That Constant Called Love

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Sangeeta and Manoj were married since nearly 40 years. They made a living by collecting and ironing people’s clothes in a residential colony in Delhi. The residents shared a warm relation with the couple that had been working in their locality for close to 40 years. Some remembered them from as early as their childhood. Their dearest memory was that of the couple giving them toffees as they distributed them to the neighbourhood children on either of their son’s birthdays. The aged ones remembered them from their very first day at work. Sangeeta, a slim, meek but beautiful and elegant newly wed, and Manoj, tall and lean with broad shoulders, a young man of honor and full of humility. From their very first day, their simplicity and honesty mixed with passion and assiduity was not hidden from the residents. All in all, the couple’s journey had been a long one and both were admired by the residents for despite the natural corporeal transformations taking place over time, there was no change in their disposition.

Every morning, Manoj, now nearly 70 years old, rode himself and his wife, who recently turned 63, to work on his bicycle. They had built a concrete platform for themselves to work on against the west wall of the locality’s park and under an old banyan tree which though planted inside the park, it’s long leafy branches offered them shade even outside. After parking their bicycle, Manoj would take out an old ancient iron from under the platform and start it off with coal. In the meanwhile, Sangeeta took a round around the neighbourhood, collecting the clothes to be ironed for the day. Sangeeta then sat next to Manoj while he worked, chatting with him simultaneously so as to keep him company. After a laborious 3 hours, she would take out a long lunch box and the two would have their lunch in the park. Sitting on the cool grass and surrounded by the scent of a rich and watered flora, the couple enjoyed their lunch of chapattis, lentils and vegetables prepared by Sangeeta. After finishing it, Manoj would spread a sheet on the grass in the shade of the same banyan tree that had kept the direct rays of the sun away from him as he worked, and took his afternoon siesta while his wife went to chat with the househelps, free after finishing their day’s work. She would then start ironing the remaining pile of clothes while her husband took some rest. Once awake, Manoj would bring two glasses of chai from a tea stall nearby, and ask his wife to take rest and sit with him for a cup of tea. For the remaining part of the day, the two took turns to finish the remaining clothes and worked till twilight fell.

Such was their routine since years, as the residents had observed. Even though they had both begun suffering from health issues as they progresses in age, the wife from a heart disease and the husband palpably feeling the pain of years hardwork in his back and shoulder, yet they supported each other urging one another to go on, not letting age abate their spirits. The residents of the area thought perhaps they had financial hardships that forces them to work with such ardor. But one fine day, one of the housewife’s, Mrs. Kapoor, watched as the couple got off a Maruti WagonR and warmly bid adieu to whoever was seated on the driver’s side.

Curious to know who the humble workers’ acquaintance was, the lady approached them and inquired, “Namaste Sangeeta ji! You both didn’t come on your bicycle today?”

Sangeeta replied with pride, “We were stepping out this morning but our son said he had work in this area and offered to drop us. We declined at first but agreed later, not wanting to hurt his feelings.”

The lady, surprised, asked, “Oh, was that your son driving the car?”

Manoj replied, “Yes, that was Karan, our youngest son. He works in a multinational company.”

And so the lady discoverd that the couple wasn’t infact financially tied. They had an elder son who worked in a pharmacy, and the younger one held a respectable post in the MNC. Both were doing well, by God’s grace. Then why, she wondered, did Manoj and Sangeeta find the need to press other people’s clothes.

Sangeeta, shared a smile with Manoj and explained, “We have been coming here together every morning ever since we got married. At first it was a necessity to support our family and assure our children a bright future.”

“Once our children grew up and became independent, we were already habituated in our routine,” continued Manoj. “Also, at our age some activity is necessary so as not to fall in the arms of any terminal illness. But by and by we realized it wasn’t just health and financial reasons making us wake up every morning to the same day since years. It was infact the fact that we had an activity to do in each other’s company every day, an activity allowing us to spend some quality time without any hassles or interruptions. That was the reason behind our willingness and what kept us going.”

