White as Milk Powder

He was born, white as milk powder, the youngest of six children. He played with his brothers and sisters, running around in naughty circles, teething and playful. But soon, it was time for him and his siblings to go away.

Like every child he was on a mission; to be loved by a stranger and to rule their world. Being the cutest one, he brought in the highest bid. The two strangers he went home with were particularly interested in him, especially his ears. They cuddled him without reason and laughed a lot around him. When he furrowed his forehead, turned his face slightly and stared at them for their weird ways, they found it hilarious.

He particularly loved biriyani nights. He was allowed to eat as much as he wanted as long as he didn’t throw up. Every night he slept between them, hogging their blankets and all their space. And every morning after, he woke up happy and wild, waking them up with his boundless energy and uninhibited kisses.

They home-schooled him, teaching him discipline, logic and spatial skills. The bigger he got, the lesser they taught him. They let him grow into himself and be. In turn, he returned the favour by keeping track of them without being in their way. He made himself a spot on the couch, used the armrest to rest his chin and watched them like a hawk. He let them talk to each other, as long as they involved him in their conversation.

Years went by in road trips, friendships and surgeries. He had them right where he wanted. At his beck and call. All he had to do was was whine and one of them would check on him. Refuse to bathe and they would give him treats. If he brought his toys over, they would drop everything and play with him. If he went on a trail, they would follow. If he got stuck in a bush, they would come to his rescue. When he tired of walking, they would carry him home. His charms worked wonders on the other strangers too. If he wagged his tail, they couldn’t resist petting him.

He had done his people proud. He had won over the strangers. He was Maximus, the maker of minions.

Second story in print!

Delighted to announce that my second story has come out in print recently! It’s called ‘For Chikki’s Sake’ and it’s published in an anthology called The Best Asian Short Stories 2018. You can buy it here. It’s published by Singapore-based publisher Kitaab International.

It’s been a while since I wrote that story. For those who don’t know, I took a year’s sabbatical in 2017 to write short stories. I wrote ten of them of which this is one. It’s been a tiring enterprise getting these stories out in print. My mission to get them published as a collection also seems to have lost steam.

Lately, I have been thinking of an idea. Either way, I am not going to make any money getting these stories published. Then why not circulate them in a closed group of people. Monthly, like a newsletter. At least they will get read instead of gathering dust in my google drive. I don’t know if I am being foolish.

The way I look at it, this could help me:

  • build a feedback group
  • get my stories read
  • write more

If you think I am being foolish, leave a message. If you would like to be part of this experiment, fill the form below:

Part 2: Public Texts with Kartik Shanker and HS Sudhira at IIHS

This is the second post in a series about Public Texts sessions that I organise as a part of my work with IIHS. If you missed the first post, catch up on it here before you read further!

I was extremely excited for this session with ecologist Kartik Shanker and researcher HS Sudhira talking about sea turtle conservation in India (Thu, 2 May, 6.30 pm, IIHS). In this session titled Slow and Steady, they discussed his book, From Soup to Superstar (Harper Litmus, 2015). From Soup to Superstar, which I read almost 250 pages of before the event, is a comprehensive account of the history of marine conservation in India. Shanker wrote this book as a New India Foundation Fellow in 2009.

I could not have found a better person than HS Sudhira to be in conversation with him. HS Sudhira is the Director of Gubbi Labs which does independent research on sustainable ecosystems. He knew as much about conservation as Shanker and enriched the quality of the discussion immensely. I was super excited about this one because it’s such an important conversation to have in the current socio-political climate where some people in power claim that climate change is not real.

I was nervous too because it was my first time managing the session single-handedly without Rekha. She was out of town on the day of the event which meant that I had to smile and wave and be social. Not my scene.

My impression from the 250 pages of From Soup to Superstar that I read was that it’s an important book. It talks about India’s history of sea turtle conservation through the stories of its biggest champions, Satish Bhaskar, Vijaya, Rom Whitaker and CS Kar among others. It gives credit where it’s due to individuals within the government functions and outside who pushed for changes that eventually tipped the scale in the turtles’ favour. We need more Kartik Shankers in academia who can write about their work interestingly; interestingly being the operative word. And for that to happen I believe that writing should be not be an afterthought or a mandatory output. It should be a skill taught to all professionals.

