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Bhooloo

That particular day everything seemed to go wrong. I was in a foul mood, so, to avoid any kind of argument or disagreement, I decided to stay aloof. I went upstairs and
started cleaning and arranging my almirah. Suddenly, a photograph fell from my old photo-album. It was a black and white photograph of me, a six-year-old girl and my Bhooloo.

Bhooloo was my dog. I could remember vividly his coming to me, a cute fat little puppy. I was only five years old then. My father loved to buy fresh vegetables himself. He had taken me with him to the market that morning to buy vegetables. It was a very cold January morning. I was wearing a long overcoat. Papa was buying vegetables and I was looking at a fat puppy. And little later, I saw the puppy coming towards me. He looked like a chocolate ball rolling. He stopped near my feet, then looked up and started wagging his short, half tail. I could not resist myself and scooped him up. My long overcoat had enough space to hide him.
When we came home and I took the puppy out of my coat, my whole family was aghast. Dadi, my grandmother, did not like dogs. She started shouting hysterically. Ma was shocked that I touched such a dirty puppy and held it so close to my body. Dada, my nine-year-old elder brother, commented that it was just like me to find a mongrel puppy fit to be a pet. My college-going cousin brother promised me a terrier puppy if I let the dirty puppy go. In short, everybody was against keeping the puppy.
My cute little chocolate ball puppy looked so helpless and scared. He pressed his little body more close to my feet. I could not think of throwing him out of our house. I started crying. I promised that I would look after the puppy and he would not create any trouble to anybody. All this while, I was crying nonstop. I was determined to keep the puppy.
At last everybody relented a little. Dadi warned me that if the puppy created even a little trouble, he would go. Ma called our servant, Shankar, and ordered him to take the puppy out in the garden and bathe and clean it thoroughly with a carbolic soap. I was ordered to take a bath quickly. The puppy was then taken to the veterinary hospital for anti-rabies injection.
The puppy was of a strange mixed colour. He seemed to be wearing white socks as his paws were white. The colour around his eyes and ears were of chocolate with golden brown streaks. His face, chest and abdomen were white. Rest of the body was of a mixture of golden brown and chocolate colour. He seemed to understand my words and gestures. I pointed to him the places he should not go with my finger and he seemed to understand it. I forbade him to go to puja room, kitchen and Dadi's room pointing my finger to the places. He would look at me, then at my pointed finger and listen. After that he did not cross those invisible boundaries. Toilet training was also not very difficult. The only thing he took more time to learn was to locate the door to go outside. He would run to the doors of all the rooms before he could locate the correct door. That was the time when I named him 'Bhooloo' meaning forgetful. Everyone in the house wanted him to have a sophisticated name but he responded to the name 'Bhooloo' only. It gave me a secret pleasure.
In six months' time, Bhooloo grew up to be quite a big dog. When he stood, he reached up to Papa's waist. I could barely touch his head standing on my toes. His face was heavy and his look was ferocious. More so, as he now had chocolate-coloured stripes on golden-brown body. It made him look somewhat like a Royal Bengal tiger. God knows what was his lineage. He was extraordinarily strong for a dog. He looked ferocious but in reality he was very gentle and loving. He roamed freely in the house and never attacked anyone. His growl was sufficient to freeze any intruder. Still, for visitor's reassurance, we often chained him. He endeared himself to all by his behaviour. Even Dadi loved him. She distributed prasad to us after her puja. Bhooloo would also wait patiently for his share, a biscuit instead of sweet. If she forgot to give his share, Bhooloo would put one paw on the border of her puja room. Dadi would smile and give him a biscuit.
He was a favourite of Dada and his friends also. When they played cricket, Bhooloo would be an extra fielder for the fielding side, whichever the team be. The moment they shouted his name he would run and fetch the ball. Bhooloo
loved Papa and Ma and obeyed them, but he loved me most. He would see me off as I got into the school bus and when
I returned, I would find him waiting for me near the gate. He liked to go for walks with me. Bhooloo was so strong that with one jerk, he could make me fall, but he would never do that when I held his chain. If anyone shouted at me, he would growl and bare his teeth menacingly. If I were unhappy or cried, Bhooloo, my friend, would come and console me by licking me all over.
I can never forget that day in my life... On that day we had gone to a party. While returning, Papa's childhood friend, our Doctor Chacha had offered to drop us at our residence in his car as he had to attend a patient of that area. He stopped his car on the opposite side of our house. We were waiting to cross the road, when I saw our servant taking out Bhooloo for his walk. I could not resist myself. To reach them quickly, I ran across the road without looking carefully. A truck was coming from the left side and a car from the right side. The drivers of both the
vehicles tried to avoid collision with me. The car screeched to a halt a little away from me. The truck was slowing down but it was sure to hit me.

Suddenly, I saw Bhooloo jerk himself free from our servant. He came flying towards me with his chain dangling. He jumped at me with such a force that I almost flew and fell near the footpath. The impact of the fall stunned me for some time.
When I came to my senses, I saw people standing around
Bhooloo and me. His chain was stuck under the tyre of the truck and Bhooloo was very badly hurt. He was lying there looking at me. He could not get up and tears rolled down his eyes. Papa with the help of others brought a big
wooden plank and put Bhooloo on it. Doctor Chacha examined me to make sure that I was not hurt seriously. Ma was shocked and was crying.
Bhooloo was brought inside our compound and kept under a shady tree. I had some bruises but Bhooloo was badly hurt. He had internal injuries. Doctor Chacha called




his veterinary doctor friend for Bhooloo and then went on to attend his patient.
Bhooloo's hind legs and spine had fractures. The doctor suspected that two of his ribs also had fractures. He was in
great pain. He snapped and growled at anyone who tried to go near him. He allowed only Ma and me to go near him. The doctor told us to feed Bhooloo liquid food by syringe. He gave sedative to add to it so that Bhooloo could sleep and feel less pain. Bhooloo allowed only me to feed him.
According to the doctor, Bhooloo had no chance of recovery. It was decided that he would be given an injection the next day to make him sleep forever. I did not like the idea. I sat near him holding his head and caressing him. He grunted then slept due to the effect of the sedative.
I prayed to God for his speedy and natural death. It hurt me extremely to pray for my beloved best friend's death. I did not want him to be killed out of mercy. I wanted him to die naturally. I sat with him like that for a long time. Bhooloo passed away peacefully putting his head on my lap.
Bhooloo lived only for three years but as long as I live,
I will remember him. I loved him and he returned my love by sacrificing his life for me. I owe my life to him, my dear Bhooloo.

Bani Majumdar



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