Humans are unpredictable. Just as we get used to groans when the power goes down and understand that dark is unwelcome except at bedtime, humans go and switch lights off on their own and smile, clap and sing in the darkness before bedtime. We are thrown off balance: one of us (guess who?) paces up and down, barking nervously, trying to sniff out a criminal in the dark corners responsible for the darkness at the wrong time of the evening, and the other (guess who?) figures it’s exciting and pokes her head out between railings in the balcony to be a part of whatever’s going on. Mom tries to capture the latter on camera but has (of course) forgotten that black cannot be adequately captured in pitch darkness with just one flickering candle flame in the vicinity. So, now you know who the Nervous One is, and who the Enthusiastic One.
Yes, we know that light dispels darkness and evil and all that. Remember, we canines alone (without even counting the rest of our animal brethren) are intuitively more sensitive than the entire human race put together and just know a lot of things. But it makes us laugh at how suddenly humans have realised the good in the world. More importantly, they have seen that the world is cleaner, better without them. If you are closely acquainted with us by now, you know that we have, over the past few months, ever so often very subtly (for we are sensitive creatures) pointed out the folly of humans in thinking they rule the world and can do what they like with it. Humans who arrogantly thought they were the Supremo Specieo are currently cowering behind closed walls, afraid of a creature they cannot even see. The best line we have heard in the last one month is not ‘pride goes before a fall’ but that the true virus is not what has got humans locked down; it is the human race itself. It’s not nice to crow, but we will: “We told you so!” What we are trying to say here may or may not be understood by all because, on the one hand, humans can be thick in the head, and on the other, we are nothing if not sensitive and subtle in our choice of words.
Thanks to humans, we had social distancing imposed on us. We are earnest beings and took it seriously enough to stay away from you all this while. It is only today that our little guardian angel tapped our shoulder and gently explained that talking to you here is allowed. Of course, our evil spirit rolled all over, tears streaming down its face. “Earnest, indeed,” the Evil One blubbered, “Earnest as in stupid.” We snarled at this Evil One, but ineffectively. All dogs know from birth that over one shoulder is the Good Angel and over the other, the Evil One. Our birth moms tell us to be careful not to annoy either. They are the secret to our personalities and why we do what we do and when. It all depends on which shoulder feels the pressure more at any given time.
News spreads fast through the animal world grapevine. You cannot even begin to imagine how thrilled we are to hear how our animal world seems to have a free run of streets, how skies are bluer, how annoying noise and stink are absent, how peaceful and clean everything is. And how our Folks are at home, at our beck and call. Most of the time we are floating on this cottony cloud puff, being stroked by our Good Angel until the Evil One knocks us off it, sneering, “And pray, what do you think will happen once humans are let loose again?”
We don’t have an answer to that. Actually, we do, but we would rather ignore it for now and stay on that rosy-pink cottony cloud. If humans cannot learn through their own experience what is good and what is evil, what their sins are and what their blessings, who are we to say anything – except “We told you so!” But now things are in perspective: we know whichever shoulder feels the pressure , our good is way better than humans’ and our evil is nowhere close to theirs. And that is why we have revealed our closely-guarded secret of our Good Angel and our Evil One. A few samples of good and evil in our repertoire will prove what we mean about perspective. We leave it to you to decide whether the samples are prompted by our Good Angel or the Evil One. Tactfully, as prompted by the Good Angel, we stay mum about parallel good and evil in the human repertoire.
#1. Hop onto the bed and find curves to curl into when Folks lie down after a hard day’s work.
#2. Pounce onto a narrow folding bed in the open on which Mom is, thrilled to be lying on her back and counting stars in a clear sky after years. Aim to land on her tummy, creep and snuggle around, mummifying (we can still pun, you see) her into a frozen posture until she finally rolls off and goes back indoors muttering about how we can sprawl over a bed.
#3. Keep Big Sis company and ‘talk’ to her while she mops her bedroom to make the task go faster and smoother, keeping an eagle eye on how well she cleans the mop and pours the dirty water down the drain.
#4. Follow Mom around as she sweeps and mops in the wee hours and roll the ball to her feet to remind her that it is also our time for exercising with it on the terrace (no walks downstairs these days), also rolling it on the mound of dirt painstakingly collected with the thingy with the long handle and sometimes plopping it into the bin into which all the muck has been collected for her to fish out and clean in the middle of things. If things do not work out, plop onto the exact spot the dirt is being swept, snort into the pile of dirt to scatter it all over, and tip the bin which has all that muck put into it a second ago.
#5. Shadow the Folks every second, always ready to touch with the deliciously cold snout or to lick, acutely aware of every sigh, change in mood, look, smile because we know times are different for them. In the process, pop in and out of Big Sis’s client meetings as she works from home.
#6. Wait for Mom to rest her – er – self on the bed after prolonged period of standing at kitchen counters and sinks and with precise timing (the timing is important), settle at the foot of bed with that Look. If the How-can-you-lie-down-instead-of-play-with-me Look does not work, start whining. Or work up an orchestra: one Whines near ear, the other Looks across the bed.
#7. Be alert. Be vigilant. Chase away all that can add to the muck Mom and Big Sis will have to clean over and above your own mess.
And, most of all, it goes without saying: be the ONE (okay, TWO) thing(s) that make(s) a complete lockdown completely worthwhile: why else would anyone want to stay at home happily?