Coming off the success of our previous session, All Characters are Tamil, I was hoping for the room to be full but the realist in me was prepared for a poor turnout. This session had 25 people in the audience. I was disappointed with the turnout because I think people ought to be more interested in animals and the natural world. I was also upset since I find it hard to imagine how humans think of themselves as being separate from the environment. Before this spirals into gloom, I was extremely grateful that Thej and Yasho showed up for moral support and kept me calm. I couldn’t have done it without them.

I thought the session itself went well. Kartik Shanker was a natural before the audience and Sudhira, though not very audible, moderated the session with great nuance. It’s always a pleasure to listen to two passionate people talk about something they love. The audience was engaged and asked interesting questions. My measure for a successful Public Texts is when the discussion starts with the book but expands into larger questions. By that logic, this session was great since it ended up discussing the politics of conservation and its livelihood costs.

The next Public Texts session is on Fri, 31 May from 6.30 pm. It will be children’s book author Asha Nehemiah in conversation with writer and editor Bijal Vachharajani about secret hair oil formula, among other things!

Part 1: Anchoring Public Texts at IIHS

I recently began working at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore. As a part of my role there, I organise Public Texts events every month. This is the first part of a series of blogposts on my experience running these events.

When I first heard of Public Texts, Rekha, my team lead, was informing us that our next session would be with Prof. AR Venkatachalapathy. Public Texts is a series of conversations with authors, using their works as a starting point for discussion.

Could I think of a moderator? Sure. Could I write up content for a newsletter? Sure. Could I do outreach? Sure. That’s how it began.

Chalapathy’s session titled All Characters are Tamil was a conversation about his book, Tamil Characters (Pan Macmillan, 2018). The moderator, Ranjani Krishnakumar (full disclosure: is my friend) discussed Tamil people, politics and culture with Chalapathy.

Prof. AR Venkatachalapathy in conversation with Ranjani Krishnakumar

These sessions are run by two teams within IIHS. The Library team and my team, the editorial function called the Word Lab. For the Chalapathy one, my role was doing everything that needed doing. I coordinated with the Library team to make sure things were on track. I wrote content for the poster, newsletter and social media. I made a social media plan, got an event page made and got the author and moderator to send us videos inviting folks to the event. I made sure the newsletter went out to specific groups of people instead of everyone IIHS knows. You get the idea.

Leading up to the event I had butterflies in my stomach. During the event, I was constantly making notes for the debrief. Though not regular, Public Texts had been around for at least five years from what I could see online. It had hosted big names like Harsh Mander and Shashi Deshpande. But these things were of no consequence to me then because I was so in the weeds with organising it.  

Honestly, the event was a bigger success than I had imagined. The room was full, that’s 60 people on a Thursday evening. The book stall Pan Macmillan setup sold 25 copies. That’s 25 copies of an academic book in one sitting. I think that’s when I got bitten by the Public Texts bug. Or maybe later, when I had to think on my feet about the author’s botched up dinner plan. I was mighty proud of myself that day. I even had that rare sense of ‘I got this’!

That’s why when the Annual Work Plan for FY19-20 was being made, I took on organising Public Texts events monthly. Planning these events and improving them month-on-month really gives me a high! Right after stint one, I made a process document with a checklist on all the things to do for these events. I started populating a pipeline of authors and moderators to consider for upcoming sessions. I began writing to publishers for connects. Rekha and I met one of them over breakfast. I think this is as exciting as it is because Rekha gives me a free rein of things. I guess I have also put in the interest, commitment and hardwork needed to be given the reins.

I plan to write a post every month about my experience programming these events. If you have been to a Public Texts event let me know what you thought of it and how it can be improved.

The way to her heart is through the pill box

I am tried of her
With her constant excuses
Legs heavy with diffidence
And self-doubt like dirt under her nails

I am bored
of her ambling along unseeing
across the urban scape
Heading nowhere significant.

