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Stories. 
A Unique Bond
by Ramendra Kumar

Ten-year-old Sameer was waiting for the traffic to thin down before crossing the narrow road. Just then he saw a small pup darting across the road. As he watched in dismay he saw a moped coming from the opposite direction. The driver was looking at the film posters and had not seen the pup, which was right in its path. In another few seconds the pup was sure to come under the tyre. Sameer lunged forward and picking up the pup jumped clear. He landed in a heap as the moped screeched to a halt and then turning  sped away.

Strong arms lifted Sameer to his feet. He was still holding the pup.

“Well done, son. You saved the little mutt’s life.” Sameer looked up. A stout middle aged man was looking at him with concern. “Are you okay?”

“Y...yes. Thanks.” Sameer said and placing the pup on the pavement started walking back to his house.

Apart from a few scratches, he seemed to be okay.

Sameer was a class five student who was an orphan. He lived with his grandfather in Nagpur. He was good in studies and wanted to become a computer engineer.

The door was opened by Baba, Sameer’s grandfather.

“What happened Sameer? Your clothes are dirty and there are scratches on your arms.

Sameer told him.

“That was a brave thing you did, beta,” Baba said patting him on his back.

Sameer went inside to change.

After a few minutes Baba called him.

“Come out Sameer you have a guest at the door. I think he has come to propose a vote of thanks,” Baba said. He was standing at the door, looking down with an amused expression on his face.

Sameer rushed forward and peeped out. Sitting in front of the door looking up was the pup.  It seemed to have an expression of hope on its face. As soon as it saw Sameer it started wagging its tail ever so slightly. Sameer bent down and patted its head. The pup jumped up and licked the tip of his nose.

“Sameer beta, I think it has no where else to go. It has come looking for a home.”

he pup was brown, with soft hair. It had long ears and a short tail, which stood up. The tip of its tail was black. It was really very cute to look at.

ldquo;Baba can I keep it?”

“Why not? It will keep you company and when it grows up, guard our house. Not that there is much to guard in our house.”

ameer got up and hugged his grandfather. “Thanks Baba.”

~*~

Sameer named the dog Rocky and soon it became his constant companion. Wherever Sameer went he would take it along. He found it to be very intelligent, obedient and extremely possessive.

Baba had bought a black and white TV at a throwaway price and Sameer’s favorite programme was Dogs with Jobs on the National Geographic channel. The programme was exclusively devoted to the activities of the canines with special qualities. Sameer would watch the programme with Rocky faithfully sitting beside him cocking its head at the TV screen.

Sameer started teaching some of the tricks he saw the dogs performing on TV to Rocky. To his delight he found that Rocky was a quick learner. His reflexes were extremely sharp and he rarely forgot an instruction.

Within a year or so Rocky had grown into a strong and healthy dog. It was smart and agile and to Sameer the best looking dog in the world.

ne day Sameer and Rocky were playing in the park. Sameer was throwing up the tennis ball and Rocky was jumping up and catching it in his mouth. The kind of catches he was taking would have made Jonty Rhodes, the famous South African cricketer, proud. 

Sameer threw the ball at an angle and at a fast pace. In a flash Rocky jumped up and grabbed it in his jaws.

There was sound of clapping and Sameer turned. A dark, well-built man with thick curly hair was sitting on a park bench watching Sameer and Rocky.

ldquo;Son, your dog is fantastic. Does he know any more tricks?”

“Of course,” Sameer said. He picked up a stick lying on the ground and held it chest high. He then turned to Rocky and shouted, “ Rocky jump!”

ocky ran forward and jumping high in the air, sailed above the stick, like a professional high jumper.

Sameer now stood still and commanded. “Rocky kiss.”

ldquo;Rocky stood on two legs and putting his nose against Sameer’s cheek nuzzled tenderly.

fter that for the next ten minutes Sameer and Rocky entertained the stranger with various other tricks.

“Wow. Young man. You and your dog both are fantastic. I am Sam Vincent. Your dog’s name I already know. What is your name?”

“Sameer?”

“Where do you stay?”

ldquo;I live close by - next to Delight Bakery which is behind this park.”

“What is your father doing?”

“My parents are no more. I live with my grandfather, who has retired as an accountant in a furniture shop.”

Vincent held out his hand.

“Nice meeting you and Rocky, Sameer.”

Sameer shook hands and Vincent walked away.

~*~

Next day when Sameer came back from school, Baba opened the door. Sameer dumped the bag inside and looked around. Usually the minute the door opened Rocky would jump on his and smother him with licks.

“Where is Rocky?” Sameer stared at his grandfather.

“Why don’t you change quickly and have your food?” Baba said avoiding his eyes.

“Baba. What is wrong? Where is Rocky? Is he ill?”