“The period during which I took to bed after my heart attack, Manoj used to leave home late for work and come back as early as the first ray of sun retiring for the day. Everyone thought it was because he was unable to manage all the work on his own, but I know it was the weight of the presence of my absence which made him come home early. But even the hours we spent at home weren’t enough because we were always surrounded by someone or the other : our grandchildren and daughter-in-laws during the day, joined by our sons in the evening. Not that we mind. We love them immensely and they us. We are a family. But we got used to spending hours in the company of one another,” said Sangeeta with a twinkle you only see in the eyes of a teenager in love.

Manoj giving a loving look to his wife continued, “Even if she doesn’t speak to me, just her presence is enough to keep me going all day long. We are comfortable even in each other’s silence. There are days when we fight, we snap at each other, we get irritated with each other and are miserable in the company of the other person. But we are so used to being together all day long that even being miserable is something we prefer doing together. There are times when we have a big fight and she says she won’t sit with me till I understand my mistake. But when she leaves, it feels like a mountain is weighing on my heart, and I’m slowly getting crushed beneath it. She knows this and feels the same way so she comes back every time after 15 minutes.”

His wife laughed, “Our children don’t like seeing us labour all day long and insist we stay home so they can look after us. They try to make their point by pointing out that they are earning well and enough to not only take care of themselves, but also of us. What they don’t understand is that money isn’t what we seek, but time with each other even after all these years.”

Mrs. Kapoor was profoundly touched by the couple’s story, and narrated it to her neighbours. They all saw Manoj and Sangeeta in a different light and they felt a respect towards them deeper than before. It amazed them to see that even after years of companionship, the flame between them, far from being extinguished, its luminosity only got brighter each day. In a world where people allowed minor misunderstandings and uncompromising hardheadedness to ruin their relationships, where baseless day to day arguments and discord lead to divorce, there was this couple who longed to be with each other, whether happy or sad, on good days or bad days, annoyed or loving, even in sickness as in health, they yearned for each other’s company.