I’ve had enough of her
Whining about unhealthy sources of nutrition
Wishing for better roads to exercise
She’s distasteful, detestful sometimes.

She’s beyond counsel.
Eating garbage like the ocean cleaner
Netflix without crossfit equals
Waistlines without clothes.

The heart is fine; self-preserving.
Her mind is a silent scream for help.
She needs fixing; in more ways than one.

Shall I take her on a journey,
One she won’t return from?
Make her empty some pills down her chute
Or climb the monkey bar to precarious heights.

Shall I lead the way there, so she can be
Light and numb, happy and free?
But there is no me without her.
And I am self-preserving.

മുല്ലപ്പൂ മണമുള്ള പെൺകുട്ടി

This story was written as a submission for the art installation Jasmine Awning (മുല്ലപന്തൽ) to be displayed at the Gender Bender festival 2018 to be held on 22-26 August 2018 at Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore. Gender Bender seeks to explore gender as a concept, discourse, concept and art itself.

പകൽ അവളെ കണ്ടാൽ അവളൊരു സാധാരണക്കാരി. അമ്പലത്തിൽ പോകുന്ന, ചുരിദാറിടുന്ന, മീൻകൂട്ടാൻ ഇഷ്ടമുള്ള, നിങ്ങളേപോലെ തന്നെയുള്ള ഒരു സാധാരണക്കാരി. പക്ഷേ, ചീവീടുകൾക്കൊപ്പമാണ് ഈ പെൺകുട്ടി ഉണരുന്നത്.

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This is where.

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സന്ധ്യ മയങ്ങുകയേ വേണ്ടൂ അവൾ ഉണരുകയായി. പശുവിൻ പാലിൻ നിറമുള്ള അവൾ പൂമൊട്ടുകൾ പോലുള്ള തന്റെ കണ്ണുകൾ പതുക്കെ തുറക്കും. ഉറക്കച്ചടവോടെ മടിപിടിച്ച് കണ്ണുംപൂട്ടി തിരിഞ്ഞുകിടക്കും. വെളിച്ചം കയറാത്ത വിധം പകുതി വിടർന്നൊരു പൂച്ചയുറക്കം.

അവൾക്ക് ഇരുപത്തിമൂന്നോ ഇരുപത്തിനാലോ വയസ്സായി കാണും. തിരമാലകുട്ടികളെ പോലെ ചാടിത്തുള്ളി നടക്കുന്ന മുടിയാണവൾക്ക്. കുറ്റിമുല്ലയെന്നാണ് എല്ലാവരും അവളെ വിളിക്കുന്നത്. പേരിൽ ഇല്ലാത്ത അധിക്ഷേപം വിളിയിൽ ചേർക്കാൻ ആരും മറക്കാറില്ല താനും.

രാത്രി വാതിൽ തുറന്ന് അവളെ അകത്തേക്ക് വിളിച്ചു. മന്ദസ്മിതം പോലെ സുഗന്ധം പരത്തുന്ന അവൾ പോകാൻ തയ്യാറാവുകയാണ്. ഇതാ, തൂവെള്ള പല്ലുകൾ കൊണ്ടൊരു മൂളിപ്പാട്ടും പാടി അവൾ ബസ് സ്റ്റാൻഡിലേക്ക് നടക്കുന്നു.  

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Bubbleman. Most fun @central park!

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വാതിലിൻ അകത്ത് ഉപയോഗിച്ച് വിരസമായ മുറിയാണ്. അലങ്കോലമായി കിടക്കുന്ന കട്ടിൽ. അതിന്മേൽ ഒരാൾ കഷ്ടിച്ച് എഴുന്നേറ്റിരിക്കുന്നു. ലേശം കീറിയ മുഷിഞ്ഞ ലുങ്കിയാണ് വേഷം. മേൽക്കുപ്പായമൊന്നും ധരിച്ചിട്ടില്ല. മുഖത്ത് താടിരോമങ്ങൾ ചാണം വിതറിയ ചീരത്തടം പോലെ ഉത്സാഹത്തോടെ വളരുന്നു. കണ്ണുകളിൽ മടുപ്പ്. പത്തുമുപ്പത് വയസ്സ് പ്രായം കാണും. ഇടത്തരം നിറം. മേലനങ്ങാത്ത ദേഹപ്രകൃതം. കൈയിൽ നോക്കിയാൽ മടുപ്പിന്റെ കാരണം പിടികിട്ടും. കരിമ്പനടിച്ചപോലെ കൈമടക്ക് നിറയേ മരുന്ന് കുത്തിവച്ച പാടുകളാണ്.

