Champa recounts a true bedtime story about her mother. Many years later, the wheel turns full circle. Here’s an engrossing personal story by a wonderful storyteller.
This is a story about a small town girl and her pet.
This girl was different from her other three sisters. The sisters were happy to get married at early ages. This girl fought with her six brothers and decided to grow up as one of them. She played football and hockey with them and studied well too.
After completing her high school and college she not only joined the prestigious Allahabad University for a masters degree and did well but also represented her Alma Mater in all field and track events, competing with the better equipped British girls and winning many cups and shields, which was quite a feat in those pre-independent days.
But this story is not about her achievements or glory. This is a story about her and her pet. This girl had once brought home a stray pup. This pup, initially unwelcome, soon became a darling of the house. He used to sleep on a baby cot and never forgot to close the door of the loo before using the commode.
This girl used to go her University in a shared tonga every day. Nobody noticed that the pup, which was a big grown up dog by then, had sneaked out of their railway quarter compound gate and followed the girl’s tonga upto her University, which was quite far away from where they lived.
The girl too was not aware of being followed by her dog until the moment the huge canine walked majestically in the lecture room, found out her mistress and rested his tired body near her feet. This supposedly had created a lot of commotion among the other students in the room. The professor was furious and wanted the dog to be kicked out.
The girl of our story was surprised and embarrassed at the same time. She could not stand up and say to the class that it was her dog but assured her teacher that she would keep the dog on her lap and no one needed to feel scared.
The dog remained with her the entire day but before she got up into her tonga for the return journey she had to put him down. It wasn’t her dog after all, she wanted to prove. The faithful four legged one followed her back all the way and only when she reached home and opened the garden gate to usher the dog in that her other friends, her fellow travellers, realised that whose pet it was after all!
This girl of the story is none else but my Ma, my daughter’s Dida, her grandmom. This story is more than sixty-year-old. Ma would have been eighty-five, last March. This was one of the innumerable sleep time stories we have heard from her, as children. I can never remember Ma reading out stories from any book. She had her own sack full of anecdotes and tales which she loved sharing with us, two sisters and her grandkids. It is a pity that she never bothered to pen those down.
Today, when I shouted at my daughter for attending classes in her University, with strays comfortably perched on her lap and said that I know form which gene she must have got this weirdness in her, she smiled back and said, ‘the same one Mom, which makes you sit with your laptop in between your work and spin a mind-boggling tale’.
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