The Stray Dog: Shankari

Somewhere in the east of the world, a little girl talked to her imaginary friends while walking through her farmhouse. She was jumping around while also talking with the flowers, the birds, and the trees. Finally, she hugged a dog named “Shankari.” The girl asked the dog, “How is my little girl today?” Have you eaten anything yet? Let’s go for a walk together”.

Shankari was a stray dog, but he always ate food at the girl’s house. The dog always slept on the girl’s porch during the night. The dog always barked at the stranger, but Shankari always allowed the familiar faces to pass through. Without even opening his eyes, the dog knew who was familiar or a stranger. He had a sharp ability to smell and hear, which helped him know who was familiar or a stranger. He wouldn’t have stopped barking if some stranger attempted to enter his territory. The girl always wondered how this dog knew who was a friend or a foe or a stranger.

The little girl asked her uncle with curiosity, “Chachu, how Shankari knows who is a friend or an enemy.” her cousin laughed at her before her uncle’s response, “How would you know that your dog knows about friends and foes? You don’t even know if your dog is a boy or a girl.”

She said carelessly, “Do I care if my dog is a boy or girl? All I need to know is that he is a good dog. Then suddenly came into her mind, “Chachu, Is this bad boy (her cousin) right? Is Shankari a boy or a girl? Her gentleman uncle corrected her, “Yes, Binu is right. Shankari is a male dog”.

She laughed, “Oh my gosh, chachu, I have not known since the past year if Shankari is a male dog. I have given him a female name. I should have given him a male descendant name, “Shankar.” I am silly.”

Now, the girl turned toward the dog, “I am so sorry, boy. I don’t have any idea that you are a boy, but I will still call you ‘Shankari”. How does this moron know you better than me? But I don’t care who you are. All I care about is that you are a good dog”. She continued talking with the dog as she walked towards her farmhouse.The dog was not allowed inside the house. Her mother had this strict rule which the girl always had to obey. She was allowed to play with the dog outside the house. She was allowed to feed the dog. The dog had permission to walk with the girl every day to the farmhouse. In reality, he was not her dog.

The dog was not vaccinated. Not sure if her uncle had found the dog or if the dog had decided to meet uncle. Her uncle fed the stray dog every day. The dog has grown up around her uncle. The dog had lived inside the panchayat house. Her uncle used to feed the dog, but her uncle had not adopted the dog either. Her uncle just fed the dog. The little girl had met the dog when she accompanied her uncle to the panchayat house. Nobody had given a name to this stray dog yet.

“Oh my gosh, she is a cute pup. I will call her Shankari”, the little girl said as she looked at the pup. The brown pup was so cute. How could she know what breed he was when she did not know if the dog was male or female? It did not matter to her. The only thing that matters to her is, “Shankari is a cute puppy who loves the people around her.”After their first meeting, the dog and girl developed a special bond. The dog always followed the girl where she went. The dog also knew his limitation that he was not allowed to go inside the house. There were many other stray dogs in the street, but the girl liked only Shankari. Maybe Shankari was an orphan, and nobody had seen the dog’s mother. Shankari was only her uncle’s dog.

Often, the little girl felt sorry and told the dog, “I am sorry, Shankari. My mum is a mom. She is a clean freak, so she won’t allow you to go inside the house”. Shankari was a stray dog, but he was so loyal to the people who fed him. The girl noticed the dog came to her only when her uncle was not around or uncle had given him a command okay to play with the girl. The little girl often said, “well, I know that you are not my dog. You are my uncle’s dog. My chachu is mine, so technically you are mine too”. One morning, the little girl heard an overhead announcement that the Govt employees were on their way to kill all stray dogs. Some people did complain about stray dogs.

The little girl thought, “Humans are greedy and they do not like to share anything with anybody.”

One of the children said, “How we could save all of them.”

Her cousin said, “At least we should try.”

The girl called all her friends and asked them, “Let’s save all the dogs today.”

