“One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him." - Chinese Proverb
“Barking dogs seldom bite” proverb was finely taught to me by Bobby master in my fourth standard at St Mary’s. Unfortunately, like great Warrior Karna, who forgot the crucial Mantra in the hour of need, I forgot it every time a barking dog came rushing at me, especially when not chained.
Due to my phobia, many of my casual encounters with those innocent animals have turned out to be tricky and even enlightening ones. Here I share one such experience, which happened during my term-end holiday after my first year PU.
Knowing the Book-Boy
Unlike the adventurous kids I preferred to spend time reading books in holidays. I was rather crazy for books and had finished up all the stock. To my delight, I came to know that a little boy doing his 9th in Little Flower had a huge collection and was generous in lending. One morning my craving for new books reached such a frustrating height that at once I set myself off to Book-Boy’s house.
At Padmanoor, I approached a friend of mine, Prakash to help me reach his house. He gladly obliged and soon we were on our way to the dwelling of famous Lobos (Book-Boys parents).
The Unpleasant surprise
Destination was half a kilometer away, barely we had covered half of It, a surprise was in store for us. A massive, brown ferocious dog came rushing towards us with loud barking, making all sorts of awful faces. I was taken aback with fear and was feeling terribly nervous. Seeing it Prakash whispered “Lobo’s Dog”. In moments it was within a feet from me and was staring eye to eye like a Aussie cricketer. The nauseating effect of its cold gaze and heart wrenching noise made me tremble feverishly. My throat dried and I was overwhelmed by fear.
To my surprise Prakash was unaffected and continued walking as if he was strolling in the annual Santhmari fare of Kinnigoli. He ignored the Dog as if it was a rabbit. Seeing his audacious approach, I mustered some courage and kept my feet moving and escaping the eyes of the dog, I covered another 50 meters. Those were the longest 50 meters I have ever covered.
Prakash was still walking like a mythological warrior going for ultimate combat. His indifference towards the dog was so obvious that I even feared that it would insult or offend the Dog. Next moment, Lobos house appeared and I felt a bit relieved.
My relief was short lived. Suddenly two more ferocious dogs from the hostile neighborhood sprang forward from nowhere, to aid Lobo's dog in its ignoble cause. They came with wild war - cry of a reserve battalion. The bigger looked far wicked. It had a twisted black face which it spun to look an alien. From its rubber like face protruded sharp and ugly teeth. It tossed its long neck up in the air as to draw flesh from my body.
Then there was the shining- black dwarf dog. This was one tenth in size to Lobo’s dog but seemed most likely to draw the first blood. He looked a reckless blood thirsty wretch who would care a damn about killing a good man or any law of the land.
By now I was sure that the damned dwarf wretch would jump on me first prompting the others to follow suit. My thin blood would stain the green lush meadow of the Lobos. My soul would be forced out of my mutilated body like a tenant who had skipped a year’s rent.
Shuddering with fear, I kept small reluctant steps. I prayed to Lord Jesus and mother Mary, St Lawrence, Arch Angel Gabriel and all the Saints, martyrs and holy men and women. I offered a special plea to St Michael, the Angel to whom that part of Kinnigoli parish (Vado) was dedicated as I thought it would be prudent and politically correct. Soon, before I could cover another fifty meters, I ran out of prayers. I felt my mouth dry and air passage blocked. After a few moments I felt the dogs nearer, noise louder and then my eyes got blurred. Last sight I saw was of Parkash, who was still unaffected and walking like an Olympic winner towards the podium.
The next moment I found myself dead on the grass. The three dogs were returning quietly after feasting on me. My body dilapidated, limbs torn apart, fingers cut and thrown here and there, as farthest as near to Vishenti’s , Naveen’s and Elli’s house.
