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Akbar and his DogI must have first noticed Pillu, when he was hanging around the biriyani eatery around the corner. A lot of dogs used to hang around over there and one of them had raised and weaned pups who’d also taken to haunting the joint for scraps which they got in plenty, especially at the day’s end.There was nothing special about him apart from the fact that his tail could wag at super speed making it almost seem like a blur and he had a special move, which was fondly named ‘Dhoni’s helicopter shot’ going by how it went round and round in a circular motion, much like the swing of the former Indian cricket captain’s bat.He was a regular, cute little brown and white pup. Lively, bright eyed, eager for a scratch behind the ear or a belly rub and always up for a play session. Right behind the biriyani eatery was an empty plot which was occupied by temporary migrant settlers, most of whom were Assamese farmers who’d lost their farms and property in the Brahmaputra floods.They could have very well been Bangladeshi migrants but nobody bothered them and they had taken up jobs of road side repairs, civic garbage collection, and some of them worked as domestic help. There must have been three to four families, most of them relatives or related to each other. Women, girls, children of different age groups, men and boys, with each family living in their temporary makeshift tarpaulin and bamboo hut. It was a hard life and one wouldn’t expect a young teenage boy from such a place to have much sympathy or affection for lesser creatures seeing as slum kids get treated like trash by the entitled society most of the time. But Akbar was different. He was kind, sensitive, playful with the dogs, soft spoken and polite.It was him who told me told me that his pup’s name was ‘Pillu’, when I asked him if he takes care of the dog, as he was engaged in a session of belly rubs. He said that they all come and go in their settlement and sleep under their cots in winter when it’s too cold outside. He’d won me over with that simple response, and just like that we became unlikely friends, a slum kid with an unfinished education and a private school teacher who taught at a school in a posh neighbourhood.Seeing that in vernacular a young pup is called ‘pilla’, Akbar’s naming of his pup was barely imaginative; it was actually very generic and bland. But it was Akbar’s protectiveness and his eagerness to care for the dogs that impressed me. One afternoon while walking down the lane, I found Pillu crouching under the paan stall, and like usual, I called and whistled to him to come out, but he stayed put and nervously wagged his tail. I was trying to coax him out when Akbar came and gently pulled the pup from under the stall, talking softly to him. He wore an upset frown and in a subdued voice he told me, that a guard from the under construction building around the corner had hit Pillu badly and he had been so badly scared, that he’d been hiding away since then. I had to find this guard, and so I did, giving him a warning and an earful, and came back to assure Akbar that the guard won’t be hurting his dogs again.Pillu grew over the seasons, and fed on the scraps of meat and bones from the eatery, he grew up quite nicely indeed.The season turned and summer holidays was upon us at the school. I had to go to my hometown for a month but Akbar who didn’t go to a school had no such plans. He and Pillu looked ahead to a hot and stuffy summer with time to idle away and play.When I returned after a month, I went out to meet my new found friends but Pillu couldn’t be found hanging about at the eatery where he usually stayed. No one answered my calls and whistles, so I asked the people at the settlement. They shrugged casually and said they had no idea. Akbar was also not around at the time so I decided to come back later in the evening.When I went back again, I found Akbar and he told me that while I was away Pillu had met with an accident and lost part of his tail. He brought out the pup from inside the makeshift hut and what I saw overwhelmed me.The sweet little pup who was gorgeous and healthy just a month ago had lost so much weight that his ribs stuck out and his tail was raw, mutilated and skinned to the bone. Yet the little pup was happy to see me and wagged his tail as he did on so many occasions before.I had seen enough infected tissues to know that he needed a decent amputation or infection could set in any day. I told Akbar that I would take Pillu to a proper doctor since he had not been attended by a proper veterinarian yet. The only treatment he had was from a local rescuer who had cleaned his wound and given him a couple of shots of antibiotics.By the end of that night, I had set up an appointment for Pillu with one of the best veterinarians in the city, who also specialized in orthopaedic surgeries, considering that we had to ampute the sharp piece of bone that was jutting out, barely covered in skin. So the next day, Pillu got into the front seat of the car with me and rode like a perfect little boy to the vet’s clinic which was a short ride away. The surgery didn’t take too long and in about fifteen minutes, his disfigured tail was skilfully transformed into a smooth little stump and neatly sutured over with healthy, skin which would be able to cover itself in fur in a couple of months. He was discharged after he regained consciousness with a schedule of pain medication, vitamins and antibiotics to follow. It was indeed a joy to see how well received he was by Akbar and his friends after his surgery. They couldn’t get over him and were simply excited to see him come back so soon with his tail neatly bandaged in spotless gauze and surgical tape. All was well in their little world.It became my job to go twice daily to their settlement and give Pillu his injections, for even on searching and requesting different sources, I could not find any para-vet who could administer the injections twice a day for five days. Though, I had never given injections before, I knew I had to do it or risk post-surgical complications arising from infections and I reckoned that intra muscular injections even by an untrained hand will not do as much damage as an infection would do to the pup. So after watching endless videos on ‘how to give intra-muscular injection to dogs’, I finally felt confident enough to administer the injection without causing undue discomfort to the patient.To watch videos is something else and to hold the needle in your hand and push it into flesh, piercing the skin and empty the syringe’s content into the patient is another thing altogether. It is not a job for those who are squeamish. I told Akbar’s sister Moni who was older than him, to hold Pillu comfortably but firmly in her lap as she squat down