ആ മണം ഓർമ്മയിൽ മാത്രമാണോയെന്ന് സംശയിപ്പിക്കും വിധം രാത്രി ചെല്ലുന്തോറും അവളുടെ മുല്ലപ്പൂമണത്തിന്റെ വീര്യം കുറഞ്ഞുകുറഞ്ഞ് വരുന്നു. അവളെ കാണുമ്പോൾ അയാൾ ചിരിച്ച് അടുത്തേക്ക് വിളിക്കുന്നു. ആ മുല്ലപ്പൂമണമുള്ള പെൺകുട്ടി കർമ്മഭൂമിയിലേക്ക് ഇറങ്ങുകയാണ്. തന്റെ കൈകൾ കൊണ്ട് ആദ്യം അയാളുടെ നെറ്റിയിൽ തഴുകുന്നു. പിന്നെ അയാളുടെ കൈതണ്ടയിൽ സൗമ്യമായി പിടിച്ച് വിദഗ്ധമായി അയാളെ കട്ടിലിലേക്ക് ചെരിച്ചു കിടത്തുന്നു. പിന്നെ അവരുടെ കണ്ണുകൾ പരസ്പരം സമ്മതം ചോദിക്കുകയായി.  

സമ്മതം മൂളിയ അയാളുടെ കണ്ണുകൾ പതുക്കെ അടഞ്ഞ് ആ അനിവാര്യതയ്ക്കായി കാത്തുകിടപ്പായിക്കഴിഞ്ഞു. അവളുടെ മുഖത്ത് ചെയ്ത് തഴമ്പിച്ച പ്രവൃത്തിയുടെ സ്വാഭാവികതയാണ്. സുഗന്ധങ്ങളെല്ലാം അപ്പോഴേയ്ക്കും വാടി ഉതിർന്നു വീണിരുന്നു.

ഇളംചൂടുള്ള വെള്ളത്തിൽ മുക്കിയ തോർത്തുകൊണ്ട് അവൾ അയാളുടെ തുടയിലും മറ്റും തുടച്ചപ്പോൾ യൂക്കാലിപ്റ്റസിന്റെ മണം ആ മുറിയിൽ നിറഞ്ഞു. വിലക്ഷണത കൊണ്ടയാൾ ശ്വാസംവിടാതെ കിടന്നു. അവൾ മല്ലിക. നൈറ്റ് ഷിഫ്റ്റ് നേഴ്സായി ജോലിനോക്കുന്നു.

News Update: My First Story In Print

My first story, On Her Own, is coming out in print! You can pre-order the anthology at helterskelter.in/newwriting/vol6 and get some really cool artwork free!

On Her Own is the story of Thangam, an aging matriarch who lives life on her own terms. She often jokes that she will keep Death waiting till her chores are done. But does Death know to wait? Will Thangam have the last word?

It’s been nearly two years since I got into writing full-time. Though there have been many small wins over the months, this Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing Vol 6 is the most tangible. My first blogpost-worthy accomplishment.

Since Jan 2017, I’ve written a collection of 10 short stories that I would like to call ‘On Her Own’. These are stories about everyday women who are both damsels in distress and their own knights in shining armour. My stories are about self-discovery, self-reliance and self-assertion.

Last month, I got another great piece of news. Singapore-based publisher Kitaab International will publish my story, “For Chikki’s Sake”, in their anthology, The Best Asian Short Stories 2018. It should be out later this year.

Taking time off to write has been great for me. It has given me the opportunity to discover dramaturgy and explore theatre with the Malayalam adaptation of Girish Karnad‘s play Nagamandala that was staged at Rangashankara in May 2018. As a result, I am now working on a feminist utopia play based on Sultana’s Dream. It has also given me time to pursue writing a web-series.