After a while I found my house. Simon’s undertakers were delivering the coffin with little Willy following him with wreath and the flowery cross. My parents and sister were crying besides me inconsolably. My sister, crying aloud, instantly forgave me, for eating all her chocolates the previous day. I also saw Noththu bai, our friendly neighbor, crying aloud saying what a sweet boy I was, forgetting that it was only previous day she had cursed me badly for taking her son to play cricket. Our milk maid Sindakka too cried remembering the “Bellary” mangoes that I gave for her granddaughters Sudha and Susmitha. But the loudest wailing came from my friend and neighbor Pramesh whom I owed five Rupees.
Then came the priest Fr. Stany Tauro, who blessed my corpse and showered lavish praise about what a good and angelic boy I was. What a splendid talent the church had missed and what a loss it was for Kinnigoli Parish and possibly for entire mankind!!.
Soon the wailings reached its peak. My beloved ward members were crying aloud. They were worried about who would play my roles in the annual ward feast skits. Pijinanna the coconut picker, Babanna my barber, Kudwa bus conductor, Adarsh tailors, Seetharam Shetty who made a fortune selling me milk shake, Ice – Candy man Sudha all came forward to pay homage. Two men were crying inconsolably in the corner. They were the book sellers, Kamath Maam and Late Ramachandra Bhat.
My soul was out of the body now. I felt sorry for my bereaving parents. My poor dad who toiled hard in gulf dreaming I would become engineer someday, mom who dreamt that I would take her in our own car in her old age and my sister who thought I would soon grow old enough not to fight with her for chocolates, were shattered. I remembered all my friends and cricket team partners. I cursed myself for losing everything for a few damned books.
A few moments later my body was in the church. Then came Mr. Joseph Quadros with a chit in his hand. He stood near the mike and straightened it. He observed the crowd, caressed his black beard and started reading from the chit. He said “Hello Mr. Joyer”. This was a shock to me. Never before Mr. Joseph Quadros had made such funny mistakes, he was a renowned eulogist. Again he said loudly “Hello Joyer”. Suddenly I opened my eyes and found Book Boy in front of me.
Meeting Ravi Lobo, Famous writer of Daiji World fame
Then I realized that it was all a day dream. Out of fear I had gone into trance and reached Book-Boy’s house unaware. The voice I heard was not of Joseph Quadro’s but that of Book Boys’.
“So which book do you want,” He said.
“No, no, Dog… heaven ,” I uttered in confusion.
“So you want Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant, I have it”
“ No….dog… bites.. man” I murmured.
“ So you want The Best of Man Bites Dog, by Donal Foley. Sorry Francis has taken it”
“No.. Joesph.. Q,” I felt choked
“OK, OK I got it, you want Joseph by Gene A. Getz and Edwin Louis, I have two copies,” He replied.
Now I had grown fully mad and I told him “Hey Book Boy I don’t want any book, I just want to get away from this Dog haunted place. Help me reach the Appanakodi main road, keep your dogs off me”.
“O.K. Don’t call me Book Boy. My name is Lobo, Ravi Lobo” he said. (The book boy is a famous writer now. He writes for Daijiworld .com and still retains his love for books)
Soon he dropped me and Prakash to Appanakodi and returned reading a book.
The Moral of The Story:
As Ravi departed, Jerome turned to me and said “You are my hero Joyer, you are really a brave person”
I turned to him in shock and asked “are you joking”
“ I really admire your courage. The way you walked with your head held high, the way you showed care-a -damn attitude towards the dog, I am really impressed.”
I asked him “when”
“The last 50 meters “
“But before that you were walking with your head held high” I said.
“Oh forget it, I had gone into trance out of fear for the first half. When I recovered, I saw you. Seeing your brave approach, I managed to reach Ravi’s house” Prakash replied.
Then we both understood the situation.
When Prakash was in Trance, I had mustered courage to walk, inspired by him. He managed to walk by mistaking my trance to my courage.
This made us understand that fear was just a creation of mind. When threat presents itself, individuals perceive it uniquely. The brave are unaffected and the timid get panicked.
I fear dogs a bit less now. Especially when in trance!