and in particular hold his legs so that he doesn’t kick out and escape midway through the injection. While Pillu did whine a little bit, the administration was a success and my confidence was boosted. In the days that followed, I administered the injections with ease and on the day of the dressing was supposed to be changed, I took off the bandage myself to find that his tail was healing perfectly. All it needed now was a topical medicine which the children took care to apply.With a better diet and pain from a mutilated tail no longer bothering him, Pillu soon regained his weight and was often seen romping alongside Akbar and his friends, up and down the lane. One particularly breezy night, as I stood on my terrace, I observed Akbar and Pillu having a moment of their own in a totally improvised game, on a huge pile of sand. Akbar sat on top of the mound, and Pillu would come racing to him, Akbar would grab him, tackle and push him away and he would pretend to run away, and then turn around and come for him again. This must have gone on for several minutes and the simple joy of it was fun to watch. It touched me as to how a boy who never went to school, who grew up in a slum settlement, an immigrant who had endured hardships showed such deep compassion for a non-human, and formed such true friendship with a dog, that he shared his home and heart with him. Perhaps the fact they both had next to nothing joined them in camaraderie, perhaps it was the fact that they were both outcasts, frowned upon by the elite urban dwellers who lived in chic bungalows; or perhaps because in their hearts, they were very much like each other and resonated like soul mates do.Months went by, and it became a daily routine for me to see Pillu sleeping peacefully on a mound of sand or in an empty handcart, as I made my way to school each morning.The house where I stayed was a rented one and as the year ended and rolled into a new school session, I finally quit the job I had for another at the other end of the city, it was time for me to move.I knew it would be hard to leave all the familiar faces of the dogs and the slum children around, but I was contended in my heart to know that my two favourite kids Akbar and Pillu would have each other’s backs.I knew Akbar’s family was moving out of the settlement and it went without saying that Akbar would be taking Pillu along to the next settlement which I was told was only a few lanes away. So I wanted to make use of this opportunity and say my official goodbyes. However I learnt that the family had already moved away. I asked about Pillu but the boys didn’t seem to know if Akbar had taken him and the dog was nowhere to be seen. I naturally assumed that he had gone with Akbar. Anything else was simply not possible.Few days went by and I finally saw Akbar cycling down the lane. I called out to him so that he would stop, and went down to talk to him. I asked him about his new place and found out that he had started work at his uncle’s auto repair shop. After the small talk, I asked him about Pillu and how he was adjusting, to which he told me Pillu was not with him. I stared at him for a moment, unable to understand what he meant.“But he’s not here, I assumed he went with you… Where is he?”He looked away for a moment and said “Pillu met with an accident. He is no more.”I felt like I had swallowed a brick. What did he mean by that? How come I never came to know? When did it happen, how? All kinds of questions were racing through my head.But all I could ask was “How did this happen… How come I didn’t even know?”“Didi, you know how Pillu had this bad habit of going to the main road. He had developed this habit while following me and I used to always send him back but recently he had gotten bolder. He would venture out there even without me and go up to the divider, crossing the busy road at great risk.”“This was just after I had shifted, that he had gone up to the road and it was either while going or returning that he was hit by a car and left badly injured. I got to know to know much later in the evening when somebody told me… I rushed to the spot but he was already dead. They had placed his body on the divider but they didn’t tell he till evening. I wish somebody had just told me!” There was anguish in his voice and his dark skinned face had turned visibly red. I could see that he was fighting back tears.“If someone had just told me then immediately, I would have come at once. I could have done something or at least be with him when he passed… but he died alone.”I wanted to comfort the young boy, who was about the age of the children I taught at school, but I could not hug him or sit him down next to me on the side of the road or even call him inside. The world with its invisible thresholds for each one of us, placed us on the edge of two very different worlds, where despite all our sentiments, similarities and human trials, we would always be veiled in our experience of each other.“I know what you must have felt Akbar… I wish I knew. Even I didn’t come to know. This has come as a shock to me.” All I could manage was a cursory pat on his arm to show my empathy.“You did so much for him didi. I wish he had lived more of his life. Just a little more.”‘Just a little more…’ I wondered as I pondered over our conversation later that day and for many days since.Just a little more… was all that he wanted out of life – this young boy who had seen so many ups and downs in his brief life. It was perhaps a predicament that was not unique to him but the fact that he wanted it not for himself but for a dog, who was born on the side of the street – was what made him unique. It’s what made Akbar and Pillu’s story unique.A friendship so rare and pure that blossomed under the gaze of the world, yet was hidden in plain sight only for those to discover, who had the gift of insight. So remember them, Akbar and his dog. You may remember them or think of them in the next lane you cross, and the next street urchin you find cuddling an armful of a street dog who looks like he’s in God’s own company when he looks up at his friend’s face. And I hope you get to experience some of what Akbar and Pillu had, and if you allow yourself into it, your life would be a richer – ‘just a little more’.~ In loving memory of Pillu ~
Traditional Art
Gohan - Dragon Ball. by Maurizio1994
Do you want a piece? by untuox
Highlamon of the Firma Three by RasglowReborn
Naiadmon of the Firma Three by RasglowReborn
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adopt OPEN auction by SkylarMeaw
Commission art  by 8Hotaru8
Finished digital YCH commission - Suzu by Inntary
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ROSALINA by thegavaath
So We finally meet... by xKamillox
Prologue: Angels Fall by Gewitter8
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