Most of you know that I also write children’s stories for my nephew Zayne. Cambridge University Press has published one of these stories, Zayne’s Day With The Sun, in two editions of their English course book as a part of their national curriculum. They have now picked up another story, Zeeboy Builds A Robot for publication in October 2018.

I am very excited to share my little joys with you. Now back to emailing publishers!

Researching A New Direction

I have no background in theatre. As a student, I have been part of four plays because they were all mandatory. The first one was called Seasons (circa 1995), a massive production that literally involved the entire school, where I was one of the dozen or more dressed as winter. My memory of that event is of Amma working overtime to make a cotton and pearl hat as mandated.

In middle school I was one of the ministers in the Pied Piper of Hamlin. I had lines but I was also in a hideous orange costume. When we got to high school, I was a villager in a play about the Narmada Bachao Aandolan. Finally, in college, I herded sheep to the manger of  baby Jesus in the Nativity play, yet another compulsory event for hostelites in the convent college I attended.

What is Dramaturgy?

So when I was asked to be a dramaturge in a professional production, I had my doubts. For starters, I didn’t know what a dramaturge was or does. I promptly googled it.

I liked the second definition better. Made me sound important and mysterious like you couldn’t put a finger on what exactly I do.

I’ve been told that traditionally the functions of dramaturgy were split among the various departments of the play. So a costume designer would research about the time period, a set designer would look into the setting and the director would handle themes. It’s only recently that  productions have begun to see dramaturgy as an editorial role requiring a dedicated resource.

Plot

The play was Nagamandala by Girish Karnad. Directed by Sunayana Premchander for KathaSiyah theatre group, as a part of the Indian Ensemble‘s Director’s Training final showcase, this was going to be in Malayalam and staged at Rangashankara! The way she explained it, I was to help with setting, context, themes, relevance and language.

Nagamandala is a play about Naga the snake who transforms into Rani’s abusive husband Appanna, to love her. We wanted our version to be a play about Rani choosing to love a snake over her abusive husband. To achieve this we had to deconstruct Rani as a plot device who things happen to and redevelop her as a character with agency.

Location

Set in Kerala, I could go down two roads. There are two popular centres of snake worship in Kerala: Mannarshala temple in Alappuzha and Pambumekkatu Mana in Thrissur. Being from Thrissur, I chose Pambummekkatu mana for familiarity. Within Thrissur district, Puthenchira village was chosen for its proximity to Pambumekkatu. There are other reasons to stick to Thrissur. Kodungallur Bhagavathy temple, within 15 kms of the mana, is known for its powerful female goddess. Peringottukara, a centre for black magic with a Kuttichattan temple, is only 30 kms away.

Time Period

Once the location was decided, time period of the play had to be tackled. The original play was first published in 1988. Sunayana and I stuck to the same time period, but after a whole lot of research starting before the turn of the century. Matrilineal marumakkathayam and joint family systems made seclusion of Rani difficult. Landowning pramaanis made a justice-rendering village panchayat obsolete. We were clear that we wanted our protagonists to be upper caste (as in the play) since we didn’t feel comfortable superimposing our sensibilities over a lower caste or tribal community or appropriating their traditions on their behalf.

Themes

Themes that resonated with us were sexuality, stories/magical transformation and patriarchal community. We felt strongly that Rani needed agency to assert her need for love and sex. Her sexual desire could not be confined to sexual exploitation or sexual violence. Like Appanna, she too had the right to choose sex over fidelity. Stories suspend disbelief and help change perspectives. Stories have as many versions as there are tellers and need to be told to be heard. It is therefore important to tell stories of women’s lived experiences and their concerns. In these dystopian times it is also important to cultivate multiple points of view. We believe that community needs to rebuild the habit of debate and dissent to arrest the growth of the “with us or against us” rhetoric.

