Thursday, September 16, 2010

Life with Tyson

Tyson.
No. No. Not Mike Tyson.
Silly beginning. Yet, I'm supposed to make things clear right?!
If it's not Mike...who's it then...who's this Tyson worth writing down about?!
I've no answers to whether he's worth it or not. But our encounters are.
He came into my life without an actual hype or pomp. I and four other engineering students have hired a house-the first floor, in Thanjavur. The house owner lives at the ground floor. The 'house owner' aka 'uncle' as we call him, one fine evening, brought this 'half German shepherd-half street dog' breed into his house and thereby into our lives...'my' life!
Uncle claimed him to be a child then. None of us could believe it because for his so called childhood, Tyson was so stupidly ferocious. Stupid, insane, outta-his-mind dog he was!!
It seemed too difficult to have the virtue of his acquaintance. He, at times, even raged against uncle or the kids in his family. Yet, they liked him. To uncle, more than love, he was someone to safeguard his residence. To the kids, he was another playmate. To me ...”Grrr...another stupid dog!!"...
*******

Yep,..I've never had good relations with dogs.
Never. 
 It would take a book to elaborate on all those insulting encounters. To me, dogs were wild animals. They never understood me and vice-versa.
I've had dogs chasing me around the street corners when on my bicycle, like their whole life depended on it....as though it gave a meaning to their lives.....
I've come upon a dog who barked a comfy conversation with another, once he saw me...wonder what they conversed about this human...the other gave a disdain look at me...and not withstanding a moment, they began running towards me...Apparently, I had no choice but to flee... !!

Neither social nor biological factors could pull me outta these.
*******

           
My childhood friends knew of my 'interest' in dogs and spun doggy-fairy-tales especially for me. The best pick among those (of course the only one I remember amongst many--perhaps because it was the best ), was the scary-dog street that supposedly existed two streets ahead of my ex-ex-home. There was this guy who was an year elder to me--which means (for a ten year old) I had to believe whatever he says--at least, nod (minimum requirement) !! His thesis went this way..with a practical experience to hold evidence...
"The scary-dog street is that deserted street in our locality, where all dogs are invariably scary no matter big or small, male or female, dark or light or spotted,---and they all hate unusual trespassers madly.
The proof he held out confidently was the fact that the street was always deserted-whenever we happened to pass by looking at it-and that was evident enough to prove to kids like us as though the whole world knew of his erudite theory and that's why nobody passed by.     "See?! Told ya...”- he would say with eternal confidence.
 He also added his own personal spine-chilling experience. It goes like--he accidentally happened to drive his bicycle through the suspected street (this was before he devised his theory!), it was a few decimeters before he could actually traverse thro' it completely--when he just discovered there was a dog sitting comfortably on his bicycle's carrier right behind him ----"Whoa!!", we all shuddered at the thought of the same happening to us ever. An add-on was that he claimed that he heard strange noises moments before he discovered the doggie sitting right-royal behind him. Hence, it so happened that we all reverently adhered to the scary-dog street tale and its implications.

            While that was/is a wonderful fairy tale--this one to be seen was/is a stunning reality that stung me right into my cerebrum. There was this cousin of mine--four years younger than me--who was being awed at and made fun of at the same time for his act of washing a little puppy like any other clothing material. He was suspected to have immersed the puppy into soap water and partially acted upon it onto an exclusive washing stone. The greatest myth in this story was that the puppy survived through all this at last.
 P.S.: When this happened, he was around three years old--which means, he was just somewhere around two years elder than his victim puppy.

            So here again, the social factor--friends and stuff--did have something to do with my relationship with man's best friend. But the biological link seems to be broken somewhere--here I am writing about how I was scared of dogs and there was that cousin with the age I told you, who performed that brave act.
*******
     

Enough of flashback. Back to Tyson,...

           
Tyson was known in-house for his commendable olfactory senses. Once he smelled somebody, he would judge him whenever next met (this kept uncle bragging around about his new pet dog, for the next few days). It was during these early days with Tyson that I began seriously worrying about body odor and started bathing regularly.
Well...that didn't help for long. Tyson's insanity was far beyond his olfactory senses. Whatever you do,...Tyson is sure to get mad at you whatsoever. The only way out, was to accept Tyson and his lunacy as such with a broad-heart. Some of my inmates discovered novel strategies like feeding him biscuits, cuddling with him from time to time, rubbing his scarcely fur-covered body as a mark of friendliness ...et cetera...
I was good at neither of these. I remember trying out the biscuit one--didn't really work out.
           
             I almost routinely had miniature adventures with him. Yet, this one was big.                Real big at that time.....