Well, it was not an easy task hiding the stray dogs. So, all the children had brainstormed and came up with a perfect plan. Next thing, the little gang members had come into action. They tied all the dogs with a rope. In the next half an hour, all the stray dogs and the children disappeared too. Later on, the govt employees searched for stray dogs, but they went back without finding any dogs.

They hid all the dogs into people’s barns and the cornfields. Keeping the dogs quiet was a challenge, but the gang members were the clever kids, so they did not forget to grab the food from their kitchen.
In the evening, both dogs and children were back together on the street again. The dogs rested on the green grass under trees when the children played volleyball in govt driven empty hospital’s front yard.

The little girl was happy to save Shankari.
Later, the girl went to attend boarding school. The girl never forgot to ask about the dog when her family visits her.

One day the girl’s mother came to visit her. She broke the bad news to the girl that Shankari was acting out, so everybody had decided to send Shankari away. An unknown beggar has adopted Shankari. The girl felt so bad. The girl asked sadly, “Does my chachu know about it.”

Mother replied, “Yes, he knows.”
The girl felt sad and bad. On weekends, the girl came to visit home. She found Shankari sitting on her porch. The girl got excited, “mum, you told me Shankari is gone, but he is right here.”

Somehow, Shankari had found her way back to the town. The dog often continued to follow the girl whenever she had visited the town. But Shankari spent most of his time around her uncle. However, the dog had never forgotten the girl either.

Of course, Shankari had a special sense. The girl could not believe the day her uncle died. Early in the morning, the girl and her cousins had entered the town quietly. Both the girl and her cousin were busy remembering their uncle’s legacy while the uncle’s lifeless body was laid wrapped with a white sheet on the back seat of the car. As the car entered the town, Shankari chased the car, barking loudly. The girl looked at Shankari but told the driver to continue to drive. Shankari did his best to keep up with the speed of the car. Sometimes he ended up in front of the car and sometimes on the side of the car, and sometimes just ran behind the car. The girl kept ignoring the dog. The girl did not dare to tell the dog, “Your master or your protector is no more.” The girl was afraid of the dog. The girl was afraid she would hurt the dog’s feelings.
But the dog was smart. He had sensed the loss of his loving master. The dog had already entered the porch while the car was still not reached in front of the house yet. Her mother had dropped dishes after she looked at the dog first and then the teen girl’s face. The girl and her cousin both did not know how to tell the family, “we have lost the saint of our family today.” But Shankari had already announced the death of his master. The dog had sat under his master’s bed quietly. Many familiar and strange faces came to say goodbye to her uncle, but Shankari did not bark at the strangers today. The girl was more shocked to see her father patting the dog’s head.

Shankari did follow her master to the cremation ceremony and then his final prayer. After that, the girl went back to the boarding school. Mother went to visit the girl again and told her, “Shankari has lost appetite, but your father tries his best to feed him, so don’t worry about the dog.”

The girl did not believe it, “Are you joking, mum? Dad, you, and the dog are all under one roof”. The girl left her sentences incomplete because she knew how much her father had loved his younger brother. In the end, her mother had allowed the dog to enter the house.

After a couple of months, Shankari also went to heaven to join his master. Shankari lived his dog life beautifully. The mother told her daughter when she visited her again, “The dog died peacefully a couple of days ago. Your father was unwell and weak, but he still went along with the servant to do proper dog burial”.

Many decades had passed. The girl had moved from one side of the world to another end. She is a mother herself now. In the summer of 2014, she visited to see her ailing mother. She told her mother, “Mum, I do have a dog. His name is Bandit, but I call him Banny. He is one of my four thieves who love stealing things from me. Mum, Banny is allowed to enter the house. He sleeps on the bed. He sits on the sofa. He is the owner of the house. He is just a clean freak. He won’t sit without a carpet or mat”. The dying mother just smiled at her daughter’s conversation.

Many decades are gone, but she still remembers Shankari and his loyalty and love towards the master.



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