 Several months had passed, the neighbours smilingly observed the couple as they arrived each morning on their bicycle and began their day’s work. Instead of only seeing their hardwork and exhaustion, they now saw profound affection in the couple’s demeanour. Every action manifested the love the two felt for each other, whether it was when Sangeeta sat beside Manoj as he ironed clothes, asking him to rest and allowing her to take over from time to time, getting upset if he overstrained his aching back from bending downwards, but serving him an extra chapatti on days when the pile of clothes was mountainious, fanning him with a newspaper as he napped post lunch. Or when Manoj, tenderly passed her a warm cup of tea before anyone else as they sat for a session of gupshup (chit-chat) with their friends, made sure she took her afternoon medicines, scolding her if she had been ignorant, but napping in her lap the days they had had a fight, as she fanned him with a newspaper. Every action, demonstrative or simple, exhibited their love.
One monsoon day, as the grey clouds loomed in the sky, the couple was nowhere to be seen. Mrs. Kapoor thought it was perhaps the rain that prevented them from coming. But as the monsoonal rains hit the ground incessantly, day and night, night and day again, the days progressed, but there was no news of Sangeeta and Manoj. Finally on the tenth day, Mrs. Kapoor asked her househelp to pay them a visit on her way back home from work, and inquire about the couple’s absence.
The following day, the clouds were thick and the sky was dark with thunder and flashes of lightning. When the househelp came to work, Mrs. Kapoor could tell just by looking at her face that something was not right and asked her what had happened. She told her employer, her voice low and full of pain, that Sangeeta had passed away. It turns out the last day they both came to work, Sangeeta had been complaining of nausea all day long which is why they had left early from work. Once home, she went to bed without even having dinner. But she never woke up. Doctors said she had suffered from a cardiac arrest. They found an open but uneaten tablet in her bag. Turns out she had taken out her medicine after Manoj’s reminder, but had somehow forgotten to eat it. She also sadly informed the lady that Manoj, after the demise of his beloved wife, did not wish to come to work anymore. Now that the purpose was lost, his willingness to go to the place he spent all his days with the person he cherished most, was also dead.
The lady couldn’t wrap her head around this devastating news and couldn’t stop the tears coming out of her eyes. It broke her heart to realize that the best and most loving souls are at the centre of life’s worst tests. But sometimes it’s that void, that pain, that emptiness, that feeling of nothingness within us that pushes us to discover the most beautiful and unexplored corners of our heart. She prayed for the same to happen with Manoj.. While she was lost in her reverie, it began to rain heavily outside and the sky roared. It was as though it were also shedding tears and mourning for the separation of the lovers.
When the other residents learned of this heartwrenching news, they decided to visit Manoj and his family and pay their condolences. He was a different man altogether. He used to speak of how even misery was something he and his wife could take on, but only in the presence of each other. Otherwise, he had said, it was as if a mountain were weighing on him crushing him little by little. The residents witnessed this when they saw their dear clothes-presser again. It seemed as if he were getting crushed under not only one mountain, but a whole range. And he only spoke of reuniting with his darling wife.
“Until then, he said, my love will only grow stonger and deeper, as will hers as she awaits my arrival in God’s land.”
He also informed the residents that, although he didn’t have the will to continue working, he had spoken to one of his nephews. Henceforth, it is he who would take his place as the locality’s ironer. With heavy hearts, the residents asked him to come and visit them any time he deemed fit, and bid him adieu.
The next day, as the sun came out shining brightly, leaves and flowers glistening as they bathed in it’s rays, everyone was eager to meet Manoj’s nephew. Soon they saw a tall young man, in his late 20s with a muscular built riding on a bicycle with a young lady, about 25 years old, seated behind him. They halted before the platform built by Manoj and Sangeeta, and parked their bicycle next to it. From underneath the platform, the man took out Manoj’s ancient iron and began to start it up with coal. In the meanwhile, they saw the lady, presumingly his wife, heading towards Mrs. Kapoor’s house. Mrs. Kapoor, hearing her doorbell, went to open the door to this simple young lady. The lady introduced herself as Shalini, Manoj’s younger brother’s daughter-in-law. She and her husband, Satpal, had taken up Manoj and Sangeeta’s job, and would be ironing everybody’s clothes henceforward. Mrs. Kapoor also learned that the couple got married 2 years ago. Until now, her husband had been working for the Public Works Department, but following his aunt’s demise, decided to help out his uncle, who he loved and revered dearly.
After collecting the Kapoors’ and other households’ clothes, Shalini returned to her husband. While he worked, she sat beside him, keeping him engaged in light conversation. At 1 o clock, Satpal took out a lunch box from a satchel, and the two walked towards the park. They looked for some shade to sit and have their lunch. They chose the shade of the old banyan tree, under which Sangeeta and Manoj had been enjoying their lunch since years. After lunch, Satpal helped his wife clear the waste. Then he spread a sheet on the freshly cut grass, lay in his wife’s lap and fell into slumber as she passed her fingers through his hair. Once he was asleep, Shalini slid from beneath him and returned to the platform. While he slept, she met the househelps, who were on their way back home, and got acquainted with everyone. Then she started ironing the clothes that lay untouched. Once awake, Satpal saw his wife had ironed a huge pile and that sweat had begun to drip down her forehead. He quickly brought a cup of tea for her along with biscuits and asked her to take some rest. While she reposed, he took over the work she had been doing, chatting with her simultaneously. Even as the sun began to dissolve into the darkness of the night, the two did not seem to feel the burden of a long and tiring day’s work.
What the couple did not realise was that Mrs. Kapoor had been observing them since morning. As the sun went down and as she saw the young couple, so simple so modest, wrapping everything up and getting ready to start homeward, she couldn’t help herself from smiling while thinking how everything changes unchangingly. Nothing stays the same she thought. The sun goes down and the moon comes up. A shoot grows a bud and the bud further blooms into a flower and then the flower withers and finally falls. Babies grow into adolescents and adolescents into adults. Happiness changes to sorrow. And one day life changes to death. But yet, even as this inexorable metamorphosis takes place each day, everything somehow stays the same, as if only circling around a hula-hoop. Dawn sees the darkness give way to light again, every day without cease. As the sun goes down in one country, another sees it’s first ray at the same time. Happiness doesn’t last. But neither does sorrow. Happiness finds it’s path again and so the cycle continues. Where the withered flower falls, another commences to bloom. Where one life ends, another begins. Where one couple separates, another unites. And so while everything changes, the universe always maintains it’s equilibrium. And amidst this chaos of unchanging changes, one thing that remains constant, providing support to the changes so they rest unchanged, that one constant is love.
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Tales of a Righteous Pariah