“No Sameer he is not ill. I thought I’d tell you after you have had your food and settle down. But since you are insisting I’ll have to break the news right away?”

“What news Baba?” Sameer asked his voice going hoarse with anxiety.

ldquo;Yesterday, you met a man in the park. His name was Sam Vincent. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, he was watching Rocky performing his tricks.”

“Well, he came to me this morning. He is the manager of a circus in Hyderabad. He had come to Nagpur on some work. He happened to be in the park while you and Rocky were playing. He was very much impressed by Rocky. You know what he told me about Rocky?

“What?” Sameer asked still not sure where all this was leading to.

“Rocky is not a street dog as you and I were thinking. He is a Labrador? An absolutely pure breed.”

ldquo;What!” Sameer had seen Labradors in ‘Dogs with Jobs’ and noticed Rocky’s similarity with them. But he hadn’t realized his Rocky was a true bred Labrador.

“Yes. His market price ranges from 6000 to 8000 rupees. Vincent told me had had enough experience with dogs to recognize a genius when he saw one. “Uncle, your dog Rocky is a very special dog. I am yet to see a more intelligent dog in my life. And I should know. As a circus manager I have handled dogs and have seen others training dogs for many, many years. If with Sameer Rocky can perform so well, with a professional trainer he can achieve wonders.” Baba stopped and looked at Sameer who was staring open-mouthed at him.

“Sameer Vincent offered me Rs. 35,000 in hard cash for Rocky and.....”

“And what Baba?” Sameer asked his face turning white.

ldquo;And I sold Rocky to him.”

“What? I can’t believe this Baba. You gave my Rocky to that stranger for...for money...” Sameer was shaking.

“Please listen son. Try to understand. Thirty thousand is big money. I have decided I’ll put that money in fixed deposit in the bank in your name. It will become 70,000 in five years and by the time you are ready to take admission into engineering it will around one lakh. You know I am a poor man. I hardly have any savings. This fellow Vincent’s offer came like a boon from the heaven. And naturally I grabbed it.”

“I still can’t believe it Baba that you, my Baba, could be so cruel. I will never forgive you for this,” Sameer said and running inside threw himself on his bed and sobbed his heart out.

He didn’t have his lunch and dinner that day. Baba tried to cajole and coax him. He even shouted at him and pulled his ears. But Sameer just refused to listen. He sat on his bed like a zombie and kept looking out of the window. He refused to talk to Baba.

hat night he fell into a fitful sleep. In the middle of the night he woke up screaming. Baba rushed to his side. When he put his hand on Sameer’s forehead he found it was burning. He took the temperature. It was 104 degrees. He gave Sameer a capsule and sat up with him the whole night.

The next day when the temperature did not come down, Baba got Dr. Amar Sanyal to take a look.

“The boy is in a state of shock. Has something happened?” Dr. Sanyal asked.

Baba told him about Rocky.

Dr. Sanyal nodded his bald head. “The boy seems very much attached to the dog. It’s disappearance has come as a brutal shock. I suggest you try to contact the circus manager and get back the dog.”

Baba was at his wit’s end. How could he contact Vincent? The only thing he knew about him was that he was the Manager in a circus in Hyderabad.

That night Sameer’s condition worsened. He was close to delirium.

“Baba, I can hear Rocky’s bark…. Rocky is coming home, he is coming home to me Baba...” Sameer was shouting.

Just then Baba heard a sound. As if someone was pushing the door. He got up and opened it. A dark shape leapt past him.

As Baba turned he saw the shape bound towards Sameer’s bed. Baba rushed in unable to believe what he was seeing.

On the bed Sameer was sitting up with his arms around Rocky, hugging him, kissing him, with tears streaming down his face. The animal in turn was wagging his tail in frenzy, licking his master’s face and barking with sheer joy. As Baba neared the bed he could see Rocky too was crying...

~*~

Next morning at six there was a knock. Baba opened the door. Vincent was standing outside looking tired.

“Has...has the dog come here?”

“Yes.”

“I reached Hyderabad the night I bought the dog. It refused to eat anything on the way. And when we reached the circus it was simply uncontrollable. I had to put it in a cage. It somehow managed to escape. But how did it reach here I just can’t imagine. It is a miracle!”

Baba told him about Sameer’s condition. He then went in and a few moments later came out with a packet.

“Here is your money, Mr. Vincent. I can’t keep the dog and the boy away from each other. It will be a sin. I hope you understand.”

Vincent took the packet and got up. “You are right Sir. The two share a relationship which logic can never explain, and we grown ups probably will never understand.”

Sitting on his bed as Sameer heard these words he hugged his pet tight and Rocky licked the tip of his young master’s nose.    

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

7-Oct-2007
 
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