My memory lane looks more like a wildlife sanctuary. Almost three fourths of all the happy moments that I can recall has some member of Kingdom Animalia present in them. My identity is incomplete without them, and they have a huge purpose in my being. Pa thinks I belong more to them than I belong more to them than I belong to the sapiens. He fears that by any chance if I land up in the Indian Police Services, I'll turn it into an animal rights protection force.
I was born in a home which had more canines than human beings. I grew up irritating them. Bruno, Sheeba, Mickey, Rocky, Daisy... Its a family secret that I BARKED before I spoke. I'm not to be blamed. Subsequently, animals were all around me. Inside my home and outside, in my books, on the tv, everywhere.
Now came those beloved divine interpreters of my stars. The Purohits. Even before I was born, they warned my mother to be careful. Her first child was going to be a typhoon. When I came, the family's belief in jyotish vidya intensified. They were called again, to design my horoscope, pick out the doshas, suggest the upayas and some other stuff. Heres what I was told to do...
Feed fishes on Sundays, Ants on friday, Cows on tuesday, Keep a female black dog as a pet, Free birds in cages, also a pair of snakes, Keep a deer as a stuff toy, Feed Gud to elephants and some other stuff. I still wonder if they were astrologers or animal welfare activists.
So being one hell of an obedient child, I did it all and understandably I grew close to almost all sorts of animals. Whatever morsel of fear was present disappeared eventually and by the time I crossed the incredible age of adolescence, my interaction with beasts often became a matter of wonder to spectators.
Obviously, now there were enough reasons why I chose Zoology as a subject for graduation including the fact that my mother was also a post grad in it. Miranda House had no idea what was it in for when it welcomed me.
Dissections, one thing that I'd perhaps never forgive myself for. I was a decent student, but I was exceptionally good with dissections, Cockroaches, earthworms, sea urchins, prawns, rats, frogs, leeches, pigeon heads, I did it all until the final year came and changed me forever. I had chosen entomology as one of my subjects, which is the study of insects. I excelled at the observations, cultured butterflies, and mosquitoes, and what not, but then there was one exercise called insect collection. You have to catch all sorts of insects, kill them in poison jars, stretch them, pin them and put them up for display.
One huge problem with my entity is that if I fail to understand the purpose of something, I am not able to do it. After collecting a dozen of them and seeing them twitch in pain and die in those damned jars, I walked up to my teacher and told her I am not going to do it anymore. She had high hopes from me, the war ensued, I was to get no marks if I didn't do it. I decided I didn't want them.
Similarly another grose exercise carrying a load of numbers was live dissection. Where you dissect live frogs, and some goddamn perverted purpose which even your teachers will not be able to explain to you, you will cut open their ribs to record their heartbeat or muscle twitch. Its an abominable sight, but for marks YOU ARE TO DO IT . I feigned asthma due to psychosomatic reasons and was exempted though no marks were to be awarded to me. The very same day I reached home and called up a lady politician who is a very avid animal lover and activist. After half a dozen calls she assured me she will look into the matter. Thankfully from this year there will be no dissections in zoology honours. Thats the biggest reward I received as a student.
Animals can sense your feelings and reciprocate the same way. If you are afraid, they'll chase you, if you get violent, they mirror your actions, if you are aloof, they wont bother, and if you are affectionate, they return the same hundred times the original amounts.
I've picked up terrified chameleons to rescue them from my screaming lady classmates, and the faith with which they've climbed onto my palm... :) When I was in school I once saved a bat from being killed, and after a while it was so comfortable and affectionate it refused to come out of my lab coat pocket. Snakes have never been aggressive with me. I had picked up a krait when I was six and it had only stared at me dreamily. I know you'd be wondering if I am insane. Perhaps I am, but when something that cannot speak conveys to you such an amount of love and faith you'd probably prefer being one.
My own dojjy, Brandy Singh, however defies all logic. She is absolutely terrified of my cuddles and until I am back from a long journey or something, the only look I get from her is that of scorn.
Brownie and Titli, two dogs that reside outside my house but in my heart are a matter of wonder not just for me, but for everyone else. God knows if they are bro and sis, or cousins, or lovers, but one thing which can never be doubted is that their companionship is a matter of envy. Always together, these two have so much love brimming in their hearts for each other and for us that when they come running to you every time they spot you, you know this was one reason for which you were born. If I am standing outside the gate, brownie will be sleeping on my feet and Titli will sitting close. If I am sitting, then Brownie has his paw on my knee and Titli within hands distance. If I am walking, then I am flanked on either side by the two of them. Such love dear reader, is so profound that it seeps into your heart and makes your grey a shade lighter. You heal with this love, you forgive, you move on, you smile and you understand what happiness is in its purest state. Be it Titli's protective mother like behavior or Brownie's baby like affection or their miraculous awe inspiring companionship, your soul will hold on to these moments. They drown me in their love and I become a better person every time.
Its an overwhelming feeling when a winged one comes to your garden tormented by the cruel afternoon, has a sip of the water you kept for her and with new hope, soars again. Its a wonderful feeling, when your little gesture saves a being, its a beautiful feeling when you know somebody loves you more than you love yourself... Its a wonderful world for all thats in it.