This story dates back to the early sixties. My father was a non-sentimental serious person. He always went around with knitted brows and eyes of hammer. There seemed to be nothing on earth to soften his stony heart. I had never seen my father contemplate over a flower, a full moon, a rising Sun, a fluttering butterfly, a kitten with kaleidoscopic eyes or a beautiful liquid-eyed puppy.
While we were wondering about finding a way to melt his heart, a God-sent incident occurred. One fine morning, when we opened the door, we found a white puppy with brown patches curled up on the doormat. It was healthy and plump. Somebody left it at our doorstep deliberately.
Those days such things happened. People used to get rid of puppies and kittens by dropping them at the doorsteps of other houses. For the first time, I saw softness in my father’s eyes; he saw this puppy as it stood wagging its tail vigorously, its round, black grape eyes begging for acceptance. It was a pleasant shock to us when he bent down and picked it up. We expected him to kick it. He was allowing the pup to lick—lick his hand!
That was the first time my father and I saw eye to eye. I thanked the eyes of the puppy. The next day my father sprung another surprise. He named the puppy. He instructed us to feed it on time and have it on leash so that it won’t stray into the street and get hurt. Munusami (the strange name my father gave the puppy) grew up fast.
Somehow, it understood my father’s role in accepting it at our house and started showing special affection towards him. The way it wagged its tail on seeing him was different from the manner in which it wagged its tail when it greeted us. The one person who could fathom the reason behind my father’s affection for soft-eyed Munusami was my mother who believed strongly in rebirths. “They must have something to do with each other in their previous births,” she used to say. One day my father bought Munusami a leather collar without which “it would run the risk of being caught and electrocuted by the Corporation dog catchers”.
We stopped chaining Munusami when it grew big enough to walk the streets and face the street dogs. It followed my father (a teacher) when he went to school—like the lamb which followed Mary in the famous nursery song. We thanked Munusami for changing my father’s attitude with its gratitude.
M R Anand