Stories Apne Apne by Raj Deepali Pandey

I was going through the old picture album, nostalgic about the childhood which passed in a jiffy, while we spent our time waiting desperately for entering the adulthood.

I came across one of the photos of my pet, the German Shepherd, (we named him Tiger) clicked on the day we brought him home 19 years ago, on Christmas morning of 1999.

The little pup looked so cute and fluffy. I was just 5 years old at that time, but I have a blurred memory of that day. Every human present around him, from my family to the acquaintances and the neighbours, went gaga over that black little bundle of cuteness.

Everyone wanted to hold him, get pictures clicked with him. Those were the days when mobile cameras were not in existence, or even if they were, they must be exclusively owned by the elite and affluent class of the society.

So the reel camera which had a capacity of around 32 pictures in one go had to be used with great frugality. The cutest moment captured of him was when his ear used to drop and fold a little from the top, which melted my heart towards him.

Dogs are a great therapy for depression, as I have heard. True to some extent, I suppose. The videos of these pawed creatures with their human beings in the most playful and affectionate mood going viral all over the internet can make any heart melt in a second.

Childhood never knew what the word depression really meant, co-incidentally I was not a dog person too back then. Holding the little puppies gave me a feeling of warmth and playing with them felt good, but the big ones always scared me to death.

I maintained a safe distance from Tiger too once he grew up into a majestic creature. Now when he is no more, I think I should have tried to love him more, as now I can call myself a canophilist, and I don’t fear big dogs anymore. They are truly man’s best friend, if we try to understand the significance of love in their lives as well.

Back to the point, as I looked closely at his photo, it no more seemed cute or beautiful to me. All of a sudden I felt a guilt trip within my heart. I felt I could see the tears in his eyes. The sadness which no homo sapiens around him could fathom, though we regard ourselves the most intelligent beings.

But we failed to realise, or I should say we intentionally disregarded his emotions. Tiger, the little pup who was just few days old was separated from his mother, his siblings and the fellow dogs.

If a human baby would be separated from his mother against his will, even if he is given the luxurious treatment in his new household, it would be regarded as a cruel, inhumane and a punishable act. Because nothing can be regarded as more peaceful and fulfilling than a mother’s love. Then how we humans fail to recognize this basic instinct in animals.

We might be the most intelligent beings but unfortunately we are devoid of emotions. We felt happy bringing home a cute creature, at the cost of his tragic separation from his mother and siblings. Of course, some people would say fostering a pet is beneficial for it, and if not us then someone else would have bought him.

The point is, it’s the basic human trait,  disregarding others’ emotions in the quest for our own happiness. We want materialistic things as long as they are useful, and we discard them when they become obsolete.

What’s worse, we do the same with fellow humans. We love them, want them to stay in our life, not for their happiness but for our own. The moment we feel a sense of detachment we walk away, totally insensitive of the havoc we are wreaking in their lives.

Closing the photo album with a heavy heart, I realized that for once, if we could learn the art of empathy, life would become more beautiful, not just our own but also of the folks around us, or maybe also of the pets we claim to love unconditionally.