I am not a regular writer and I am not used to pen down my thoughts. When I was speaking to one of my friends recently it just came across as an inspiration. I am more of a writer who writes his thoughts in snippets and trashes them in the next moment. Alright, this is an incident and a real life story that myself and my friends have seen and experienced. It is about someone we used to fondly called ‘Kalu’. The place was 34th main road in the J P Nagar 6th phase area in the city of Bengaluru.
Our days start early when we have to rush as early as possible for office and most of the days I felt like actually jumping off from the balcony just to save some time from climbing the stairs down. We weren’t staying in a very high off building but it was just the 2nd storey wherein we used to stay in one of the apartments. The fact that it used to take time to climb down the stairs was not because of the number of storeys but the mere reason that it would be always spilled with garbage packs pulled in from the nearby waste bins in the street. It was not always a great sight early in the morning and we had to jump off stairs so as not to step on the trash. How much ever careful one managed to be, there was always another hurdle and it was difficult. He used to lie there, wandering in his paradise of dreams with arms and legs stretched caring a damn about his brazen acts in the past night and who is crossing over his head in the morning and during the day. Yes this was Kalu, one among the stray street dogs in our neighbourhood and who had the credit of being famous inspite of his status compared to other pet dogs in the area. Kalu was young and healthy and used to survive on whatever nutrition he could gather from the leftovers and kitchen waste from all the nearby households. Weekends were a big time for him as most of the families used to cook good food and his relish was evident from the sleep he used to have in the Sunday afternoons in the staircase. A good kick in his back would wake him up to an extent of opening one of his eyes just to ensure that it is not one of his enemy dogs from the nearby lane. Kalu doesn’t care about anybody else. His days usually started with the daylight when he used to slog after a long night of being the Casanova in the whole big group of his mates. His days were meant to sleep and take rest unlike us who worked during the day and slogged towards the later part of the day. Apparently he had a peaceful life. He didn’t have to go out in the sun or get stuck in the traffic and make himself tired even before reaching the workplace. He used to stay near his workplace and rested in the nice shade while it was sunny all day. It was pretty obvious that sleep was all he worked for. For us, however, it is a difficult dream. We lose sleep just to work!
Kalu usually started his work when the dark of the night deepened. It felt like all that was awaited was the dinner tables cleaned in most of the homes. His freshness came up when all people were actually tired and weak. The fact is true not only with Kalu but with all of his friends. They were more excited when they would overhear someone snoring while passing by a window.
It is unknown to rest of the world what business they were into at night. After a tasty takeaway meal Kalu and his mates were usually seen roaming in the streets during the whole night. They were big gangs, each gang of around 10 to 15 dogs. The house owners considered them to be the guards whereas they were actually a menace for the passers-by but one has to accept the fact that if you are a proper resident of that street and well-dressed then you can rest assured that there would be no harm!
Kalu and his mates were usually envied by the nearby Pomeranian orLabrador. They might have been getting nice food and comfort of an air conditioner but not the liberty and freedom that Kalu and his friends had. They could not lift their leg and relieve themselves in every other new car’s tyre or street pole unless they were permitted by their owner. One wrong step and they get a pull in their neck. Probably barking inside the limits of a gate wasn’t always a matter of pride than being in a gang and fighting to secure one’s own lane and the boundary. There are other aspects as well to what made Kalu so fearless and the Poms and Labs envy him so much. He was graced with the charm of attracting all the bitches in the neighbourhood and he was well obeyed for this very quality. He had this untiring strength and stamina to satisfy all of them at a stretch. This was one of the reasons contributing to the gang wars as well. . It was a cry in the other lane which usually raged the start of the war as one of the valued members of the gang would be missing and might be involved in an illegitimate affair. Nevertheless, Kalu enjoyed. He used to love being Kalu, the smarter among the fellow mates in the community and he cherished life.
It was a regular affair. Reckless job and the busy nights followed Kalu and paid him well for his dedication. It was just another morning when we didn’t have to jump over garbage or shout “Kalu, move aside”. It was clean. We were happy assuming that the municipal corporation has started taking care of the garbage bins. Went down and to the street and there was nothing unusual. We left for office. Kalu being a regular guy, we didn’t pay much attention all the time. The weekend came and we still found the staircase clean. It was a difference. Another week passed and the change seeded the question in our minds. Came back home and asked my friend, “Jay, have you seen Kalu these days?” “No” was the answer. Upon sharing our observations over the past week we realised – Kalu was gone. “What??” “How can it be?”
Yes, we didn’t see him sleeping in the staircase since then nor found it dirty! Question remained in our minds as to where did Kalu vanish. His boundaries were limited to a part of the lane which was a small one. A view from the balcony showed three times bigger the area of that lane. We tried to zoom in to small areas with our telephoto lens and nothing helped. Nowhere could we find Kalu. The fact of meeting an accident in the nearby main road was ruled out. Though he was brave he had hardly shown any courage to leave the boundaries of his lane and to the extent of reaching the main road where traffic was 10 times more than in his lane. Was he hit and killed by someone in the neighbourhood itself? Was it the maid who had to clean all the debris and litter in the building staircase every day? We don’t know and would never know.
All that we know is Kalu somehow was being missed. He was just another street dog but managed to get the affection just like another well-cared pet dog. We did like the clean stairs later but missed all the fun we had discussing his actions. It was a topic of discussion during our leisure times. We still mistake many other black street dogs for Kalu and spontaneously end up asking each other “Hey, is that our Kalu??!”