Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Of claws and paws

Episode 1: Fair-feather foes

Murphy, I stand corrected.

A couple of weeks ago I blamed Murphy for my delinquent Net connection. I had switched from a dial-up to a cable connection, expecting salvation to follow. But three excruciating weeks later, I was still beset with the same woes. I’d log on for a couple of hours and suddenly find myself bereft. From gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands, I graduated to choice cuss words. The carefully cultivated composure would evaporate every time I found the cable operator’s phone switched off. Finally, one morning, I got him on the phone…

He hurried over to my house before I could chew off his other ear. He set off tinkering with the wires while I scorched his back with the ferocity of my gaze. He examined the cables studiously before turning to face me and stammered, “I go check cable box outside."

I waited. The eyebrow stayed arched, the foot continued tapping. He came back, looking like he’d been in a scuffle. “Well,” I asked icily, “did you fix the faulty cables?”

“Medem, wire was ok. But pigeons had put off switch.”

I snarled.

He took a step backward and continued, “Pigeon make nest in cable box. They was putting on-off switch. But now I take out them and lock the box.”

He picked out feather bits from his shirt cuffs and then pointed to the screen, “Net bees working now.”

I stared at the screen dumbfounded and deflated. A conspiracy by pigeons!

And I thought the worst they could do was aim their droppings at you…

Episode 2: Chivalrous Canine

Sometimes I almost forget I live in a city. My house is surrounded by not one, but two gardens. Now, garden is a lofty term. It might conjure up images of rose bushes and manicured hedges, picket fences and such… Nothing of the sort. The area is overrun by towering Asokas, mango, jackfruit and papaya trees, a coconut palm, some wildflowers, some colourful shrubs, a few willful vines and some thrilled weeds. In short, it’s a forest. Albeit, a well watered, well maintained one.

Naturally, one third of those who got off the Ark have taken up residence here. Over the years, our guest list has included dogs, cats, rodents, squirrels, lizards, frogs, bees, bats, birds, earthworms, slugs and on a couple of occasions, snakes.

Recently, however, the stray dogs had begun to assume ownership of the building premises. And they had somehow figured that the best time to settle disputes was somewhere between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.

A compound wall was built and heavy metal gates were put in place, so that our building came to resemble Fort Knox. Still there were a couple of strays who inevitably found a gate ajar and slipped in to reclaim lost ground. One of them was Tawm.

Limpid eyes, wagging tail, brown and white fur, Tawm. His sole daily agenda was to find a comfortable spot outside our door and stay immobile there, no matter what the provocation. There were times when he was chased outside Fort Knox, but he inexplicably found his way back.

Last week, I was as usual, rushing off to work. I slammed the door shut and geared up for the leap up the stairs, when the indolent Tawm beat me to it.

“Outta my way, Tawm,” I growled. But he sauntered ahead right up to the gate. I clucked impatiently, when a slim paw landed on the gate. Holding the gate with his front paws, and hobbling on his hind legs, Tawm swung open the heavy gate before my astonished eyes.

My jaw was hanging almost as much as his. “After you, woof woof,” he said, still holding on to the gate while I stepped out daintily.

All daintiness was forgotten when I spotted the auto. Arms flailing, half-yelling I thought I’d got the driver’s attention. But just then, another office-goer charged out from the building ahead and leaped into the auto. Pretending he hadn’t seen me flag it, he studiously examined his hands as the auto trundled away.

I was about to spew a string of curses when I spotted Tawm watching me calmly.

“It’s a human’s life”, he drawled and moseyed back to the gate.

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