            I had come home early from college, sacrificing a few classes--which others indecently referred to as 'bunking'--, and the key to our house upstairs would be in a switch-box in front of uncle's door. That ...was where Tyson was being tied up. Right above his head, was the switch box, and in it...the key...the fruit to all the bunking I've done that day.
             I took in a gulp of atmospheric oxygen. "Well...”- I told myself, "...this is your chance to show him you're a far better species than him." I imagined the key as symbol of my victory over Tyson's ferocious dominance.  "If only I snatched my key--overcoming Tyson's insanity....”- I thought, "...that ...would be my symbolic victory over the entire dog-species,...the whole of dog-kind !!!"
            I've already began fantasizing about myself holding the key victoriously and smiling down at loser-Tyson with contempt, when Tyson gave me a cruel stare right from his position.
"Well, you dog...here ends your reign of terror....”- I thought, and instantly sprang on my feet towards the switch-box that contained my treasure. After a few lightning seconds of my first ever bravery act against dog-kind--with extra adrenaline running thro' my blood, I triumphantly opened the switch-box--when Tyson raged towards me with his best ever ferocity--I looked at him and threw my fingers into the switch-box--snatched the key--and sprang back towards my initial pro-battle position. The adrenaline subsided, as I gave a dirty look at loser-Tyson and looked at my symbol of triumph--the key....
             I have done a real great job, except that I had snatched the wrong key from the switch-box. ‘Uncle & family’ had gone out somewhere...it seemed they had kept the key there for their kids to pick up after returning from school.
             I looked at the partially open switch-box. My key was hanging in there...right under the box was Tyson looking at me still wanting to battle. As I presumed that I may not have enough adrenaline for another warfare, I gave up the idea of answering Tyson's dirty stare and waited until uncle returned to enable my access home, via the right key.
*******

             
Apart from annoying inmates like me, Tyson also held name for troubling almost every passer-by on the street. He had almost caused two little accidents, merely by the insanity in his barking style. Though he was often tied up owing to his over-enthusiastically-crazy nature, he always barked ferociously at a milk-man on his moped, regularly. An old man next door gave a sad look on his face, when being caught red-handed while throwing stones at Tyson, undercover. Notwithstanding, Tyson continued to expose his traits to most of the guests who visited uncle and us.
            Uncle even tried sending him off to a distant relative's place. It was reported that Tyson refused to take food there as a mark of rebelliousness. Uncle also tied up his eyes once and let him far off at a distant place, on some unknown street in the town. That evening...Tyson returned home all by himself.

            One thing was becoming intensely sure day by day. ‘Getting rid of Tyson is impossible.   If only Tyson died suddenly, it would have been a difficult case to solve. Every soul on the street earnestly wanted to kill Tyson. At least, most of them would have creatively fantasized about the possibility!!

            Eventually, people began to get used to Tyson's insanity. We all had learned to put up with him. And Tyson too began to behave a lot more subtle than he used to be. The highest trouble he gave during the later days was to run out of the house every time the main gate was opened--which seemed to us as a remarkable difference. He grew out of his childhood and began roaming on the streets occasionally, hiding bones and quarreling with fellow dogs. He was never known to have won a dog-fight. We guessed that it has had a serious effect on his self-esteem (!) and must have leveled his head.   
*******

As days rolled by, we lived our lives and Tyson lived his. I returned one day after a vacation, back to Thanjavur.....to our house where we friends stayed, only to find that Tyson was gone. Another little black puppy had replaced him. On inquiry, uncle's wife--namely aunty--poured out that Tyson was caught and taken by the corporation workers one fine evening, as he roamed on the streets. They had been on a hunt for street dogs, and there they had one fine specimen of it. Aunty regretted on the possibility that Tyson would have been killed once he was taken. She added that she was not able to call this new dog any other name other than Tyson--that was the name that always came to her head on seeing a dog. 
Reason yet unknown,...that day, that moment,...absence of his insanity over the place began to make a difference to me. I felt sorry for Tyson. I wished earnestly that he mustn't have been killed.
*******
This piece of writing is a tribute to the dog I most hated on earth--that dog who I missed when he was gone--that dog who I certainly might not welcome again, though i missed him for a moment!!
Good or bad, Tyson had made a relationship with me which I couldn't forget either way.
I remember reading this sentence in Reader's Digest once...
"We give dogs, food we can spare, space we can spare and time we can spare. In return, dogs give us their all" 
*******


1 comment:

Maheshwari L said...

hehe I can empathize...completely :)
Curious thing though - hate seems to be a form of love after all!

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