—Saloni Kamat. English First Language coursework essay – writing to narrate, 2014. Graded A*.
As I watched her affectionately, her eyes did not seem to look any farther than the edges of the bed she was nested in. Until yesterday, she was brimming over with passion and ardour for me. Our sisterly relationship was on the verge of change. Now, she cared neither for my impertinent curiosity nor for me. She did not seem to bother about the persons in the room admiring her newborns, yet my requests to examine and fondle them were politely declined.
Papillon, a female German Shepherd with verve and vigour, jealousy and possessiveness, had become a mother to
five vulnerable offsprings, all females. Their care and protection overrode all other concerns.My attempts to cajole her into leaving her nursery, which was directly beneath my room, and mingling with everyone were fruitless. The pups weaved across her body – some found motherly warmth under her legs and tail, some lay by her head and others undertook great excursions and treks over, around and under her.
Lala, the German Shepherd, could not contain his fatherly curiosity. Peeking through the entrance and leaping through the window, his mother-like affection made its way through Papillon’s snarls and warnings. A fierce fight ensued ending in victory for Lala. I admonished Lala to leave the room.
Though the puppies were tiny, they enchanted me. Their movements intrigued me. Their eyes and ears were shut, however, they had a sense of their minuscule world. Two pups opened their bead like eyes on the eleventh day. Soon afterwards, ears opened and a “woof” was let out. They scared persons peeping through window by concerted ‘ferocious’ barks. I worked for the dogs with devotion: feeding, comforting and walking them and mediating in their quarrels.
One evening, I went down to the nursery. Papillon lay with three of her pups, grief writ large on her face. Where could the two young ones possibly be?
“They have moved to new houses,” my mother revealed coldly.
My father and I had no inkling of their departure. My grief knew no end.
We managed to bring back one of the pups. Both Papillon and the pup rejoiced at their reunion. Will she reconcile to the loss of the fifth puppy? Papillon’s aggrieved cries late at night belied the hope.
The bitter pangs of separation infested my heart when two pups departed after a month. We retained Alpha, who had emerged first from the mother’s womb, and Abba. The reprieve would be short-lived. Alpha was a sportier copy of Lala. When the two young ones wrestled, I frequently pushed Alpha down to encourage Abba.
Abba and I tearfully bid farewell as she left for a faraway place. Papillon’s maternal instincts had faded away, and surprisingly Alpha was equally despondent to lose her. I regretted discriminating against Alpha and we shared our pain silently.
At seven months, Alpha was transforming into a graceful and powerful beast. She ventured into forests with her mother, visited villages with her father and shared a loving relationship with her aunt, Andromeda, the black Labrador. We enjoyed frequent walks to faraway hills and lakes and I forged a deep bond with Alpha.
“We need to recruit a pair of male Doberman dogs to balance our guarding squad. They are better than German Shepherd females,” my mother announced her weird logic one day and requested our gardener to take Alpha to his house, a couple of kilometers away.
“You can go to his house and see her whenever you want,” she offered me a clumsy commiseration.
I was aghast. All the space in the farmhouse darkened and my heart sank again: overwhelming sadness weighed it down. I felt physically weak and broken for a week.
On that moonless dark night, sleep was eluding me.We had tied up the dogs in the rear side of the house as a punishment for damaging plants. Suddenly, I was jolted out of my trance by a soul shattering commotion outside our gate, which is 400 feet away from the house. We rushed to the gate; a dog’s angry snarls and human screams churned our hearts. Three men, clothes torn, were lying down and Alpha was mauling them badly. They were thieves trying to take away expensive electrical fittings delivered outside the gate by a late evening delivery van. Alpha had escaped and had dashed to reunite with her friends. The unlucky hoodlums, unaware of the notorious dog squad, had chosen a wrong time and a wrong place.
My father held Alpha and my mother took her inside the gate towards the house lovingly and full of remorse, which kept drawing from her silent tears; no sooner had she wiped a drop seeping down her cheek, another followed.The endless trickle of tears assured me that we no more needed the Dobermans.