Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"That Cheeru Dog"

“You know what ? that Cheeru dog died“ exclaimed one six year old to another, as we entered the lift lobby of our apartment building. My sister and I gave each other a saddened amused look. We were on our way back from giving a picture of our “that Cheeru dog “ for lamination.

‘That Cheeru dog’ passed away yesterday morning. She was 13 years old. ‘That Cheeru dog’ was born to our ‘Brooke dog’ the only one in that litter, her first out of four. ‘Brooke dog’ was taken away from us in 2002 by some weird unidentifiable Cancer when she was only 8. I poorly remember those first moments. My twelve year old heart was disappointed to see just one when it was expecting twelve. I had imagined a house full of unmanageable puppies and taken on the then mammoth task of finding that many names. I can only laugh now thinking back of how embarrassed I was to tell my friends that my dog gave only one pup.

‘That Cheeru dog’ was special ! She was my mums first grand child and we , my sister and I had become aunts at the age of 9 and 12 respectively. We didn’t have the heart to give her away though that was the initial plan. I don’t remember whose idea it was but mum says it was a joint decision by my sister and me and we did everything like that before we approached parents. Dad was skeptical about us being able to manage two dogs. But the rest of us whined and pled until the last minute and somehow convinced dad to send Cheeru’s new owners from the doorstep.

That day on I was a proud owner of two Dalmatian dogs. I made it a point to ask whoever I met whether they had dogs just to tell them, "I have two dogs, Both are Dalmations, like in the cartoon movie 101 Dalmations."

Cheeru fell in love with the first person she saw when she opened her eyes my Mum. That Cheeru Dog’s little world revolved around my mum. She followed her around everywhere, even to the bathroom. She would sit at the door and wait for my mum like she did till the morning she passed away. I was jealous. Brooke was my b’day gift but she was a stubborn dog who too loved my mum the most. I thought I had a chance with Cheeru but mum is the worLd for her. I was disappointed and depressed.

I loved and played with Cheeru in my own comparatively distant ways. I don’t know exactly why but I always felt closer to Brooke. After seven happy years with the lovely pets I went to study in another city. Brooke passed away in my first year there. I was heartbroken. I found myself further distancing myself from Cheeru.

I moved back in with my parents after college. I know why I had this stupid thought in my mind that Cheeru never loved me and with me having lived away for five years we couldn’t bond. But soon enough I was proved wrong, because our “That Cheeru dog” oozes love and affection that you cannot avoid. I had grown up enough now to really know and understand Cheeru dog.

Though mum meant everything to her she had a heart large enough to accommodate everyone, which I understood only later. She gave time to everyone everyday. Waking us by jumping on the bed and smearing our faces with her liquid affection, accompanying my grandmother to the balcony where she went to dry her laundry, coax my grand dad into sharing his snack, rubbing herself against dad’s legs if he dint pay enough attention, sprinting to the door to be the first one to jump on us and scratch our hands and legs , all this when she was not with mum. Everyone was fond of her. All our relatives, friends and neighbors. We were well known in the neighborhood as people living in “Cheeru ka Ghar” (cheeru’s house). Kids came often to our house to play with her and our tailor had stored my mum’s phone number under the name Cheeru. We had to lie about her ferociousness to instill fear in the mind of strangers to make her seem like a normal pet guarding the house.

I found myself bonding with Cheeru in a way different than when I was a child.
And then I got married and went away again. We took her all the way to Kerala for we dint want her to miss my wedding. I was in the same city and visited more than often. Funnily enough my husband is the only person that she barked at constantly. It was strange that every time he visited she would sit right in front of him and bark constantly. I love to believe that she didn’t like the fact that I was taken away from her by him.

I dint think I would be this distraught with grief on her leaving us. I probably hadn’t thought of this day every seriously as the others. When they spoke about what they would go through when Cheeru left us I would stand there listening devoid of any emotion or comment on their idiocy of harboring such thoughts. I think I never really believed that such a day would come.

And for some strange reason unknown to me I gave her more attention by hugging and talking to her a lot in the last one month and even more in the last one week. I was overcome by this unexplainably strange feeling of sadness every time I saw her. She was her usual self , did her usual things only I felt different especially the night before. That was the first time I felt she wasn’t going to be with us forever. Its disturbing that she should become "That Cheeru Dog, died" the very next morning.

I love you “That Cheeru Dog” and I know you loved me too.