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A Few Hungry Dogs

By Gyanesh Mohan

“Do you think we’d have been better off in Ayodhya of Ram which these humans so wistfully talk about as if it was yesterday? Do you really think we’d have experienced the Ramrajya in all its glory or it’d have been just another era for us?” asked one with brooding eyes.

“I don’t really know. It seems like a loaded question but I don’t delve on these questions – foraging for food leaves me little time, you know,” replied another with sleepy eyes.

“Not that I have any first hand experience or even a tell-tale account of that era, I could tell you for sure that our situation in any era would have been a function of who we were owned by. Or if we were not, it’d depend on how the master specie treated us in general. It’d depend on their generosity and our loyalty to the humans we were around,” joined another while stretching his forelegs and pushing his body backwards.

“Owned?! Master specie?! Have you gone nuts?! Don’t you have any morsel of shame left in you?! Don’t your gene have any memory of our glorious ancestry?! Don’t you know where and who we come from? Had we not cowed down to this basic urge – hunger, we would have been giving a chase even to the King of the Jungle,” retorted another with straight ears and bare fangs.

“Cow down?! Interesting choice of words given the closed slaughterhouse we’re outside. And what wild and what Jungle you are talking about buddy. Even the King of the Jungle is at their mercy – the so called superior specie who liken themselves to that very King of the Jungle thumping their chest. Very interesting these humans are. At one time, you’d be worshipped as a demigod and at another time they would be chasing you for fun. The most vile are the little ones. They would throw stones at you just for fun.”

“Now, now... don’t veer randomly and aimlessly. These humans are not very different from us. Although it is true that our chasing a cat has an ancestral and genetic reason, it is true altogether that we chase our own all the same as humans. The humans also have the same reason as we do – protecting our resources and territory,” observed another.

It was not your usual pack of dogs squabbling over a morsel of meat outside a slaughterhouse but it was a well organised group – rather a congress of dogs. Although it is usually the crows which have the honour to be called a congress in a group but unusual circumstances call for unusual measures.

“You have the gumption to compare us to those unprincipled, unscrupulous sons of monkeys,” grrred the one with straight ears and bare fangs.

He seemed to really re-establish his identity as a wolf – to him going back to being a wolf was returning to Ramrajya.

“Why are we discussing all this today? Why didn’t your wolf-spirit rise before the slaughterhouse got closed?” asked another

“Closing of the slaughterhouse....isn’t it a good thing? They say that if one gave up eating beef, the rate of global warming could be reigned in, you know. Saw it on a discovery special at the tea stall. You should visit it sometimes. The conversations are more riveting than the Parliament of India,” said the one with brooding eyes as if he had been to the Parliament.

“Good thing? For whom? You with your theories of Ramrajya and tea stall chit chats. There is no food for us and you are giving us food for thought. No wonder ours is a pathetic lot. You say of global warming. The reasons are aplenty. Slaughterhouse of this city could not be generating all the carbon footprint. There’s no deep rooted philosophy behind shutting a slaughterhouse down. It’s all pretty petty and shallow. All they care about is a public perception of themselves and these other people also don’t have any particular affinity for the environment. The enmity of them towards one another and the fight for limited resources have made them all blind to the bigger picture. They have all grown myopic despite being in the land of seekers of the ultimate truth. But in all this, it is our lot who has suffered alot. We cannot go to another city as it’d be territory of another of our kind. We cannot survive on occasional bread doled to us at the mercy shown to us by humans. All we have been left with is the option of eating ourselves or each other,” said the one who had been stretching his body.

“Where do you bring all this wisdom from? You should have been the bloody master specie, I tell you. You make more sense than all the news channel anchors I see, roaring and yelling their throats out, on the TV at the tea stall. That guy is good, though. He throws me an occasional biscuit and even pours a bit of milk at times,” said the one with brooding eyes who seemed almost as if he was smiling.

This congress of dogs was proposing, analysing and deducing. At times, a few of the members did seem to stand out on certain issues but they were ignored as the fringe.

“What would come out of all this brainstorming? The crows seem to gather like this once they need to bring one of their own to justice. In villages, men gather around a place to sentence a certain something to someone. In Jungle, the King decides on his own whim but even he understands the compulsions of hunger. We are gathered here but what justice would we be given or who would we bring to justice. These humans? We’re hungry but how would we convey this to them that their action has brought our lot to such a sorry state,” said the one who had been listening all the while.

“I say, it is high time that we took the matters in our hand and do justice to our kind. The humans say that the soul is God and body its temple and we must take care of the temple to satiate the God. I say, we take care of our own temple. What do you say?” asked the one with wolf-spirit.

“And do what?” asked the wise one

“Make our own meat. Kill to assert our authority and send a message,” said the one with wolf-spirit.

“And go where?”

“To the jungle.”

“Remember, the jungle is a mere fancy word these days and even if you went, you’d not know how to survive.”

“But isn’t it the question of our survival which has brought us all here?”

“He is making sense now,” seconded another.

A few voices said that they didn’t understand what was going on and the manner in which the group intended to assert itself and the message they intended to send.

The one who had invoked the wolves asked them to join them on faith or be the fringe this time.

They all had been going on in circles from quite sometime now. They thought it was high time that something concrete came out of all this.

A human child roamed by. The child had a stone in his hands. The congress of dogs saw it. The one whose ancestors were wolves gave out a call. Suddenly , the group gave out a howl. The congress had transformed into a pack. They had certainly tapped into their ancestral gene.

A newspaper published an article that an eleven year old child was mauled by a few dogs. Experts were of the opinion that the dogs were wild and had wandered in the city. A few others were of the opinion that the closure of the slaughterhouse had caused the dogs to crave for meat which they were so accustomed to. A few others were of the opinion that the slaughterhouse should not have been there in the first place itself such that its closure would have such an effect on them.

Another article read that a mob lynched a man suspected of carrying a cow carcass.

P.S: Feel free to run your imagination wild. Don’t restrict it to he/she, him/her, dogs/humans. The mind is your own jungle. There is no fear of encroachment (although there is) here.

By Gyanesh Mohan

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