Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Strange Episode I Still Don't Understand

I thought of this quite suddenly today. Actually, to be fair, it wasn't all that sudden and unsolicited a thought. I was trying to think back to remarkable incidents from when I was younger. This is one of those that I think back to once in a while but utterly fail to understand even now. Either it was utterly inconsequential and meaningless or it was so poignant and full of life's mysteries that I have not been able to unravel it despite (or is it because of?)all the growing up that I have done (on an aside, I am finding it a little amusing that the more adult I am becoming, the more posts there are about growing up - I'd have thought the process would've been done with by now). Anyway, let me put the facts before you first. I know that many people hate pre-story rambling - I for one get annoyed to death by pre-story analyses and disclaimers. Okay then.

So I was around 7 years old, visiting an aunt with my brother. My cousin had a Tibetan Lhasa called Boney. My cousin was 9 years old and very fond of Boney. One day, after lunch, it was time to take Boney for a walk. My brother and I tagged along. I wanted to hold Boney's leash while we walked him. My cousin said that he (Boney) had a bit of a wild streak, and it might be a better idea for him (my cousin) to keep the leash. But I was adamant. I said I would be careful and hold the leash tightly. So my cousin gave me the leash. It was all fine for the first ten minutes, Boney trotted along sniffing plants and eating mud. Then, as on most occasions that come with warnings, things went awfully wrong. Boney caught sight of a dog from an enemy camp and decided to chase him. He tugged and tugged at the leash. Now, interestingly, from the point of him spotting the evil dog to him escaping the leash, it couldn't have been more than a few seconds, and given that almost 17 years have passed since the incident, I would be excused for not remembering the exact sequence of events very clearly. But I do. I remember that Boney tugged at the leash, and I held on to it tightly. Then he tugged again, but I could have controlled it long enough to let my cousin grab hold of the leash or the dog and make sure he didn't run. But I didn't. For some reason I can't put my finger on even today, I let go. I do, however, remember that I had reasoned it out perfectly in the second or two that it took me to make the decision. And even today, I regret what followed, but I do not question the decision itself- it seemed like the natural thing to have done then. Anyway, once I let go, Boney ran off at a surprisingly swift pace for the lazy dog he otherwise was. I turned to my cousin, fearing some sort of angry outburst, the confidence of my well-reasoned decision slipping out me at an also-remarkably swift pace. He did not have even the slightest frown of anger on his face. It was a look of responsibility and concern, and he told me and my brother to go back to the house and that he would get Boney. Given that he was only 2 years elder to me, I felt I could, despite being the cause for the entire drama, have a say in the matter, and I said, why don't we go and tell Mausa what has happened. My cousin said there was no time, that the other dogs would bite Boney, and took off after him. I then went back to the house with my brother and waited anxiously for my cousin to return. I had sort of assumed that Boney would not be found - I mean, how would my cousin be able to tell where exactly he had gone to chase the evil dog. As it turned out however, this was a fairly frequent thing Boney did, and my cousin found him quite easily and was back within fifteen minutes of our return. Both he and Boney had some cuts and bruises on them - from bushes as also from the strays that were lurking about in enemy territory. I was now scared out of my wits. I expected that my Mausa and Mausi would be highly displeased that my irresponsible conduct had resulted in injuries to both their son and their dog. But before that, I expected that I would get a scolding and a lecture from my cousin, who was after all, 2 years elder to me. Now, this is the part I absolutely don't get. My cousin went and washed himself and Boney and put Dettol on all wounds. He then gave Boney his food and came into the hall, where my brother and I were sitting quietly and squirming, and cheerfully started talking to us. Like nothing had happened. I kept waiting for there to be some disapproval, disappointment, anger or at least an I-told-you-so. Nothing. It was like he had forgotten the episode. He did not even tell his parents that it had been my fault - he cheerfully said that Boney had slipped away yet again and went to the doctor bravely to get the wounds checked.

I cannot for the life of me, to this day, understand why he wasn't at least a little angry with me. Agreed, Boney used to slip away frequently. But this one was my fault. He should at least have asked me why I had let the leash slip or not called out to him when Boney tugged. He handled it with a level of responsibility and maturity and un-snitchiness that I was not aware existed in the world. I get love for your dog, I get that he risked his life and ran into a swamp full of strays to save him. I am sure most dog-owners would do that without batting an eyelid. But I cannot sufficiently express how much his behaviour vis-a-vis me baffles me even today. Like I said, it probably meant nothing. It probably means that this cousin of mine has the essence of goodness that all spirituality is supposed to fetch. I remain confused by various aspects of the episode and why it means so much to me.