Ramu was perplexed!
He has not seen such faces and such expressions in men. They were going around him, encircling him, and were all carrying, menacing swords, machetes, sticks and steel rods. He was having his siesta under the tamarind tree. Its canopy was very thick that, from mid day it effectively eclipsed the hot sun light from burning down under. The shade offered cool and gentle breeze.
His master had hurried out this morning after chaining him to the iron pole that was entrenched into the ground. Ramu didn’t mind being chained or being unleashed during day. He was only particular that by late night he was left unchained so that he can effectively police the boundary of his master’s land. He considered that his prerogative and a right by birth. By birth, because he was born to parents who lived their life in the same house and had the same master.
The mongrel Ramu was an intelligent and alert dog. He was clean and had a wonderfully bright brown coat. He reminded his master each morning if he missed the routine grooming. He never frightened squirrels, or birds that scurry down the tamarind tree. He felt peace in sharing the goodness of life with other creatures. By night he lies on the veranda his fore legs stretched out and his right paw over his left. He loved moon lit nights and spent his nocturnal duty gazing at the stars and glancing at the moon through the corner of the eyes. His bright eyes widen a little amused at the silver- gold ball up there in the skies. He shows alert surprise when the clouds eclipse the moon and the game of hide and seek is enacted up in the skies, go on for the most part of the night. He isn’t worried about the occasional hedgehogs and racoons that skitter at night. For he knows they are harmless as the moon above. Even snakes, he let them pass, and they seldom bothered him. There was a discerning oneness he felt with the surrounds. The blades of grass, the trees that lend shade to them, the thicket further down the land where the old priest ventured on a special day every month and performed rituals to the serpent gods, the spring -pond near the thicket with its white and blue water lilies and the fishes that dived and swam in it. The dragon flies that flew low each morning and at dusk, the birds that chirped and tugged at worms and crickets, the smart ravens! But something always told him that he should be wary of Man. Though his master was one! He knew that dogs did not have a choice as they are made so, to be always subservient, to look up to man. And being servile was his destiny, the destiny of a dog.
The group of menacing looking men now encircled him. He could not in the beginning understand what that they were animatedly discussing and arguing amongst themselves. They frequently seem to be invoking the heavens as they looked skyward and raised their hands and weapons in union. And they were menacingly glancing at him as he lay there, still quite confused, but with a sense of ill that something not good was to happen. He began to wish that he was not leashed. He could have jumped at the intruders and turned them away from any threatening ideas ,or if it was wise enough, moved away passively, leaving human beings to their own wild moorings.
He recalled the haste and the consternation that showed in his mater’s face that morning. He seemed agitated, a bit listless and moving about with a sense of foreboding and urgency. His master packed off in his old automobile with his wife and kids. They even did not remember to latch and lock the gate to the entrance of the compound. Ramu lay beneath the Tamarind tree and let out a deep breath which he usually does when human conduct is incomprehensible.
A man who seemed to be among those who have now encircled him came running out from the house. Ramu heard him gesticulating and shout, “No, he is not in there. That kaffir and his family are not in there. They seemed to have decamped”.Some one in the group swore, “The rascal must have found that today he will meet his nemesis, his judgement”. The beefy man who seemed to be leading the mob raised his hands as if to silence the comments and looked Ramu in the eyes. He pointed his long knife at Ramu and shouted a command at his accomplices. ”If the pariah escaped our wrath, then let us do with this unearthly creature this haram. Mince the dog. Let us make sure of our place in paradise. Kaffir or his dogs, both are haram”.
Ramu did not get a moment to stand up on his limbs or defend, but he saw the shining knife, its blade lunge at him,it hit him like bolt of lightning. He winced and the wince was muffled when his head was severed completely. The mob did not stop there; they chanted praise to their God and hacked Ramu, by now a cadaver, into bits. The fury of Man, Ramu always did not understand!
He was privy to many similar invocations and violent planning by his master and his coterie of men with flags in burnt orange shades. He had noticed his master gesticulating the way this huge man did, swearing, hands stretched towards the skies that, “Thy will, will be done”. And that the land will be cleansed off alien faiths and men. Ramu could not understand what was alien in man, beast and flora when it is the same air they breathe, the same moon they see shine at them and the same stars that twinkle at them.
He always felt deep within to be wary of, Mankind!