And there he lay waiting on those who were never going to come back… a beat down senior Doberman… With nothing but bones and a broken heart…
They had promised they’d be back in a couple of hours, a promise they had made so many times before and always kept. No reason for Brutus (that was the Doggy’s name) to doubt his doting masters.
And dote they did. In fact in a funny way it was Brutus who had brought them together. When he was just a pup and the his mom’s owner had put up an ad on FB with pics of Brutus and his siblings, Mala and Ritwik had both been the first to inbox back. Actually that was not all they did, they sent him PMs and Profile Page messages, epistles that were almost professionally scripted entreaties to let them have one of the pups. And let’s not forget the addenda – Reasons why they deserved the pup. Detailed worksheets of how they would take care of cherish the canine. They only just stopped short of sending character certificates… actually they did track down mutual friends and get them to give sifarish on their behalf – so yeah they left pretty much no stone untouched.
Now Imran, the owner was more than happy to gratify both their wishes, after all there were four pups in all. The only problem was when Mala and Ritwik set eyes on Brutus, he was the one their hearts called out. And unfortunately both had landed up at Imran’s doorstep at the same time, surveyed the pups together and expressed their preference for Brutus simultaneously. Hence even the time honoured system of calling dibs could not be relied upon to solve the impasse.
Now Imran, being a busy kind of guy and one who hated messy situations gave the two of them 24 hours to come up with a compromise. If by then, no resolution was worked out and they were both vying for Brutus, the much in demand dog would be handed over to the next canine aficionado in line.
Mala and Ritwik spent every second of the next 24 hours together (barring loo visits of course). Breakfast gave way to lunch, lunch to high tea and in the same flow – dinner, midnight snacks and pre-breakfast nibbles. In between there were uncountable coffees, nimbu panis, naake ka chai and one pani-puri stop, one bhurji, one… but that’s not important. These precious hours weren’t about stuffing their faces but about convincing the other to let go of Brutus.
Ritwik came up with the tragic tale of how his Mom had always denied him a dog and he had spent his entire childhood making doing with an imaginary one, of course a Doberman. Mala talked about her Doberman pup, who had been run over by a truck when she was 8 and she had never had a dog since. Until she had seen Brutus and he reminded her of Lancelot.
Needless to say both were bullshitting their heads off.
Mala tried talking about how she had already begun knitting Brutus a sweater with his name on it. Ritwik rejoindered with details of the gourmet, customised for canines, dish he was creating in Brutus’ honour. Mala had never held a knitting needle in her hand. Ritwik’s culinary abilities consisted primarily of coming up with different ways of scorching water…
And so it continued till almost 5 in the morning. By then they had exhausted all subterfuges, all concocted stories. Mala confessed about how she had always nursed this dream of retiring to an island, a house overlooking the sea with her husband and a dog and one day kids. And how they would frolic on the sand and in the sea. Ritwik’s jaw dropped. He asked her if she was telling the truth or just phenkoing once again. She showed him the research she had done – how she had narrowed down the choice to two specific islands. One in Greece and the other in Jamaica. Ritwik hesitated and then showed her his sketches. They were exactly what Mala had described in words…
From that point on till their deadline ran out, everything that was shared was the truth. Vulnerabilities, fears, insecurities, heartbreak – including the fact that both were despairing of ever meeting the ‘right’ person and hence were opting for a canine companion.
I cannot put a specific time on the conjoining of the two hearts but by 8. 17 they were truly in love. I can say that for sure cause that was when Ritwik came up with his mad proposal of them leading a combined life – all three of them. At 8.18 Mala kissed him like she had never kissed anyone. At 8.49 (yes Mumbai’s traffic is fuck all even that early in the morning) they were at Imran’s door. By 9 the family was on its way to a life of shared happiness.
It took them 9 and a half more years to get to that house on the island. But they did. The day they had moved in for good and settled in all their stuff was the day Brutus had been abandoned.
They had set off to the department store, a good 22 minutes away, Ritwik, Mala and Eshna who was still in her mummy’s tummy and waiting for another 28 days before her popping out time came. Ordinarily Brutus would have accompanied them but Ritwik felt it was a new place, someone needed to guard the house and by default the onus fell on the fearsome Doberman.
It was the unkindest thing Ritwik could have ever done to Brutus and if he had but the gift of prescience he would never would have put his beloved dog in that position. Nay, he would have made sure Brutus was in the car with them, when the truck driver lost control, slammed into them and sent them over the cliff to an instant charred cremation…
The folks of the island being a kindly sort tried the best to adopt Brutus, draw him away from the house, feed him.. But he just growled and bared his fangs and kept them at bay. After all he was on guard duty. And his family would come back, if not soon, then one day. They had promised him.
He just couldn’t figure why it was taking so long…
Hope died first, then the heart broke and finally the body caved in. Brutus breathed his last, still maintaining his ceaseless vigil for the family he loved so much but never came back for him…
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