Memsaab! The voice seemed to drift in from far away; yet a low constant rap on the door woke me up from my deep slumber, that late summer afternoon. It was that time of the midday when the sun was overhead and the heat oppressive. Most four-legged creatures too sought relief from the harsh sun and lay motionless in the dry undergrowth of trees and bushes. Except for my German shepherd Diva, who, as was her habit, lay sprawled out under the bed in the children’s room; after all the boys were back from boarding school!
German shepherds are one-master dogs and so was Diva. The love of her life was my husband, with my elder son Armaan, coming a close second. Her equation with Ashray, my younger son, was however a different story all together. He was her rival, always managing to smuggle into his dad’s arms before she could do so and the only reason she tolerated him was because he would keep feeding her tidbits the entire day.
Memsaab! This time there was a sense of urgency and panic in the voice and it was loud enough to invade my peaceful slumber. Drowsy and disoriented, I opened the door and found my terror-stricken bearer, Assamiya, urging me towards the children’s room.
A frightening sight awaited me
I quickly followed him and froze at the sight that awaited me; Ashray stood there, still as a statue, blood gushing out of a big wound on his left cheek, tears threatening to spill over. Diva sneaked out from between my legs and ran away while Armaan, voice choked, explained that Ashray had slid under the bed and had probably tugged at Diva’s tail which had made her turn around and snap at him. Ashray must have been too close and was bitten.
The bawarchi had by then informed my husband who rushed home from office, his face red with fury. He took one look at Ashray, picked up a cricket bat lying nearby and stormed off to find Diva who had found a hiding place under one of the kitchen cabinets.
The scenario was something like this.
Armaan had taken Ashray to the washroom and was splashing water on his wound (which I learnt later on, was the recommended first aid procedure to be followed for dog bites). Alongside he was issuing quick instructions to Assamiya to tell the driver to get the car out.
I was taking turns running from washroom to bedroom, bedroom to washroom, mumbling incoherently, “How will the doctor fill up that hole? Had Diva eaten up that chunk of flesh?? It was his face; what on earth will happen now? He was just 12 and yet to meet his first girlfriend! Who will even look at him?!! We needed to rush to the hospital and I may have to spend the night there; where’s that stupid maid? She needs to pack us a set of extra clothes, not to forget our toothbrushes and slippers!!”
My husband on the other hand, could be heard whacking away at Diva who was yelping loudly. Ashray, through his pain, could be heard imploring his elder brother, “Bhai tell dad not to hit Diva”. Later on, the bawarchi told us that Diva had squeezed herself into a tight ball and so the cricket bat had made contact with the corners of the kitchen cabinet, sparing her. She had cried out of fear, not pain, but my husband had been too blinded with anger to realise the futility of his actions.
The 15-year-old took charge
It was Armaan who put an end to the mayhem. “Get in to the car,” he hollered. So we jumped into our vehicle and sped away to the hospital. The doctor promptly whisked away Ashray, while the three of us spent anxious moments praying to God to show mercy on Ashray. Between my husband and me, we kept thinking of the worst that could happen. Armaan, who had shown maturity that belied his age–he was only 15 at that time–finally let loose! He gave us a piece of his mind; admonishing us for our hysterical behavior and we sheepishly realised that he was right.
An hour later, Ashray was back with us, his cheek heavily bandaged. It had required 15 stitches to sew up the gaping wound. There was an unspoken question hanging like a Damocles sword over our head. Our worst fears came true when the doctor said that the scar would remain for life, but our spirits were somewhat lifted when he said that we could opt for plastic surgery later on.
Diva is family
When we returned home, the first thing Ashray did was to call out to Diva but she didn’t come. Armaan called and so did I, but she was nowhere to be seen. I took a step forward to go to the kitchen but a sharp NO from my husband brought me to a halt. He was still livid with her and said “Diva will have to go” but Ashray begged and pleaded and said Diva was family. We couldn’t disown her like this. He took it all onto himself, saying that he it was his fault; he had provoked her.
Finally, my husband gave in, whistled, and a second later we could hear Diva shuffling towards him. She lay prostrate on his feet as though begging for forgiveness. He gathered her in his arms and soon we were back to being one happy family.
Diva passed away four years later, breathing her last in my husband’s arms. He dug her grave himself, carried her, laid her to rest and gently covered her with his coat. A part of us went with Diva, but she left behind lovely memories that we cherish till date. As for Ashray, he still has the scar. He says it reminds him of Diva. Moreover, he feels it gives him a macho look and is a great conversation starter, especially with the ladies!
We now have Devil with us, but to tell you who he bit and what happened thereafter, you’ll have to read part two.
This is the first part of this article. To know who Devil bit, read the second part here.