when he realised that something was definitely wrong. He forgot all about his game and ran in the direction of the sound of his mother. He ran as fast as his little feet could take him. The cry got louder and louder and he knew he was getting close. He didn’t understand why would his mother cry, but sensed the alarm in her voice and knew he had to get to her as soon as possible.

At the turn of the street he came face-to-face with a monstrous yellow eyed beast. He seemed to be a huge wild city animal, unlike the smaller city animals he used to see near where he lived, in the by lanes of the city. The beast seemed ferocious and angry. Behind the beast he could see a human manhandling his mother. He also spotted his siblings tied-up together to the back of the monstrous animal. He tried to motion his mother of his presence, to let her know that her hero had come to the rescue; when all of a sudden JK sensed the beast glowering at him, making him step aback. Staggering behind, he lost his footing and fell into a ditch. The ditch was deep enough for him to be trapped-in, but wasn’t so deep to obstruct his view of what’s outside. He tried to climb out of it, but it wasn’t easy as it seemed. He had to rescue his mother and the rest of his family, and he couldn’t even rescue himself right now. He was disappointed at himself. He used to think so highly of himself just a few moments ago, until now. He didn’t know what it felt like to lose. He didn’t like the sense of failure. JK was helpless.

He hadn’t failed as miserably as what he thought he had. His mother had noticed what happened from the corner of her eye and tried harder to free herself from the human, but he had gotten a good grip on her. When she knew her efforts were going in vain and that she couldn’t escape, nor rescue her children, she began to calm down a bit and submit herself to this dominant human. However, before surrendering completely, she howled looking at the black sky. JK was bewildered by what he saw. He couldn’t react nor respond. He knew a howl wasn’t a happy mode of communication. He was in a confused state of mind – his instincts told him to join in the chorus but his conscience told him to continue to stay quiet and try to rescue his family. In a single howl his mother had conveyed her departing message to him without letting the human understand their language. She begged for JK to stay in hiding and be safe. She couldn’t promise if she would return coz she had to stay with the rest of the pack. The entire situation seemed bizarre to JK. He thought it was a bad dream and would wake up suddenly to find everything as it used to be. No matter how hard he tried, he never woke up from his sleep coz it was all a reality.

Within minutes the monstrous beast was on it’s way; taking with it everyone JK had known in this world, leaving him all alone in the ditch. He followed the monster by the path of the ditch. He scampered through the long narrow trench following the scent of his family, until he couldn’t track them any longer. He was drained out of energy and had grown weak. He was lost and had no track of time either. Although there didn’t seem any hope of finding them, he didn’t give up and continued on his way. He kept walking, under the moonlight and sunlight, until he collapsed and lost consciousness.

He awoke with a start, only to find himself in the hopeless situation that he had passed out in. He was brought back to reality by the weakness within him. He heard strange funny noises that were not so audible. With great deliberation he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going crazy nor was he dying; it was just the hunger and thirst within him that made him feel that way and if he hadn’t addressed their needs soon enough, he wouldn’t be very far from his death bed. Reality check brought him to the present moment of self realisation. He figured what he truly is and isn’t capable of. He knew one thing for sure, that he wasn’t invincible and was definitely no superhero. Several thoughts raced through his mind. All he could remember were flashes of memory from three nights ago. He couldn’t understand what to acknowledge and what to act upon. He was being too hard on his puppy self, expecting results that would be difficult even for a full-grown trained military dog to achieve. He was utterly confused and depressed. He lay whimpering in the dirty ditch hoping to find a way out of his misery.

