Tuesday, January 25, 2011

for Desmond, Socks, Kajal Clone, Casper, Calliope,Charles Bucket, Kalahari and so many more.

'No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two'

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot.

I am no poet, but this is for you.

where have you gone my little cats?
Each day I call your names, and hope,
In vain perhaps, that you will return, if only just
To run away again.

Where have you gone my little cats?
Your food is kept each day, in the spot where
Just you liked to eat. And it stays there,
Till another, delighted at a second round,
Crunches it up.

Where have you gone my little cats?
Far away from my lap, the tickles and cuddles,
The slaps and fights with the others,
To a place I cannot reach,
To a wonder only you see.

Where have you gone my little cats?
Can you not hear me? Are you so far away?
I wait each day; attend to each sound,
Hope and perhaps pray,
That you come back today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stray dogs, poverty, instinct and madness

The mauling to death of Prashanto, the one year old son of a labourer couple by a stray dog was tragic and reminded us of a fact that is undeniable; that dogs have a pack instinct. They hunt what they perceive as easy prey though the motive may not be to eat it. To my knowledge no stray dog has eaten human flesh.

Prashanto was the seventh child of this couple. They have six daughters and he was the seventh child, the youngest. This couple had come from Orissa, are below the poverty line and were living is shanties constructed by a building contractor. It is reported that there were no doors or windows in any of these shanties.

Imagine everyday life for this couple. The daily wage for a labourer is meager. It is certainly not enough to feed a family of nine people. Their house has no door and therefore no protection, against dogs or anything and anyone else. It is probably not even enough to comfortably house nine people. Obviously the daughters do not go to school. Being migrant labourers, education, especially of daughters is out of the question. Warm meals, warm clothes, steady income and other basics are things they have no conception of. Theirs is a day to day existence.

So, what was Prashanto’s death really a failure of? The contractor who failed to provide them with a secure house? The parents who had seven children despite knowing the abject poverty they were living in? The Government who could not provide for families like them? The government again who has consistently failed to provide a humane Animal Birth Control Program and humane euthanasia of rabid, aggressive and diseased animals? The apathy of all of us who do not care for either families like Prashanto’s or the many animals who live, suffer and die on our roads?

We are so quick to react and mass kill stray dogs when incidents like this happen. A few years ago when a similar incident occurred, professional dog killers from Malabar were called in and they killed hundreds of dogs in the most inhumane manner imaginable. Did that make any difference to the dog population? When hundreds of dogs were poisoned to death all over the city, did that help? What good did it do to beat a stray dog to death and drag his body in triumph? None of these methods have worked to reduce the stray dog population.

Yet the government will not allocate adequate funds to sterilize and vaccinate stray dogs. It will not co-operate with Animal welfare Organisations to work with them to humanely reduce the stray dog population. This same government will not work towards the welfare of its poor either. It will instead arrest innocent people like Mr.Yadav who allegedly looked after the dog who killed Prashanto. How is that an answer?

Let us not become irrational and cry out for another bloodbath where hundreds and thousands of dogs are needlessly killed. We are, I hope far too civilized for that. Let us instead look at solutions that work and benefit all.