Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Bully Boy

I pounded the pavement beside my car impatiently. A hundred million thoughts about my current project ran through my mind, keeping pace with my furious strides. I had places to go....things to do....but my progress had been arrested by my driver, who seemed to have miraculously vanished while I had stepped out for a quick chore.

Patience has never been one of my virtues! Amidst the multitude of thoughts that crowded my head, there was a ember of anger directed at my absconding driver.

The ember soon became a blaze. In my anger, I failed to see an old fluffy dog sniffing about my feet.
But a moment later, my attention was arrested by a pair of soulful eyes, gazing up at me with hope shining through.
Food? She seemed to ask me. I haven't eaten in days, Lady, so how about you and me moseying over to that delicious kebab joint and sinking our fangs into succulent pieces of meat.
As I considered her offer, she thumped a rhythmic " Say Yes...Say Yes" chant with her straggly white and brown tail.

I have always been a sucker for the underdog, especially those of the canine kind. So, how could I resist the melting brown eyes set in her dear brown-white face? Not to mention the primeval tail thumps ? A few moments later, my friend Lassie was gleefully digging into a portion of tandoori chicken. And, the driver was yet to make an appearance.

I continued to muse and walk, this time without anger or impatience.
With Lassie by my side, I was willing to wait.
All at once, I felt a whizzing past my ankle. Lassie started.
It was a sharp stone!
Outraged, we both swung around. A few yards away stood a little boy in denim. He couldn't have been more than 8 and yet, his eyes glinted and gleamed with the unabashed malice of an adult. I suppose he expected Lassie to cower but she was emboldened by my presence and turned her attentions back to her meal. As I watched, the little brat hssted and psssted at her and distorted his face in the ugliest of expressions. When his bestial sounds & posturing failed to evoke a reaction of fear from her, he searched the ground for another object to fling at her. Anger welled up in me once more as the brat swooped down and threw another stone before I could get to him.
Behind me, I heard a yelp of pain and before me, a little mean spirit laughed with unholy glee.
So much for the innocence of youth....
My palms itched to box his ears.

But with remarkable restraint, I let him off with a glare and demanded to know how he would like to be teased and pelted with stones by someone bigger, stronger and meaner than he was. The brat glowered at me, obviously unimpressed by me. I could see Lassie look nervous as she felt the full impact of his gaze on her. As he picked the third stone, I drew myself to my full height and issued my sharpest No. A NO which brooked no refusal, holding veiled threats of aching ears and red rumps.

Much to my surprise, his face crumpled. And he burst into tears. Not of remorse as I was to find out.
As the child bawled, an obese woman draped in shocking pink emerged from the shadows. Holding the child protectively beside her, the amazon turned to me.
" Your son?"
" Haan* my son..what did you do to him? why is he crying?" She demanded angrily of me.
The sobs in the background grew in volume.
" Your son was teasing that dog and hurled 2 stones at it. I stopped him at his third"
" So what? It is only a stray dog, isn't it?"
" It does not mean that your son or you have the right to stone it"
" You are not the owner of the dog, na? When my son hurts your dog, you come and complain to me. But otherwise..."
" Otherwise what?" I demanded icily
A few people around us slowed to watch the battle of the amazons.
" What is this? You yell at a strange child because he threw stones at a strange dog? Have you no shame for scolding a child? People all over India stone dogs. In fact, they run over them also and you are making a fuss about a child throwing a stone? Why don't you go reform someone else?"
" I did not yell at your child, although what he really deserves is a sound spanking for his cruelty to a weaker creature...."
But before I could complete my tirade, a bearded old man interjected "That is our dog and your son had no business throwing stones at it. "
As the two of us gaped at the good Samaritan, he continued " I am the owner of the Kebab shop there and Brownie is our shop dog."
" But she has no collar or tags..How will anyone know it is not a stray? So, you cannot blame a child for not differentiating between a stray and a pet"
" Madam, It does not matter. Your son knew that Brownie did not belong to him, didn't he? So why did he tease and hurt it?"

The vision in pink was flustered. But I was now seething with indignation at the old man.

