Friday, September 12, 2014

Remembering Shikari

Vartanama, Sep '14
By Pawan Dhall

Was it 1977 or 1978? Shikari must have been 10 when he was reportedly shot dead by the Hind Motors Colony administration in a ‘cleansing drive’ – or was it something to do with the Emergency? Funnily, I too was around 10 at that point of time. But by then I had moved with my family to Kolkata from Hind Motors and Shikari was gradually receding into a memory. When our family friend broke this news to us, everybody was stunned into silence for a few moments. I don’t remember crying for him, but Shikari’s image in my mind became vivid and since then has stayed as that of a childhood friend first I lost touch with, and then lost with a finality that can’t be questioned.

The author playing with Shikari as a two-year old in 1970. Photo credit: Usha Dhall

In many ways Shikari, a street dog, was more my elder brother’s pet. But we shared a bond too, one strong enough to be fossilized over the years in my mental friends list. Today, the memory of Shikari, however faded, has a certain assuring quality about it. He existed. I loved him, he loved me. That’s one honest relationship that can’t be sullied by anything. How often are we able to say that for our relationships with other humans?

This issue of Varta takes a serious as well as light hearted look at doggie love, but more than that really at what value such relationships have in our lives. As relationships, they go beyond the act of keeping a pet, and what never fails to amaze me is the ability that dogs have for loyalty, affection and I daresay acceptance. Give love; take love – lots and lots of melting eyes, wet-nosed, floppy-eared, wagging-tailed, hair-shedding, panting, excited love. What a simple yet real equation, it’s almost queer! If only we could feel even a fraction of such warmth or openness for queerness in humans.

Check out what Dog-Mom Vahista Dastoor has to say through some delightful photographs in Love is a Four-legged Word, and in Living with a God . . . err . . . Dog, Dr. Tirthankar Guha Thakurta goes in-depth into how to take good care of the dog(s) in your life. Have a woof of a time reading this issue (that four-letter word just had to be said)!

Pawan Dhall aspires to be a rainbow journalist and believes in taking a stand, even if it’s on the fence – the view is better from there!

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