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Once upon a time there was an Indian pariah named Sandy. She lived on the street and protected her territory with her pack even though she questioned the existence of marked territories and the purpose it served. She found it difficult to comprehend why everyone couldn’t live together in harmony, why they found the need to mark their areas and exercise authority over them, why everyone fought for freedom yet created constraints for their own selves in a way that they could not even walk freely, where they wanted to, go where they wished to, explore places they wanted to. But like all her ancestors, she made peace with it and fought with docile loyalty and lived each day protecting her territory.

One fine day, as she was out in the neutral zone, a park in the middle of territories marked by her own and another dog pack where all were free to forage for food and repose, she met young Bruno, another pariah belonging to the opposition pack. He glanced at her and it was love at first sight for both of them. But alas, as had been the rule pariahs were only allowed to marry and mate within their pack. After a lot of discussion and arguments amongst and between the two packs, that had coexisted in peace until now, Sandys’ reached the decision that the two would be allowed to marry but under one condition : Bruno had to leave his pack and join them. Now as was expected, this infuriated the other pack. Bruno also wanted to stay loyal to his people who had been by his side during ups and downs, and so he declined the offer. After many more incensed arguments and much deliberation, the two packs reached the decision that the two lovers would be allowed to marry each other but they would have to stay with their respective packs and meet only in the neutral zone where the two had met for the first time.

After their marriage, Sandy and Bruno met and spent time with each other everyday in the park while fulfilling their responsibilities towards their respective packs. Soon after, Sandy got pregnant with Bruno’s puppies. While the two were ecstatic, their happiness was short-lived for this announcement started a new argument between the two packs.. The puppies would be born, but which pack would they belong to?

As the relationship between the two packs worsened and arguments got more heated, Sandy and Bruno worried for the lives of their unborn babies. They decided to go see Sir Randy, an old pariah who was known as ‘The Enlightened One’ for he had the power to interact with the Creator and was known to solve the miseries of many.

Sandy confessed her fears to Sir Randy, “Sir, my babies are not even born yet and everyone is already fighting to exercise their control over them, without even taking their parents’ wishes into consideration. I don’t want my little babies to enter this dirty sefish greedy world that is only fighting for power they won’t die with and probably won’t even be remembered for. I’d much rather they were not born at all rather than living in this horrible world.”

Sir Randy smiled at her and replied, “Don’t worry my child. Don’t underestimate your unborn puppies. The Creator has created one amongst them with so much care and with special attention, the kind that comes once in a while into this world, one that has the power to make a change. This one may seem feeble but will be braver than warriors, this one may not have the loudest bark, but his or her words will resound, this one may not be the wisest but will have one of the purest hearts, this one may underestimate himself but with trial and error and his or her strong will and determination, will reach his destination. So go home my child, and await the birth of your babies. The world will change soon enough.”

