His Master’s Voice
written by: Dr Usha Sridhar
Let me introduce myself – I am Bruno, a golden retriever; and I have a master’s status in my family. I was just a pup when Kunal, the head of this household, brought me home. His wife’s name is Kavitha and he has three children- Jaya, Karan and Anu. It took me some time to adapt to this family and once I did, (with a lot of assistance from them) I just became another member of the family. I am the most loved and pampered member, sometimes I feel bad that I have usurped little Anu’s position. Over the years I have made an attempt to understand human nature, and just when I think I am succeeding in the task, they do something that puzzles me, and I end up at the drawing board to rework my views. I, however, think I have found a way out; I join in wholeheartedly in whatever they do, and it turns out to be a win-win situation for all concerned. When I am not in a mood to play the ‘zero sum game’, I admit that I unabashedly manipulate them to get what I want.
A typical day for me goes like this. I am up at five in the morning to join Kunal in an hour long run with him. This is the best part of the day, for the road is empty, it is pollution free and you don’t hear the honks of the impatient drivers driving their vehicles crazily to get the better of their counterparts. Kunal does not put me on a leash; he allows me to do my own thing while I trudge along with him. There are a lot of stray dogs out in the morning, I ignore them and they keep a safe distance from me. I also see some dogs on a tight leash accompanying their bosses. I mock them; they have no choice but to tamely follow their masters. They pretend not to notice me, or the freedom and joy with which I go along with Kunal. We stop by a park before we return home. I love to watch the birds in the park at ‘work’ so early in the morning. I finish the long glass of drink that waits Kunal and me at home, before I turn my attention to my next task. Kunal needs to relax a bit after the taxing run, while I am good and full of beans; rearing to tackle something else. I secretly wonder as to why Kunal takes the trouble to have this workout if it tires him so much; he needs to rest before he can consider attending to another task.
Kavitha loves to do her morning puja before she leaves for work. She reserves the elaborate version of the puja for the weekends when she has more leisure. I am a regular at the ceremony; the others generally give it a miss. In a way this is a big relief for me as I get all the benefits of attending the puja. I love the aarti and the prasad that comes with it, which I very devoutly devour. I have never understood why Kavitha spoke to the deities, lit a lamp and offered them prasad. It is so clear to me; but she fails to understand that the deities can neither hear nor eat what she gives them.
I have trained Ravi (our Man Friday) to give me bath while the others are getting ready. I am ready to eat and I have my breakfast with all of them, and if they are charitable, I have some of their breakfast along with my dog food. Since they are a generous and a large hearted family I generally get a large slice of their food; I can actually tell a visitor what we had for breakfast.
They all leave immediately after breakfast for work. We have only one house key and I am responsible for it, whenever I’m home. Whoever leaves the house last locks the door from the outside, throws the key in and informs me before leaving. Anybody who is familiar with this habit here would call out for me instead of ringing the bell. I check first before throwing the key out. I like the importance given, and their total dependence on me.
Ravi would have a lot of chores to complete in the day and I join him when he goes out shopping; I get a free ride in the car. I have learnt a lot, especially, time management and multi tasking from him.
I always give a helping hand to the gardener. He has a very tedious job in the garden like cleaning, trimming the plants, planting new saplings and of course protecting them from pests. He could do with an extra pair of hands and is grateful for my assistance. I also give him suggestions on which flowers to pluck to create the bouquets.
The cook comes around one in the afternoon. I like being around in the kitchen when she cooks and she likes my company. I love the various aromas that emanate from the room; the cook makes very delicious food – I can vouch for it. She pampers me a great deal; I always get to taste the food first before anyone else in the family does. I eat freshly cooked food every day - while the others take packed food that contains leftovers - to work.
The kids are the first to come home. Karan immediately leaves to play; Jaya goes for painting and Anu for gymnastic classes. The day invariably ends with watching TV for a short period. There are several TVs in the house since each likes watching a certain genre of programs. I never understood why they watched Saas-Bahu serials, news and entertainment channels. These shows are boring and I hate watching them. I love watching the sports channels; I have improved my game by watching various sports on the TV.
I support the family members in pursuing their hobbies. Jaya is training to be an artist and I oblige many times to model for her. I go out with her when she chooses to paint outdoors. She paints landscapes of the forests, waterfalls, valleys, mountains, fields to capture rural settings. Kunal is fond of carpentry and creates some very innovative stuff; Karan and I assist him in his endeavors. I enjoy doing gymnastics along with Anu; I end up being her prop sometimes. She is also learning to sing, but I have managed to have my song recorded before she could.
I am overjoyed when they include me in their family vacations; I like seeing new places and meeting new people. Photography is a passion of Kavitha and Kunal and I appear in most of their group portraits.
Why do they work so much when they can holiday all the time, I asked myself several times, puzzled. I don’t do anything and yet I sail through in life. I am neither stressed nor over worked and I get most of what I want in life. In fact I enjoy the benefits of the house more than the rest - I swim, eat, and romp around the garden on a whim.
Whenever I have gone to other houses (where there are dogs), I have noticed how they treat their dogs. Some families adore their dog and yet I think the dog does not enjoy the position I occupy in Kunal’s house. I am really lucky to have such a warm, loving, caring and liberal family. They say that even a dog has its day, but in my case I can easily say everyday belongs to me!
Glossary ( in local dialect)
Aarti: Form of worship
Saas-Bahu: Mother-in-law – Daughter-in-law
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Dogs have long been called man’s best friends. This tale is written in the style of an autobiography of a Golden Retriever, well established in a loving household.