Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Name is Sherry Karve (Part 2) by Vikram Karve

(Part 2)

On Christmas Day, and when I fetched the Times of India from the paperboy early in the morning and gave it to my father, he began reading to my mother something about a new pet saloon started in Pune at Salunke Vihar where dogs are pampered, groomed, massaged, styled, pedicured and everything else like the beauty parlours you humans go to. It’s run by a girl called Pooja Karve, and that’s good, because I am a ‘Karve’ too – Sherry Karve – and I’m sure Pooja Karve will give her canine namesake special loving care and chic grooming. I’m going to tell my father and mother that I need some sophisticated exotic pampering and they must take me Pooja Karve’s grooming parlour soon for the complete works and I’m not going to tolerate their rustic style rough and tough bathing and brushing anymore. After all I’m a delicate girl and I want to look and feel good.

Now my father is calling me for playing the “bone-game” but before that let me tell you about my home. In front is a huge garden, or rather an orchard, with all types of trees and bushes, and a lush green lawn on which I love to frolic, prance and roll upside down, and lots of flower beds which I love digging up to my mother’s horror. I love digging up the mud – it’s so tasty – and there is plenty of it in the spacious kitchen garden behind the house where I create havoc digging up to my heart’s content, and the only thing I’ve spared are the tomatoes and some horrible tasting leaves called Alu because they itch.

I’m lucky – they don’t tie me up but leave me free to roam and play around as I please. And there is so much to explore and investigate, in the nooks and corners of our verdant garden with plenty of trees, bushes and hedges. There is so much to sniff, so much to dig, and so much to chase - squirrels, mongooses and birds to chase. The cats have disappeared though; ever since the day I almost caught one.

When I want to go out I tap the front door with my paws and they let me out, and when I want to come in I peep through the windows, and if no one notices I bang the door from the outside or make entreating sounds.

My father has warned me not to leave the compound, but sometimes I can’t resist the temptation, and slither under a gap I’ve discovered under the barbed wire and go across to meet my neighbour Sigmund, a five year old pure breed Golden Retriever, in case he is tied outside. He’s an old fogey, quite a boring condescending pompous fellow, and I hate his snooty and snobbish manner, but he’s the only canine company I have so I really don’t have much of a choice. Also, the poor guy is locked inside or tied up most of the time so I have to do my bit to cheer him up. If he’s inside I bark and sometimes he returns my bark, but most of the time he is quite stuck-up and gloomy. The only time he seemed to be all excited and active, and was desperately chasing me all over, was when I had my first chums a few days ago, but he had no chance as my suddenly overprotective father was guarding me like a shadow, never taking me off the leash when I was outdoors. Those were the only few days he totally restricted my freedom, and when I managed to slip away across the fence once, all hell broke loose, and I was located, chased, captured and soundly scolded for the first time. I felt miserable, and sulked, but then my father caressed and baby-talked me and I knew how much he loved and cared for me, and it was all okay. And during those sensitive days he used to specially pamper me and take me for long walks, on a tight leash, keeping an eagle eye and stick ready in his hand for those desperate rowdy rascal mongrels who suddenly appeared from nowhere and used to frantically hang around and follow me, looking at me in a lewd restless manner. Once they even had the gumption to sneak into the compound at night, and growl outside, till my father chased them away.

When I was small, and my gums itched, and my milk teeth began to break through, I could not resist chewing up anything I could lay my teeth upon – like shoes, slippers, clothes, toothbrushes, furniture . I especially loved my father’s favourite Kolhapuri kapshi chappals which were so soft and yummy. So my father bought me a chewy bone which, it said on the wrapper, was guaranteed to save everything else. I don’t know why, but I secretly buried the bone in a hole I dug below the Mango tree, and I used to dig it out when I thought no one was looking, chew it a bit, and bury it in some other secret place.

One day my inquisitive mother found out, and she dug up the bone when I was sleeping and hid in under the pomegranate tree. When I didn’t find it, at first I was confused, maybe it was my neighbour Sigmund, but then he was too old for chewy toy bones. Then I tracked the bone down with my nose, and when I spied my mother giggling and grinning like a Cheshire cat, I knew who was the culprit. This started the “bone-game”. First they (the humans – my mother and father) would give me the bone, and after I hid it they would rush out into the garden and dig it out – then they would hide the bone (after locking me in the house so I could not see) and make me find it, which I did using my nose.

I wondered how they found the bone so fast, and one day I caught them spying crouching behind the hedge when they thought I wasn’t looking and the mystery was solved. So now I first let them see where I’m hiding the bone, and when they complacently and confidently go inside thinking they know everything, I dig out the bone and hide it some other place which they do not know and then watch the fun as they search in vain. Then when they go inside, and my father asks me to get the bone, I run out and get it, for which I earn a tidbit.