Still not entirely convinced but not knowing what else to say, Sandy returned home, still unsure, still full of inhibitions. As the day of the birth of her puppies approached and the dispute between the two packs worsened, Bruno and Sandy decided to stay inside the park, using pieces of carboard discarded by humans to block all gaps between the fence and the park gate, barring members of their respective packs from entering it. They had decided to live in the park till their puppies were born and grew up, then they would find a way out somehow. They heard the two pack memebrs barking at them every day, threatening to kill them and their puppies as soon as they stepped out. Seeing the pregnant dog’s condition, humans coming to the park took pity on them. The gardener made a small shed where Sandy, Bruno and their soon to be born puppies could live.

After a few weeks the much awaited day arrived and Sandy gave birth to five of the most adorable puppies. Now they say the way a child behaves is sometimes an indication of what he would be like when he grows up. And from the day she was born, Cookie, the youngest of the five puppies, was a force to be reckoned with. Her parents and siblings may not have noted this, but she already possessed qualities that would make anybody love her, laugh, fear her, be spellbound and impressed by her, all at the same time. She started giving the first signs of her bravery and intelligence just a few days into the world. As much as she loved napping all day long, she was a curious one and wanted to know what purpise ghose four little fleshy sticks at the bottom of her body served. One morning, while all her family members slept, she was wondering how to use those sticks when an unfamiliar scent entered her nose. Being confined to a corner in the park, this was a new smell to her and she thought with fear, the source of this smell could be a possible threat to her and her family. She fidgeted here and there, not knowing what to do, those four fleshy sticks coming in her way. But she was determined to save her family more than herself. Suddenly she felt she was somehow at a more exalted level and realised those four sticks were absolutely straight, balancing her body and if she moved them she could move forward and backward. Et voilà! Cookie was the first of the five siblings to stand and walk.

After a brief internal celebration, she saw two humans just going around the park repeatedly. She thought, “Now why would anybody just walk around the park so early in the morning for no rhyme or reason? This has to be a conspiracy. They must be a part of that doggie gang mommy talks about and they are out here to get us. They may be bigger than me but I won’t be scared. I have to save my family!” Just 6 days old, little Cookie hid behind a tree, waiting to scare, sniff and scan these intruders and see what they wanted. Just as those two innocent human beings, out for their morning walk were talking about how adorable those 5 tiny puppies were, brave little Cookie creeped out from behind that bush, making those two jump. She stood in the middle of the walking track, blocking their way as they neared her family’s shed, and just stared at them. Those two understood the little devil’s intention and didn’t know whether to laugh or be scared. But what they did feel was immense love for the puppy and were highly impressed. So as to not disturb her or her family again, they started taking half rounds of the park. Proud of her achievement, Cookie returned to the shed, observing the two from afar. This continued for a while. Even during the day, when any human entered the park, Cookie would go sniff the new intruders and allow them in only after thorough investigation, and sometimes ofcourse after being fed some biscuits or bread by the intruder or being petted by him, although she never understood what made them pet her and love her and play with her so much. The innocent soul, unaware of the effect her inner beauty and bravery had on them, was left puzzled each day.

Now their mother forbade the little angels from stepping out of the park, not wanting them to face the filthy world awaiting them outside, trembling at the thought of everything they might encounter and scared if she would ever see them again if they left. But she had nothing to fear as far as her youngest was concerned. As each day passed, Cookie grew more inquisitive. One day she thought, “All these people who come into our park come from the “outside world”, as mommy calls it. But I haven’t met even one who has been mean to me or my family. Then why can’t we leave this park and explore that world? Maybe if I go out, I can change whatever is wrong with it?” As she posed this question to her mother, her mother got nervous and was adamant to never let her out. She said, “You’re the youngest, the most innocent of us all. You think you’re brave but there’s a difference between confronting humans who come to this park with the purpose of feeding you or playing with you or pointing that weird mirror at you that shows your face and captures it. But the world that’s outside, it is waiting to break you and you are too young and too kind to face them.”