How could he assume that a creature could be harassed as long as it was 'owned' by the harasser? As I composed my words of protest, he directed a gentle smile my way. "Madam, some people do not understand the value of beings - humans or four legged ones. Or the emptiness of the concept of ownership of people and animals. You and I could have argued with her all evening but she would never understand. So I had to speak in the language she understood. Let us hope that this will make her and her son think a second time when they are tempted to stone a strange animal"

As the lady beat a hasty retreat with her now silent son in tow, I could not help but ask the old man if Brownie was indeed his shop dog. Once again, that gentle smile.

"No, she isn't." He replied. "We feed her everyday and she spends time around the shop. But does she belong to us? Not at all."

As I drove away leaving Lassie contentedly devouring the last of her meal, I was in a quandary.

Was the old man right to have taken the ownership route?

Or should I have stood my ground and argued about animal rights?

Which took precedence - the cause or the effect?

I will never know, will I?


Roopa said...

I think the old man was right Rekz. Some people don't even understand human rights, let alone animal rights. So somebody has to speak their language of ownership and possession. Anyway, it is any day better to at least pretend to be owned and loved and have rights than be an orphan and have nothing. But you know what I admire in you most? It is that spirit of idealism :).

Miaow!!! said...

:( :( :(
The only thing I wanted to argue with the man and the lady was about bullying and that knows no ownership.
Sometimes it is difficult holding on to the ideals but here's the thing. If one idealist keeps riding out to fight the dragons, then perhaps..just perhaps...another will listen and a third will speak up too...Even better, the idealist may find another kindred soul and who knows, it can become a tidal wave which can partly correct some of the imbalances in our world today..
Too much of idealism again?
:) :)

Anonymous said...

That was really nice, Rekz. I mean, the way you took the efforts to care for the little doggy. Children can be really cruel sometimes. I think some of them are just born that way - mean and bullying in nature. What kind of adults would they grow into? I just wish the dog had bitten the bully boy off. That would teach him a lesson.

Arch said...

...some say there are no bad children...only bad parents...i think they might be right!!!

Miaow!!! said...

That's what I think too, Arch...
Pal, I was going to make a similar comment about bad parents but Arch beat me to it :) :)
I wished the virago in pink had been at the receiving end of Brownie/Lassie's teeth but then, in a way, I am glad that did not happen because I am sure the consequences for my canine friend might have been tragic!!! Noone would have seen an old dog pushed too far..They would have only seen a stray running wild
:( :( :(

Ganga Dhanesh said...

yup, i am sure the mom and kid won't forget this in a long time to come...but then again, I wonder...

shail said...

Attagirl Rekz! Loved the way you stood up for your lassie!

Anonymous said...

Way to go girl.. wish there were more like you to stand up for those souls .. who cannot speak. I wonder if the boy would have dared to throw a stone at a doberman, (i know there are no strays like that .. still a thought)!

Sid Life said...

WoW!!! Appreciate the way you have transported me to the scene of the event...
I think it does not matter if there is any ownership or not. The point is do we value and respect individuals, whether they are humans or not. Today we ill treat a four legged, am sure the day is not far to ill treat your own breed... Agree with Arch on parenting..
Spirit of Values have to be kept and stood for... you did the right thing.

Miaow!!! said...

Thank you Sid, for dropping by. For lending your voice to the cause. And, for the vote of confidence.
You put my thoughts into words so well.
But, I can't help but think that the dialogue between the obnoxious parent and me[ if one can call it that] might have deteriorated into a cat fight if it had not been the old man.

Miaow!!! said...

Shail Thank you. Something tells me that you would have done the same too.
:) :)

Anyonymous, I wish I knew who you were. That was such a pertinent thought - would he have stoned a dob? I think not. Unless the dob was chained at an arms lenght or was confined in a cage.
:) :) :)


I was very young (10-11) then and I was shattered beyond words to see few teenage boys harassing a Blind Uncle who used to come around in our vicinity and sit on a public bench in the evening. I was as usual sitting by my open window watching the drama unfold and realized how helpless I was to run across and save that poor old man from being parade naked by those hooligans who pulled away his pajama string. At last I feel God answered my prayer and a group of mill workers came by and chased those boys away and helped the old man to cover his nudity.
There are more many kinds of violations happening in our society and our community living lessons are no longer being taught at schools..