Not long after he pleaded to the universe for a miracle, a giant black and white spherical object came flying towards him. It bounced about for a while, before it came to rest right beside him. JK was terrified of the foreign object. He seemed to find it strange that the object decided to settle only in the small crater beside him although there were plenty of other options around. He looked at it skeptically expecting it to move toward him and attack without notice. His innate energy made him growl and snare at the immediate threat. He was all set to defend himself when out of nowhere a little human appeared in search of something. JK was intimidated, at the same time sadness swept him from his insides. He understood that the human had come looking for the foreign object, and was dejected that nobody had come looking for him yet. He retreated from his defence position as he knew the foreign object was no longer a threat and would be rescued by the human and taken away from HIS ditch. He had come to believe that the ditch where he resided these days was his territory.

While he was sulking over the thoughts of his dwelling, he was startled by the sudden touch. The little human had lifted him out of the ditch rather than lifting what he had come in search of. The warm touch of the human scared him all at the same time soothed his fears. He could feel his heartbeat racing faster than normal and sensed he was trembling with fear, or due to starvation, or probably both. He dare not move, for he thought that disobedience would only be followed by punishment by the little human, just like how his family had been hurt when they rebelled against the human that captured them. He was too afraid to move, besides he didn’t have the energy to fight either. He lay as still as he could and was surprised to feel comforted by the human embrace and the cradling arms of the little human. Just when his mind calmed down, it was alerted back to panic mode by the pack of little humans rushing toward the little human holding him. JK was immobile. He didn’t know what was happening. He was freaked out due to the commotion, while the soothing caresses of the little human ignited a feeling within him that everything is going to be alright. The noise made by the other little humans irritated him. He wanted to bark and summon silence around him. The little human sensed the tension and began to whisper sweet nothings into JK’s ear; while JK couldn’t follow the language, the energies and body language conveyed the message. He knew he was in safe hands. The feeling of warmth and security let go off something within him. His alert and tired mind wandered off somewhere, he didn’t know if he was awake or asleep, it all felt very surreal.

JK woke up groggy after awhile, what felt like a couple of minutes of sleep was actually several hours of unconsciousness. He felt dizzy but somehow seemed stronger. There was something odd attached to his leg. When he tried to shake it off, it made him wince in pain. He slowly opened his eyes to see what it was. He hadn’t seen such a thing before – a white balloon full of some liquid, floating in midair and unable to fly away coz it was tied to his leg. JK thought he wasn’t seeing properly and so he opened his eyes wide. Now alert and awake, he took a moment to absorb his surroundings. He lay in a soft comfortable bed, tailor made for him, that was inside a gigantic white cube with some odd fixtures and decoration on it’s sides. One side of this giant cube had a big hole cut through half it’s length, beyond which he could see familiar objects – the green trees, the chirping birds and the big blue sky. He could also hear the familiar sounds of the city animals pass-by. JK felt comforted by the familiarity of the sight and sound. He turned his gaze towards the cube again and noticed the same little human, who had come to his rescue earlier, approach him. Seeing JK awake made him happy and shriek for joy. Hearing him, a couple of other humans, of varying sizes, followed him into the cube. JK had never received so much attention before, he was enjoying the stardom. He tried getting up but the balloon that was caught to his leg held him down. He remembered his hunger and thirst, but couldn’t feel it anymore. He came to realise that the balloon was working some kind of magic on him for it made him feel strong and healthy. He knew what was happening around him was too good to be true. He thought it was a dream and if he drifted into a slumber this time, all this luxury would all be taken away and he would be back on the street or worse, in the lonely ditch again. But JK was unable to hold back his drooping eyelids, they forced his eyes shut and he was made to rest.

A couple of weeks later, JK had forgotten all about his past. He had not only grown in size, but in spirit too. He was now a calm assertive dog full of energy and happiness. He has grown to accept these bunch of humans as his new pack and the little human as the pack leader. They also had a keen sense of affection toward him and considered JK as part of their family. They had also given JK a new name – Coco, to match his deep chocolate brown colour. He had a purpose in life now – to protect his newfound pack and his master. He was devoted to their security, he would even lay down his life for them, if needed. He was eternally grateful to him, not only for saving his life but for giving him a new life. JK had finally come “home”.


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