Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dog Lovers - Azara Feroz Sayed

Came across a short story (see tail end of this post) and could understand the emotions of being spouse of a Dog Lover. I grew up without having any pets and never gave them much of a thought. Overtime, in Feroz's company, I learnt the pleasure of being with dogs, cats, birds or animals while we were outdoors and yes animal planet!

I recollect our second meeting in Pune University campus. Feroz and me were having dabba lunch in an open space and were joined by a stray dog and soon there was a dog party around! Feroz was busy talking with them and feeding them, ensuring everybody gets equal share, shoving away the dog not letting others eat, helping a clumsy one to have his share. He was having such a good time with them and I thought this man can be happy in any circumstance if his pleasures are derived from the small things. If he spends so much time with dogs because he loves them - I just have to ensure his love for me never fades and everthing else he will be fine!

I wish, I had access to the picture on our Andaman trip with almost a dozen dogs on Feroz. We had been to the beach to see the sun rise and there were a few stray dogs. Feroz patted one of them and soon in a matter of minutes there were about a dozen dogs all over Feroz. We forgot we were there for the sun rise!

When he is around with dogs, he calls them with names and talks to them as if talking to people. I am a glucose biscuit fan and most of my share would be for the dogs or rather I would get a share from the dogs. He buys bread, biscuits for feeding the dogs in his college campus. At times, he feeds his entire lunch, dinner of chicken, meat (Feroz's favourite) to dogs, birds. His best meal is the one spent with feeding the dogs, birds. Read the story below to know what that means to a spouse!

I was a person who would be scared of dogs and not get close to I want to pat them and talk to them! It started with Feroz telling me stories that dogs smell if a person is scared i.e. when we are scared our body gives out a special kind of odour that dogs use to get to the scared person all the more. Knowing that, I started being relaxed letting the dogs know I am OK when I wouldn't be! Feroz showed me spots where an animal should be stroked and it will be comming to you to do that again and again. I saw it work on a huge texas bull too!

The same is true with birds too. Feroz taught me the pleasure of bird feeding and talking to them. Watching the bold sparrow fight a pigeon for a piece of bread - with Feroz's commentary on one of the sparrow who was eating for a long time is going have to have stomach upset etc. I love to hear him talk with them and provide me the entertainment of a movie in the outdoor - without spending hours!

I remember what a spoil sport I was when I didn't let Feroz enjoy his bird feeding by pestering him for dropping the food on the floor of the terrace of a posh hotel. I thought others wouldn't like it - as sparrows, pigeons came over and there would be food left over too on the floor if the birds didn't finish. Feroz went on with his feeding without listening to me. He cleaned the floor with tissues after he was done. I missed on all the pleasure that day due to my worrying about how annoying it would be for others to see Feroz talking and feeding to the birds!

Now I don't pass a bird with talking to it!

The List
He read the note, folded it, tucked it in his pocket. He’d found it by the roadside. He’d hoped for something more interesting, not: lemons, dish detergent, butter, Scones. The handwriting was old-fashioned, an old lady’s, limp and loose; one could see the well-formed characters but they’d lost definition, the hand a bit shaky.

He’d been hoping for something more revealing, revelatory, a sign or portent:
Meet me at the boathouse at 2:00pm
You will soon receive an unexpected visitor.

He thought no more about it. Just a shopping list—someone else’s unmet needs. What were his own? What would his list look like?
a love relationship
a more rewarding job
a goal and destination…

He hadn’t always been so without definition. His figure had once cut a sharper shape. He hadn’t always had his father’s ailing health to look after…

The smell of pine sap reached him. He was walking past the park where he and Elena had first met, she with her little dog—Clémence, she called it—which seemed to him too much of a person’s name. But then Elena and Clémence were awfully bonded, and that was the problem, wasn’t it--it left no room for him—how, after all, does one compete with cute little fluff ball of fur? Something that promised loyalty, fun and affection, yet never really demanded anything—just some food and caressing—a minimum of fuss.

Of course, Elena thought him crazy—jealous of a Yorkshire Terrier. But he was. She couldn’t see that her devotion was extreme, her attachment unhealthy. Instead it was: “You’re the one with the problem! Unable to attach yourself to anyone!”

There was perhaps some truth to the statement, he could admit, which showed finally that he was much more reasonable than she—who could admit nothing, nothing was ever wrong with her or Clémence—how quickly she flew to her dog’s defense! “She doesn’t shed, what are you talking about?” “She does not eat too much!“ “She doesn’t smell—what’s the matter with you?”

It was all his problem then. His obsessing over a dog. Poor Clémence. It’s true he’d thought of killing it. He’d sometimes wanted to. But the thought of the aftermath—Elena mad with grief and rage—was not a happy picture. It wouldn’t make her run to him, he knew. She’d just burrow further into her devotion and commitment, if only to the memory of Clémence.

Was it too difficult to form a new attachment at age 48? We’ve lived too long, he thought. Loved enough, or not enough, but have enough of our identities intact that the need for someone else just isn’t strong enough. And yet… The last time he saw her he’d wanted her with a ferocity that surprised him. Her smile, the way her hair fell in wisps around her ears, her legs—still shapely and attractive beneath her short skirt. She was kind and funny and physically attractive, and having been in a number of relationships over the years, from two days to 14 years, he knew this was all that mattered to him now, it had boiled down to this: thoughtfulness, a sense of humor, an attractive physique. But sans Clémence. Just get rid of the dog.

He'd wandered onto the trail that began in the park and wound its way through the woods. He trod the path without thinking, without noticing: faint sound of birds, insects, twigs crackling. Soon the sun would be sinking. He thought of the list he’d pocketed: lemons, dish detergent, butter, scones

He could remember the items easily. And if he placed those four items in his shopping basket? Would he have the answer? How simple, really, so simple. His step quickened. He knew the Quick Mart would be open now; the trail led almost to its doorstep. He smiled—at nothing, to no one in particular.


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