Story of my blind love
I was standing on my balcony on the second floor, feeling the Chennai breeze hit my face. The last time I felt this was nearly 10 months back. As I was drinking the coffee that my mom made from freshly bought coffee beans, I noticed a husky brown dog playing with its owner on the streets. This immediately took me back to my memory lane, the instances of me playing with my Mani (a.k.a Subramani).
When Mani was brought home for the first time, the only two people who were happy about it were me and my brother. I’m sorry, my dad was also very excited, he just didn’t express it like we did. My grandparents absolutely resented Mani. My mom had a very “I love you, I hate you” relationship with him; loved him very much ’cause he is an innocent pup, hated him ’cause she had to feed him and stand his tantrums. One funny reason why my mom liked Mani very much was because it was disciplined from the beginning when it comes to excreting. It makes sounds to let us know that it needs to pee or poo and does all its business outside our house. This way, she doesn’t have to clean up after it, and in general Indian mothers love any disciplined kid.
We brought him two months into the quarantine in 2020 when we were at our grandpa’s in Tiruppur district. Most often, it felt like Mani was the only thing that cheered us up among all the horrible things that were happening that year. Mani is native to India, and we got it from a nearby town with the help of a middleman who overcharged, but for Mani, I thought it was worth it. Since we barely had any work, we used to play with him almost all the time. It was pampered not just by family, but also by the kids who stayed in that village. All in all, Mani had a great time, and so did me and my brother.
Problems started when he grew a little. When he was a baby pup, he used to sleep most of the time and barely needed any space to run around. Things changed when he became a grown puppy. Mani, unlike other foreign breeds, was designed to run and hunt. I was a proud dog mother, to be growing a dog that can run faster than a speeding bike, and be able to catch any animal that it wants to hunt. However, Mani was never taught to hunt, and it never did hunt, but it used to follow and run behind bikes and people, which others in the neighborhood used to complain about. We could tie him of course, but he used to keep crying to let us open the chain so he can run around, and we could also understand that it is his nature. I used to feel bad about torturing a creature, confining it to a small space, and worse, tying it to a pole with a chain to his neck. I felt awful, but it was too late to let it go, and letting him off the chain meant he would disturb others.
He created so many problems for us, but he remained to be the loyal, loving dog that he always was. He did many cute things, including but not limited to, waking me up in the morning by licking my leg, jumping on us when he sees us after a long gap and standing with just two legs while the other two was on our chest (yes, he was pretty tall), and getting on the front of scooty whenever we switch it on (we trained him for it). While this was there, he started giving us extra problems in addition to the ones that he had already given. He had this wonderful gift of strong-smelling abilities, which he decided to use for the worst. He used to pick long-dead animal’s carcass and leave it outside our house or our relatives' house to which he started visiting as he used to follow us there. This obviously was irritating both my grandparents and other relatives. At this point, everyone started bad-mouthing my Mani and advised us to leave it somewhere far away.
Sometime in between all this, my grandfather passed away and so we had to give our farmland for a lease to someone else as my grandmother couldn’t take care of it. This only made things worse as Mani couldn't be kept in a compounded large space and could only be kept at home which didn’t have any compound. Grandmother used to scold Mani every day, she used to cuss and beat him badly. I used to cry, not being able to bear the tortures that he had to go through. He is a dog, after all, he is just doing what he is supposed to do. After some time, she started scolding us as well, for bringing him home and bringing a bad name for her in the village. The villagers in there, including my grandmother, used to ask me why I’m holding on to “that dog” like a mad person. They never understood and never will. It is the love that it showed me, that innocent love that barely any human can give me that made me love my Mani so much. Not just that, he was like my dog son, I grew him, and so I will love him no matter what and it obviously blinded me from all his mischievous acts.
Months passed, with every day being quite a struggle to grow him. One day my college called me back, and I had to leave, least did I know it would be the last time I would see him. Things back at home were going fine, the same complaints, and each time we told ourselves that we had to manage for just two more years and we can bring him to Chennai when we move back to our deluxe house with a compound after my brother’s schooling was done. But Mani wasn’t planning to wait that long to show his destructive behaviors. He wasn’t a bad dog himself, but he joined another person’s dog and apparently hunted down one of the goats that were grown by a farmer in a nearby land. It became a huge issue, but since nobody really saw Mani hunting the goat or biting it, they let us take him back with just a price of 3000 rupees as compensation. But a similar incident occurred after just two months after the first incident, and this time, the situation was much worse. He had hunted down two pregnant goats, which this time, the farmer brought it to our home and laid it in front of my grandma’s house and cried. It was horrible to look at, and my parents felt a hollow feeling inside not knowing what to do because they obviously felt extremely terrible. Then Mani came home, his mouth and body full of blood, and nobody could control their anger at this point. All of them asked us to kill him immediately as this dog had already committed a lot of crimes and could continue to do so. Then there was a possibility of him attacking a human one day, and that would be much worse.
My grandmother lost her temper when Mani came back home, she thrashed him mercilessly for a good ten minutes before her age let her down, without listening to all the crying and moaning that Mani gave out, not being able to bear the pain. Then she finally said to my dad, “Take him to Chellamuthu and kill this dog or I will”. Chellamuthu is a person in a nearby village who is known for killing dogs, and I think he either does it by strangling them, poisoning them, or by feeding crushed glass in food (the cruellest). My dad couldn’t think at this point, he only knew that Mani got himself into a very bad situation this time, and no compensation money would save him. Everyone is asking him to kill Mani, but he loved him too much to do this.
But he did it anyway, as this was going to happen no matter what, and it might as well be him. He didn’t see Mani die though, he just left him with Chellamuthu and came back.
I got to know all this after my minor thesis presentation got over and when my brother informed me. He had tried to reach me earlier, but I was in the presentation hall. By the time I got to know, it was too late, too late to take back any decision that had been made regarding his survival. When I got to know about this, I couldn’t believe that this was happening. I didn’t accept it; I was in denial for a long time, until a drop of tear fell down my cheeks. I completely broke down, and I cried and cried until my puffed red eyes didn’t have any tears left. I stopped talking to my parents and grandmother, I kept going through my archives of Mani’s photos and videos. One day, I have to accept the truth and move on right? It happened, after a long period of time, after taking its own time. I guess I was aware after all, that this was coming. I shouldn’t have brought him home in the first place, we didn’t have the necessary infrastructure to grow him. Yet I did, and I eventually had to let him go after so many destructions. All of because of my blind love, and importantly, my selfishness. I made things painful for everyone. In the end, for what right?
I wiped the tears falling down my cheeks again, and I looked at my coffee that has become cold now. I am not a fan of coffee that has lost its warmth, but I don’t waste, so I gulped it down in one go and went back inside. I think about opening my photos app, but I realise that it’ll only bring pain, so I opened my laptop instead to watch something on Netflix.