The way these humans act sometimes, I really wonder who is more intelligent – they or we? Apart from my mother and father, who I’ve told you about, there are some more humans who live in my house – my sister, my brother, grandmothers, and a grandfather – and I’ll tell you all about them next time. And I’ll also tell you about the long exploratory walks I go on with my father in the jungle near Mula River, and more about my childhood pranks. And if you’ve missed my first writing about my early life, I’m putting that piece below for you to read.

Happy New Year,
See you soon,

To be continued…

Copyright 2006 Vikram Karve

(Part 1)

My name is Sherry. I am a naughty young girl, I’m over seven months old and I live with my family in a lovely spacious bungalow surrounded by plenty of greenery.

I wake up early in the morning, jump off my sofa, go to my father’s bed, rub my cold wet nose against his hand and give him a lick. He grunts and growls and opens his sleepy eyes, and the moment he sees me his face lights up and he lovingly caresses me and says, “Good Morning, Sherry,” and gets up from bed and opens the main door to let me jump out into the garden, do my ‘little job’ at my favorite place near the mango tree, generally dig in the soft morning mud a bit and sniff around to find out if there are any new morning smells, not forgetting to run and welcome the milkman the moment he comes on his cycle.

When I return I find that my father is back in his bed and my mother is up and about. She pats and cuddles me and goes about her business making tea in the kitchen while I loiter around the house. She surreptitiously sneaks to the bedroom and slyly hands over a tidbit to my half sleeping father under the blanket when she thinks I am not looking. I pretend not to notice, as I do not want to spoil their fun. Earlier, when I was small and impatient, I used to snuffle out the tidbit from my father’s hand, but this spoilt his fun and he became grumpy, and now that I am a mature young girl well experienced in the ways of the human world I have realized that it is better to act dumb and let these humans think they are smarter than me. So I go outside, sit down and put on a look of anticipation towards the gate and pretend not to notice my mother hiding and peeping through the corner of the window and giggling to herself.

The moment the newspaperman comes on his cycle and shouts ‘paper’, I rush to the gate and fetch the newspaper in my mouth, gripping it just right between my teeth, and hold it up to my horizontal father, who gets up, takes the paper from me and gives me the dog-biscuit he’s been hiding in his hand, as my mother, who has rushed behind me, watches me with loving pride in her eyes. My brother and my sister, who till now were fast asleep in the other room, call out my name, and as I dart between their beds wagging my tail, they both hug and cuddle me all over saying, “Good Morning, Sherry. Sherry is a good girl!” Everyone is cheerful and happy and my day has begun!

I love my family, even though they are humans; and I love my house, my surroundings, the place I stay, the life I live – but before I tell you all that, let me tell you where I came from.

My ‘ birth-mother’ is a ferocious Doberman who lives in a bungalow in Kothrud and my ‘dog-father’ is unknown, though they suspect it may be the Labrador next door (but the vet wanted proof, so in the column against breed he wrote ‘Doberman X’). I was a sickly weakling, hardly a month old, the only girl, last of the litter of eleven, and the owners were wondering what to do with me. Nine of my handsome brothers had already been selected and taken away, and the owners wanted to keep the tenth, the most beautiful and healthy of them all. They had kept me all alone separated from my ferocious Doberman mother who was growling menacingly in a cage nearby. No one wanted me and I could hear people whispering how ugly and weak I was and I wondered what fate lay in store for me. It hurt to be unwanted and when I heard people wanting to send me away to a farmhouse, or ‘dispose’ me of, I felt frightened when I wondered what was going to be my destiny.

One evening a few people came over and a gentle woman with kindness in her eyes looked at me, and on the spur of the moment lovingly picked me up, and the way she tenderly snuggled me I felt true love for the first time. This was my new mother. They got into a car and drove across Pune, past Aundh, across the river, till they reached a bungalow. The kind woman was wondering what her husband’s reaction would be. It was dark. I was scared and cuddled up snugly my mother’s arms to feel safer.

Suddenly I found a tough-looking bearded man staring at me. Shivering with fear I looked back at him in terror as he extended his hands towards me. But the moment he held me in his large cozy hands, caressed me lovingly, and put his finger tenderly in my mouth, I felt protected, loved, safe and secure. This was my new father and he had already decided my name – Sherry – the same name of his earlier canine ‘daughter’. [‘Sherry’ means ‘beloved’ – not the wine drink you are thinking about!].

“She was destined to come here,” my mother said.

“Yes,” My father said feeding me warm milk.

They made a nice warm bed for me in a basket and put it below theirs. And as I drifted into sleep, they both fondled me with their hands. I felt so wonderful and happy for the first time in my life. I had found my true home and my family.

I am feeling quite sleepy now and I’ll end here and have a nap. If you want to know more about me, my delightfully mischievous life, and the naughty things I do, please let me know and I’ll tell you all about it!

To be continued…

Copyright 2006 Vikram Karve

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