Chappy entered my life when I was going through a low phase.
Earlier in life, I’d told my husband categorically that he could either have a dog or me in the house. He feeds stray dogs, and I had no problems with it.
Chappy was a different kind of dog. She never barked. Yet, some cruel neighbors indulged in violence. Her legs were weak, because she was hit hard with a metal chain. One evening, the cruel neighbour locked her up on the terrace, saying that the Municipal authorities would come and take her. She was locked there without food and water for 17 hours. Some people threw bread to feed her from a neighbouring terrace, but she was too nervous to eat it.
The next afternoon, she gathered courage to jump down from the third floor, right when my husband was coming home for lunch. The thirsty animal gulped down half a bucket of water and survived, but fractured her ribs in the process.
Again, her access to the place she lived was blocked. She was sick and dirty, vomited often and was disliked by residents. This was the time I decided she needs a home and nursing, and the only safe place was our house. I had turned into a dog lover and dog parent, only by loving her.
She spent the first night on the doorstep, reluctant to enter a new space, despite her familiarity with us. Not used to being in closed spaces, she moved to the balcony next morning and took deep breaths with her eyes firmly fixed on the sky. We knew what she had missed the whole night.
Years passed. She regained health, and emerged as a beautiful dog with regular care. She became the daughter we never had, and did not want to go anywhere away from us. The surprising fact we noticed was that she always remained calm and serene, while her torturers passed by her. She possessed the power to forgive.
It was the happiest phase of our life, as we got out of the doldrums we were in sometime back. As per Hindu beliefs, we believe that she was a saint’s soul trapped in a dog’s body – maybe for a small slip-up in a previous life. I would talk to her about some problem. She listened intently, as if she understood, and a solution would emerge in a short time. She showered our life with blessings for the entire period of her stay.
In 2005, the noble soul left our world for another, after an 18-hour bout of vomiting blood. Doctors in our family were taken aback. She threw out 7-8 litres of blood, while a dog of her size normally has 2-3 litres. My husband was residing in another city, and had to travel to meet her. She continued to breathe, because she wanted to meet him, but the pain was immense.
At 3.35 pm, my husband who was travelling, communicated with her mentally to say, “If the suffering is unbearable, please go.” It must have been the most difficult thought that ever crossed his mind. At 3.40 pm, my message to him read “Destiny took over a mother’s will.” She had passed away, despite the blood transfusion we had attempted as a life-saver.
The moment will remain etched forever in memory. The blood being pumped in, just dribbled out of her mouth, and her body was limp. The power supply of the three-storey building disappeared for a minute. It is said that powerful souls can crack glasses when they leave. She continued to play with power supply. When I would return home from work in a melancholy mood, missing her effusive welcome, a light in the bathroom switched on and off. It happened 3-4 times. I got the switches checked. There were no loose connections. It was perhaps her way of telling me she was there.
Chappy lives on in our hearts and home, 14 years hence. We hope she is leading a better life somewhere, and will meet us again.
A humble effort to commemorate her from our side is a small marble temple installed over her grave. It is a celebration of her life, which was nothing less than magic.