As she went to sleep, Cookie’s curiosity only increased. She was pining to step outside just to understand better what her mother was saying, if nothing else, and maybe try and change whatever’s wrong out there. So she decided, when the park lights went out and her family went to sleep, she would sneak out from under the park gate as she was still tiny enough to do so, and venture out into the real world.

That night she quickly finished her dinner provided by the nice humans living in the neighbourhood, and waited for everyone to go to sleep. Her mother wondered why Cookie was so restless but decided not to question her, of course unable to anticipate what was going on in her youngest child’s mind. The family was ready for bed soon after dinner. Cookie lay next to her siblings, away from her parents, waiting for the sound of her mother’s steady and rhythmic breathing and her father’s snores.

As soon as the sound reached her ears, she got up quietly, tiptoed towards the gate, gave her family one last glance, and slid outside from under the gate after a soft sigh. And there she was. Outside the park. In the “real world”. Away from her family. She looked left and right. The tall buildings, the huge cars. Everything fascinated her. “How fun would it be to take a nap on those comfortable seats inside the cars, to wag your tale with the wind blowing through your fur as you look out the window”, she thought. She was amazed by the size of those houses and dreamed to lived in them, even though she couldn’t contemplate why humans needed such huge spaces to survive. I mean all she had was a comfortable little shed that she shared with her family and where she felt so cozy as they snuggled next to each other at night. That’s all one wants isn’t it? And perhaps some biscuits and chocolates and a view of the sky at night with tiny spacecrafts that are visible from time to time that mommy says carry people from one place to the other.

As she marveled and mused over her surroundings, she saw a little boy whistling and walking infront of her. Now considering what a great experience she had had with humans until now, she got excited to see one. As she went up to the boy and sniffed him to get familiar so she could play with him later, he jumped with a start and started shooing her away. Thinking it was a new game, she start going near him again, and before she knew it the kid started pelting her with stones. She ran from there and whimpered in pain not knowing what to do and how to react. “This wasn’t supposed to happen”, she thought. “Humans are supposed to be nice aren’t they?” She started sobbing after her first experience in the outside world. But then she stopped herself and thought, “No! I won’t give up so easily. Yes this isn’t what I expected but it’s okay, this is just the beginning. Mommy told me the outside world was filthy but when people from this very world came to my park, I was able to change them and maybe I can change them when they are outside. Besides, filth can always be cleaned.”

With this thought she got up and continued exploring this new world. Suddenly she heard something behind her, a low growl. As she turned around she was facing five Indian pariahs. She suddenly felt happy for she faced those belonging to her own breed. They probably knew her parents and could accompany her on her journey. Getting excited she began, “Hi! I’m Cookie! I’m Sandy and Bruno’s youngest pup! Do you know them? Have you been friends with them? Do you also have puppies? Maybe we could all get together and play?!”

What she didn’t know was that these pariahs were from her mother’s pack and had vowed to kill her and her entire family. The leader of the pack smiled wickedly, happy that his prey had finally come to him. He welcomed Cookie and said he would definitely introduce her to his own children, but before that he wanted her to meet his dad’s side of the family also. He howled to call members of Bruno’s pack, went up to the leader and explained the situation to him. Soon the two, with the other members, approached Cookie, who was staring at them with awe and excitement. Soon little Cookie was surrounded by 10 Indian pariahs, all double in size, experienced and growling at her giving her deadly looks sweeping the smile off her face. Unable to understand what was going on she stammered, ” Wh-Wh-What’s going on guys? I thought we were family?” The leaders of the two packs laughed and growled at her, and told her everything that had happened before her birth and how they were going to kill her. Petrified and unable to find a way out, Cookie requested the two packs to talk and try to understand her parents first. But before she could finish her sentence, they pounced on her and started biting her. She protested and howled, trying to get out of their grasp but their grasp was too tight. Suddenly she noticed, one of the dogs had an injury on his body which was still fresh. Thinking that could help her escape, she just placed her paw on his wound and he whimpered in pain. Suddenly all dogs had their attention on their fellow pariah. Quickly getting out of their hold, Cookie rushed towards the park gate as they ran after her, and quickly slid back in from where she had went outside.

