It was a beautiful summer morning in Ranchi. The sun shone over the dewdrops, making them glitter like diamonds. The birds were chirping melodiously.
And in the Gupta household, the smell of tea filled the air.
“Manju Gupta! Wake up! It’s 7 o’clock in the morning!” called Manju’s mother from the kitchen.
“Okay Mama!” said Manju as she jumped off her bed and put on her slippers.
She ran to her parents and hugged them.
“Good morning, Mama! Good morning, Papa!” she said.
“Good morning, my dear Manju,” her mother said, hugging her back.
“Should I go and get the newspaper, Mama?” she asked.
“Yes, it must be here by now,” replied her mother.
“And give this to Kalu, he must be feeling hungry,” she added, handing Manju a packet of milk for the little puppy that lived around the street corner.
As Manju raced to the gate, she heard a dog yelping as if it were crying out for help.
When she turned around, she was shocked to see a gang of hooligans hitting her dear little puppy with stones.
She rushed back home shouting, “Papa, help! Some naughty boys are throwing stones at Kalu!”
Her father got up at once and was facing the gang of hooligans in no time.
“What do you think you are doing?” he roared at them.That thundering voice was enough to scare the hooligans out of their wits. They fled the scene.
Manju rushed to the puppy’s aid right away.
“He’s bleeding, Papa!” she cried.
“Don’t worry about that, Manju. We’ll take him to the veterinarian right away. She’ll take care of him,” he said.
“Oh,” she said, wiping away her tears. “What does a vetenirian do, Papa?”
“They’re not called vetenirians, they’re called veterinarians, Manju. But you can simply call them vets. Vets take care of pets. They’re animal doctors,” he replied as they walked towards the car.
“He’ll take care of Kalu?” she asked as she got into the car.
“The vet we’re going to is a lady, Manju. But yes, she’ll help us restore Kalu’s health,” he answered as he began to drive towards the veterinarian clinic.
Manju stared into the eyes of the scared puppy resting in her lap and wondered how someone could be so insensitive towards the plight of other creatures.
She set up an alarm for five minutes on her digital wrist watch and thought about this.
The alarm went off. She still couldn’t fathom it.
But in that moment, she vowed to herself that whenever she witnessed such a situation again, she’d raise her voice and make sure the hooligans paid for their actions.
Just as she was done thinking this, she heard her father announce, “Alright Manju, we’re here.”
She looked out of the window and saw a sign that read “Veterinarian Clinic, specialising in dog care”
She gently carried the puppy into the clinic.
It was very early in the day, so there was no need to wait in the reception area for their turn to come. The receptionist asked them to head right into the doctor’s office.
“Good Morning, Mr. Gupta,” said the vet.
“Good Morning, Dr. Sarkar,” he replied.
“What do we have here?” she asked, turning her attention towards Manju.
“His name is Kalu, doctor. We found him bleeding on the street after Papa shooed away the hooligans who were pelting him with stones, Manju told the doctor as she handed over the puppy.
Manju saw the doctor observe Kalu’s wounds carefully. She took him to the sink, washed away the blood from his wounds and dried out his fur.
Then she walked up to the long rack by the side of the door and picked up three tubes. She applied different ointments to the wounds on different parts of Kalu’s body and bandaged it up, before handing Kalu back to Manju.
“I’ve dressed the puppy’s wounds, Mr. Gupta. I’d advise you to take care of him for a couple of weeks,” she said as she scribbled something on a piece of paper.
“Mix these pills with Kalu’s lunch for the next two weeks and then come back to me for a follow up checkup,” she said, handing over the prescription to Mr. Gupta.
“If his wounds have healed sufficiently by then, we’ll draw up a vaccination plan for Kalu,” she said, facing Manju and smiling. “That’ll protect him from diseases. But we can’t inject the vaccines until his wounds have healed, because that might make things worse,” she told Manju.
“Thank you for your help, doctor,” said Mr. Gupta.
“It was my job, Mr. Gupta,” said the doctor, smiling.
“Come on Manju, let’s go,” said Manju’s father, taking her hands into his.
Both of them got out of the vet’s office, paid the fees at the receptionist’s desk, bought Kalu’s medicine at the pharmacy and got into the car.
As soon as they reached home, they were greeted by Manju’s mother at the gate.
“I’ve always wanted to have a pet dog, Papa. Can we please adopt him, Mama?” Manju asked, as she carefully got out of the car with the puppy in her arms.
“Sure we can!” replied both her parents at the same time.
“Hurray!” exclaimed Manju with delight.
“Bring him to me as soon as he wakes up, okay, Manju? We need to feed him properly to nurse him back to health as quickly as possible,” said her mother.
“Okay, Mama,” she said, and headed towards the tyre-swing that hung by the mango tree in their garden, and still holding the puppy in her arms, she rocked him back and forth, to make sure he slept soundly.
“She wakes up early as it is,” said her father.
“And she used to play around with and take care of Kalu, previously anyway,” replied her mother.
“I think raising Kalu will make Manju more responsible,” said her father.
“And more compassionate, too,” said her mother nodding as she stared at her daughter gently holding the dog in her arms and singing a lullaby.
“She’s following in your footsteps, Reema,” she heard her husband say to her, “but she doesn’t know it yet,” he said, referring to the fact that Manju’s mother had been leading local efforts against animal cruelty for well past a decade now.
“She got her start a lot earlier than I did,” she said, smiling.
- Hooligan: a child causing mischief by being noisy or violent.
- Veterinarian: an animal doctor.
- Compassionate: a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.