Kolkata: Last night as I lay wide awake trying desperately to get to sleep as per Indian time, having flown in from Denmark, around midnight suddenly it poured cats and dogs. The drumming of the rain on the window ledges was lulling me in to a daze when the next-door lady came out running to persuade her son to get inside and not get wet.
“Come back home, my baba, or else you will get fever and fall sick,” she pleaded. “Who will guard my home if you are not there?” she implored to the stray dog that she has adopted as her son.
But he was adamant and was not budging a bit despite being nudged emotionally and physically. This went on for a few minutes when, unsuccessful in her efforts, the lady with the orange umbrella went home. The dog continued to sleep nonchalantly in the rain, which had cooled my nerves enough again into a slumber.
Then as suddenly, around 03:00 am, there was sharp barking from the street. This is nothing new in my mother-in-law’s neighbourhood which benefits from the so-called friendly guards whose siren calls not only keep the thieves at bay, but also our dreaded nightmares! So it went on, believe it or not, for several minutes, non-stop. Listen to the audio file for a sample.
I recorded it around 03:40 am when all my attempts to sush the belligerent son failed. Oh no, I realized, it’s not the belligerent son who was barking: he was still sleeping wet in the alley. It was his younger sibling who was probably complaining about his absence. (The orange umbrella lady has a big heart for stray dogs that can bark away neighbours’ nightmares on a nightly basis.) And since the barking one was locked down in the lady’s kitchen (with its windows facing the windows of the living room where I am living these days), I couldn’t sush them. So the verbal diarrhea continued.
Sleepless and annoyed, I put on my earphones to watch the comeback show of Arnab Goswami, the Indian TV news anchor well-known for his belligerence and who had gone missing for 2 months. Oh my, he too was back hounding imaginary enemies and scaring away all our nightmares.
In the dark living room, I was so engrossed in watching Arnab’s antics on my phone that I got scared shitless and jumped out of my chair when a half-asleep Maitreyee appeared in front of me to ask why I couldn’t scare away this dog! Not so easy, my darling, I said; this dog has a family of stray siblings who will happily join if you try to silence him.
(Do not think for a moment that I created a fable to defame the dog. Every bit of the story is true: the similarities between the circumstances are incidental. The hounding from the street and the phone continued until 05:00 am!)