Completely broken and grieving in pain, for one of her legs was injured badly, she started crying. She had gone outside with so much hope but she felt shattered after her little adventure. She realised life outside really was difficult. People belonging to your own species were good to you inside the park but were evil outside. Those belonging to your own clan only wanted to get to you. She felt completely despondent and hearing her cries, her mother woke up. Seeing her child’s condition she rushed towards her demanding what had happened and how she had ended up like that. Cookie told her mother everything between sobs, leaving her mother completely stunned. “You were right. I thought if I went outside and understood why everyone behaves the way they do, I could change them. But mommy I couldn’t even find one reason and I give up. I don’t want to be pelted again with stones and bitten by anyone again”, said Cookie.

But her mother, still quite perplexed after her child’s confessions, said, “No. I don’t want you to lose hope in yourself or in the world at such a young age. I don’t want you to think that being determined and passionate about something always leads to failure. I probably shouldn’t have projected the entire world outside as evil before you. Even each one of those dogs outside is one of our own and all aren’t even evil. They are just blinded by society’s projection of power and authority as a form of superiority over others. They spend the entire day fighting and barking for territories marked by whom and why, noone knows. They don’t understand they could spend the same amount of time with their families or making new friends from other packs or just enjoying the pleasures of life. How different are we from humans then? But I don’t want you to lose hope in yourself. It is souls like you that can help change how this world functions and I don’t want you to give that up.”

“But mommy, what can I do about this? No matter what I do I’m not going to accomplish and achieve anything.”

“Don’t think of it as an achievement or an accomplishment, my child. Think of how you would like to live and why you would like to live each day like that. Picture it. You’ve been out there now. Just think patiently of what you want to change and why you want to change it. Just think of what means should be used to get there and then just go for it. Success or failure doesn’t matter. But your trying fearlessly to be where you want to be is what matters”, said Sandy looking lovingly at her daughter.

Cookie felt better after talking to her mother and wiping her tears away, she decided to do what her mommy had asked her to do and then perhaps try going out there again. It scared her but she was willing to do it to live in a peaceful friendly world.

The next morning, Cookie didn’t go up to sniff and play with any of the humans. Even the ones who regularly came to her had lost her trust. But she decided to go back out there even after everything that had transpired the night before. She summoned up some courage, said goodbye to her mother who showered her with blessings and let her daughter go and make a change in the selfish world. Cookie, less enthusiastic this time, slid hesitantly out of the gate.

As soon as she stood and looked up, she saw the dogs from last night bunking outside, waiting for her arrival. She wanted to approach them but the pain in her leg reminded her of the bites from last night and she froze in her spot. As one of the leaders of the pack saw her and stood up grunting, she got scared out of her wits and quickly slid back into the park. Seeing her mother she wailed, “Mommy I can’t do it. I tried but I just can’t. I want to so badly but I’m just unable to. I’m scared. I just want to be left alone.” She walked away from her family, that stood there helplessly with faces full of concern, and sat under a bench nearby. As she was lost in reverie, she saw the legs of a boy who had come to sit on the bench. He was wearing shorts so she saw he had hurt his leg and was bleeding. Remembering her own pain in the leg, she felt sorry for the boy and went out and started licking his wound lovingly, without seeing his face. Touched by the little pup’s affection, the boy lifted her up into his lap and started petting her. She heard sobs coming from the boy. As she looked up to lick his face, she realised it was the same boy that had pelted her with stones the previous night. She shook with fear and tried to get out of his lap. But the boy stopped her and started kissing her softly where he had hurt her and started apologizing, unaware that the little one could understand everything. He noticed how she had also hurt her leg, went home to get a first aid kit and started dressing her leg.

