The colony is eerily quiet. Usually, at 7 every morning, our happy nest of six families always reverberates with life. But today, it’s noiseless and voiceless. They say something about COVID-19. Three months back we have welcomed January 2020 now what’s this new COVID 19…
Nestling in the hilly parts of Panchgani this neighbourhood houses various groups of families.
I’m a member of the Rusty family. Rusty is the pampered child of Jazi and Messi. Jazi, a short, bulky, fair woman in her 40’s with an unusually high-pitched voice, rules the house. Complementing her is Mr Messi, her quieter half. He easily falls in love with celebrities. Rusty’s room exhibits that Messi successfully passed on his genes. There isn’t an inch left on the walls of Rusty’s room that hasn’t been draped with Miss Kaif’s pictures.
Since you’re wondering who I am, let me tell you. I am Tubsy, the cuddly, adorable, not-at-all pampered doggy of this Jaz-Mes-Rus family. Two years ago, Rusty found me in the adjoining jogger’s park. My mom had left me sleeping and had gone to search for food but she never returned. Rusty and his next-door neighbour or his crush, Abigail were on a walk when they spotted me. Abigail also has a puppy, a fluffy brat called Kylie. How I hate her! She is always after me. She dislikes Sheila and even scares her off. But my heart beats only for Sheila.
What’s that Jazi is screaming from the kitchen? And the jangling of utensils. Gosh! She’s really angry, burdened with all the daily chores. Of late, I have been observing that the world is in slumber except for us and the birds. Everyone is shouting “car-end-time”. Jazi keeps mumbling ” car-end-time” whenever Rusty spends hours playing car-games or begs to go outside.
Wonder what it means.
Recently, my curiosity heightened after finding out that everyone’s busy stocking their groceries. Even my family stocked a months’ ration in the kitchen.
Yesterday, I heard Messi talking to his mother over the phone regarding some “viral out…ache…” “lock…key”.
I have heard Rusty saying to Abigail about heartbreak. Now, what’s this ” new ache”?
Messi was asking his parents to stuff their groceries and necessities.
Surprisingly, everything has come to a standstill. But, why! Why are people locked inside! What’s this fuss all about? Won’t I get my delicious dog treats?
Nowadays, I don’t go for walks, only allowed to watch from the balcony; the empty roads, the playgrounds, they look neglected. It’s odd, where did all the maids go, suddenly? The sabziwala doesn’t come or scream and sell his veggies, even the newspaper bhaia has forgotten to aim his rolled sheets at my bum, and the milkman doesn’t ring the bell to disturb my morning sleep. The chirpy group of school kids who paddle down the lane no longer pass by. I even miss the postman’s cycle’s tinkling. Strange!
Honestly, I feel Rusty’s been thrown out of his college. But then, why isn’t Jazi annoyed? She behaves pretty naturally with him? He no longer goes to college rather spends an entire day on his PlayStation, eating junk or is glued to his iPad. And yet Jazi is fine with it. Weird family!
Just a few days back, Abigail ran out of her dog treats and since shops were closed she asked Rusty for some of mine. That fellow happily gave her the entire packet of my favourite food. Imagine! How ridiculous!
“You forgot! It’s my loo time. Take me out, now. Else I’ll pee here.” I growled.
“Let me text her.” Snickering at me, he kept typing. My bladder was about to burst…
Emptying my stock, made me instantly active. Now my eyes scanned for Sheila. She always stood near the gate and winked but…
Damn! There comes his heartbeat with that sly Kylie tagging along. Run, Tubsy!
“Social distancing, kids! Car-end-time rule” Miss Lobo warns from her balcony.
Again that word?
They are standing afar, shouting and speaking, as if quarrelling. What’s going on with all these humans? Crazy!
The 2-minute walk was refreshing yet I missed Sheila!
“Wash, wash, wash your hands
Wash it everyday….”
For the past few days, Mrs Nair has been continually singing this to her 4-year old girl. Every time I cross her house, I hear this song.
Catchy. I’ll sing this to Sheila next time we meet.
One thing that I love about Rusty is that he never chained the obedient me. But today, I gallop towards the main gate. Routine-wise, the watchman feeds us, me and Sheila, a Parle-G, each. But today neither he treated me nor I can find Sheila.
“Yes! This pandemic’s a disaster. The world is confined within four walls. Did you watch the news on the BBC? India’s leading…” that’s Mrs Zafar, the complaint box of this society. She has a list of grievances against every member of this complex. Her husband works in the navy and is most of the time on a voyage. She manages the whole household and probably feels she even runs the country. Now she is educating Mrs Chadha.
“God! Help Chadha!”
Mr and Mrs Chadha make a kind pair. Unfortunately childless, but they treat all kids as their own. Even us, the barking, chirping and meowing beings, they attend with love and compassion. It was during one such incident that I met Sheila. The jogger’s park, where Rusty-Abigail enjoys their ‘gutturgu’, I first saw the crippled, pale Sheila. The couple’s humble efforts helped Sheila regain her lost strength.
Two months later, normalcy returns. One breezy evening, by the lake…
Rusty and Abigail excitedly share their pent up tales. Finally, Kylie is over me and chases the lone squirrel. Sheila isn’t scared of Kylie anymore.
Happy faces surround us.
The security guard enjoys listening to the radio.
“Kuch kuch hota hai…” drifts to our ears. Like SRK I stretch my arms but argh!! I plummet to the ground.
Ah! Sheila’s giggles…
Photo By: The Poodle Gang
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