We’ve been a little caught up in a furore. ‘Caught up’ as in caught on the wrong foot as, for once, the furore has not been caused by us. ‘Caught up’ as in trapped in a maelstrom of voices over what really should not concern anyone beyond those closely involved. ‘Caught up’ as in catching our breath as we get confused, start to contemplate, and put things in perspective.
Surely humans have more on their plate, especially now, than a kahani ghar ghar ki. Sigh! Obviously not. Mom scorns the saas bahu / devrani – jethani soapy froth on the idiot box, so we know of it only through our grannies, but this one was all over. Even Mom could not switch it off. We don’t know the cast of characters – one human foible sounds like any other to us. Can’t remember whether we have mentioned it or not, but humans are not really creatures we respect for their intelligence. Apologies if we hurt anyone’s sensibilities; as always, we crave indulgence. Yet, nothing is a lost cause. The situation is redeemed because it has educated us: we have learnt a whole set of new words.
Racism. So that’s what it is called. We didn’t even know it had a name. This is what it is when rules are drawn up by housing complexes that pets are not allowed in lifts, that pets cannot walk within the complex. This is why non pet owners make life difficult for pet parents, complaining about barks and wagging tails. And this is what makes the evil ones throw stones at, kick and beat almost to death our friends on the streets. We understand now, but you’ll have to explain the human audacity to complain against something humans practise themselves.
Colour. We didn’t know humans are born according to a shade card. We certainly are not. In fact, people often think we cannot see colour. We must say, though, that we somehow always know that Big Sis has mixed up our lunch bowls, which Mom says she has matched to complement our fur, and make a beeline not for the spot our own bowls are usually placed in but the bowls themselves. It is only now that we learn that when someone says one of us has chocolate, melting eyes and the other has a pair of amber twinkling ones, we should not be smacking our lips and whiffling our noses for taste and smell, but imagining ‘colour’. We thwack our paws to our head that we spoke of ‘Ebony and Ivory’ as contrasting temperaments when we should have thought of the shade card. How you must have laughed at us!
Titles. As if names were not enough to complicate things for us, here is something new. You may think we do not know our names by the way we carry on with what we were doing before Mom screeches them out, but we do. We know perfectly well when you talk to us, we know when you call us, and we know when you talk about us. We just want to prove fooling you is puppy’s play. But titles is another matter altogether. If names are a result of love, titles are a matter of duty. You name us in love, but you give us a title and we are honour-bound, often at personal cost, to live up to it. Not sure we’d like that or that is a task everyone is equal to. Better to go by time-tested codes rather than be fooled by the glamour. Safer for everyone concerned. Can you imagine if Mom were given the title of Head of Mathematics? It would be an unmitigated catastrophe. Get the title if you fulfil the criteria; build the character to shoulder it, or do without it. We can’t understand subtly whingeing about its absence from one nostril while cutting yourself loose from its trappings with the other.
Money. It’s a term we have heard before, so this was not entirely new to us. Our Folks are mighty proud that they are ‘standing on their own feet’. We see nothing unusual in standing on our feet (we have four to stand on) but from their tone of voice, there seems to be something more to it. It took us a while to understand, but we are nothing if not clever and we figured it was something to do with this thing you call ‘money’. And then comes this whole talk that confuses the life out of us. Just when we have figured out that ‘standing on our own feet’ is good comes this soap opera which has people saying they want to do just that even as they complain of being cut off? Can you make your own mark independently and yet lean on others for ‘money’? Now do you understand how we were ‘caught up’? Totally confused about humans and what they say and do.
We always thought our Folks had a lot of ‘money’ when they gave out – what we thought were – great sums at the place they take us to when we don’t feel quite well and hungry enough, when we suddenly start scratching our ears and shaking our heads. We thought Dad had paid a king’s ransom for our spanking smart beds until we heard what the other dad was supposed to have paid for smartening a home for his kid, or other figures that we overhear are supposed to have been paid for the uproar-creating soap on the idiot box. The frothy soap seems to have got to us too, for a while at least. In all our years of existence we have never tried to grasp numbers as we tried till a few days ago! We have given ourselves a good shake and are determined not to get into that horror. Forget the furore and its froth and foam: no one has more than we have when we chase the new ball that jingles along the ground, when we hear the crackle of a new bag of treats being opened, when we drag our leashes to the Folks for our walk, when we clamber on to them to pin one or the other down with our brainy heads on their laps … ‘Money’ is not what makes you rich. Trust humans to think it does!
Washing dirty linen in public. Our absolute favourite. The best for the last. We have visions of bubbles, hose pipes and romping around in all that water before gaping audiences now that summer is almost here. Not that life is so literal. We understand that this is something humans often do, something in which life becomes like those saas bahu sagas Mom detests. Imagine if we house pets were to start doing this with real or imagined stories! Not that we’d ever, fiercely loyal that we are. In fact, we can’t see any flaw in our own Folks to broadcast to the world. Our Folks are the exception to the human race, more canine than human. So, while we like the image of washing linen, we will not even pretend to try and understand why humans do it. It’s as clean or as dirty to us as that white roll of stuff One of Us is constantly attacking and getting into trouble for.