And it was in that moment that Cookie understood the power of the weapons called love and kindness. It was then that she understood the concept of karma. And it was then that she decided to go out there again and fight for what she believed in and try to be where she wanted to be. After the boy was done with her, she took his first aid kid in her mouth and to the surprise of her family, started limping towards the gate, still scared but somehow with more confidence and determination.

She slid out of the park with a bit of hesitation. The dogs were still there. They saw her approaching them with the kit in her mouth, and stood up wondering what exactly this little twit wanted right before her death. She went up straight to the dog that was injured the other night, the one she had used to save herself and said, “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have hurt you when you were already wounded. I see you haven’t dressed up your wound yet. It can get infected. Let me do that for you please.” The confused wounded dog looked at the others unsure of what to say and seeing their own confused faces, he just nodded slowly. Cookie, like a pro human medico, dressed the dog’s wound with perfection even though she used only her mouth and paws. Even though they still wanted to kill Cookie, well at least they thought they did, the two pack leaders had lumps in their throats as they saw glimpses of their former pack members in that little puppy and they couldn’t help thinking, that’s probably why those two were so in love with each other and wanted to protect their babies. They tried getting rid of these thoughts and emotions but struggled with it. Especially when the little rascal turned towards them after carefully dressing up their dumbfounded friend’s wound, and said, “Now, before you guys say anything or try to kill me again I would just like to ask you, if you all can come together, cross each other’s territory for taking revenge against and killing me and my family, in short for hatred, why can’t you do the same thing, break all these invisible barriers to come together for love, for loyalty, for goodness? Doesn’t having loved ones, infact increasing the number of your loved ones, make you feel more superior and stronger and give you more peace? Will killing the ones you still love deep down, the ones who have never harmed you, have always fought with you and did something only to protect those who are also a part of your family, will killing them truly give you peace? If you can give an affirmative answer to this question, then I will surrender myself to you and you can do as you please. But just be honest with yourselves.”

Noone had ever thought such a young mind could influence the minds of much older and much more experienced people to the extent of bringing tears to their eyes. Both the leaders went up to Cookie and made him the centre of the tightest group hug as tears rans down there eyes. Sandy’s pack leader said, “I was right. You are your mother’s daughter in the truest sense. And you are right, the answer to your question is a no. You have opened my eyes today. If your father’s pack leader agrees with me I would like for you and your family to come out of the park and I would like apologize to them for all my sins. I would also like to erase these invisible boundaries and make both zones where all can walk freely.”

“I completely agree and feel ashamed to have treated you the way we did, my child. I didn’t admit it, but even after last night I couldn’t sleep with the fact that I had treated the daughter of one of my most loyal pack members in such a  disgraceful manner. I would also like to remove all boundaries and live as one”, said Bruno’s pack leader.

Cookie exulted with surprise and joy for she had succeeded in doing what she had wished to do, and quickly slid inside the park and announced the good news to her family, licking her mother fervently for believing in her and guiding her in moments of despair.

The family soon stepped out of the park and was welcomed by members of not only those two packs, but also of others who had heard of Cookie’s little tale and were inspired to break more barriers.

It had been a month, the family was living in harmony with many other dog families and after much exploration of the extended area, had decided to move to another park. A little pig family lived nearby. Cookie met the family’s little piglet, Ollie, one fine day. She was about the same age as Cookie and the two ended up becoming friends. One day Cookie told Ollie all about her life in the other park, her little adventure back there. After listening to everything with utmost fascination, Ollie said with a smile, “This just goes to show that if we are sincere and determined enough, if we believe in something with the utmost conviction, if we believe in the power of love and kindness, if we are good to others even in a selfish evil world, we can end up changing the way the world functions and become heroes of stories that are passed on from person to person, from generation to generation, and we live on even after we die. All we need is belief in ourselves.”

And she said so rightfully.