A poster for the play Nagamandala

Relevance

The discussion about women’s rights is evolving in India. In the last five years since the Delhi gangrape, conversations about women’s rights have focused around sexual violence against women. But we are still not discussing sexual behaviour and sexual desire of women. Last week of May when this production was first staged coincided with the death anniversary of Kamala Das, an author well-ahead of her time. In 1977 she wrote unabashedly about female desire in the autobiography My Story, a theme when revisited in the 2018 movie, Veere Di Wedding, still made news.

Language

Since I revisited some of the content I found objectionable and played around with the ending, there was a fair bit of rewriting and translation. Since some of our actors could not read Malayalam, the script had to be transliterated into English. Some of the usages in the Malayalam translation by C. Kamaladevi were too formal and had to be changed. These changes from formal to informal in keeping with the times, were the most interesting. Sunayana was keen on having the actors use the sing-song Thrissur dialect with its peculiar colloquialisms. Since I didn’t want the dialect to overpower the performances, I had to find ways of making universal changes to dialogue than overusing well-known Thrissur phrases like “enthootu, kdaave, kannaaali, ishta etc.” Some of the universal changes I used are below. These were applied in all instances.

Languages changes for dialect

To help actors internalise thrissur slang, I shared with them interviews of T G Ravi and Jayaraj Warrier who speak a more everyday thrissur dialect. To highlight how over the top it could be, I also shared videos from Malayalam movies where the likes of Mammooty and Mohanlal have spoken in Thrissur bhasha.

Learnings

The most exciting part of the experience was sitting in on the rehearsals. To be closely involved with the script and to then watch the actors flesh out their movements and characters and use the rather frugal medium to communicate was exceptional. The ability of language and dialect to add texture to the character and layers of meaning to the context is powerful. I was drawn to the possibilities of theatre. I had not anticipated how chaotic a play production would be. But I was amazed at how calm the director was in the face of obstacles. She knew exactly what she wanted, which made the madness palatable.

Through the whole process, I felt the need to understand theatre and dramaturgy better. To explore dramaturgy in future, I believe the journey should begin with reading up on theatre and watching more plays. In Bangalore, that means travelling all the way across city where the play costs less than the roundtrip. In terms of future projects, I guess the key would be to work with compatible directors who share your sensibilities and who you share a mutual trust with. Another takeaway, at least as a fledgling dramaturge would be to work on concepts that you are naturally drawn towards.

A Daytrip to Meet Some Senior Pooches

For those who don’t know me, I adopted Max nearly two years back when he was 11.5 years old. He has since grown to become the very center of my life and love. Max is not the only old person in my life. My grandparents (only my grandmother is still alive) have been a big influence on me. To everyone who continues to ask why I adopted an old dog, I say, “for the same reason we keep our grandparents around. Because you don’t just throw people out because they are old”. I always assumed that my logic was simple and straightforward. But then I visited CUPA’s Geriatric Centre.

One Saturday morning after breakfast, three of us decided to daytrip down the highway to meet some senior pooches. I had heard about CUPA’s Geriatric Centre from Chintana Gopinath’s Instagram post. Located in Mylappanahalli, 12 kms off the airport road, away from Yelahanka, the centre is an unassuming plot of land with a line of tin sheds hugging the perimeter. There, toddling around the trees live 42 old and abandoned pooches. As you park outside the main gate, you can hear the excitement in their barks. Enter the main gate to the compound and the search party has its front paws on the second gate and fence, figuring you out.

“Oh yes, these are heavy petters!”, they declare.

Indies or pedigrees, these old timers haven’t heard about your personal space. Some jump up to greet me. Others are rubbing up against my legs. A third group can sniff Max on me. But they know you are here to pet them and they intend to make the most of it.

“Team, bring out your best puppy faces and get ready to tailwag. Easy targets approaching!” Ammu the socialite announced.

The three of us on the visit carried biscuits and medicines. Needless to say, the biscuits were inhaled. They disappeared without a trace! I tried to save some for the laggards but without a lot of success.

“Enough with the formalities. Sign the books, let’s get on with the main event already”, Lalitha, the matronly Labrador egged us on matter-of-factly.

Dot, the most daring of them came up and asked to be petted. Seeing how willing we were, the others joined in. Soon demands were being heard.

“You have two hands! Why don’t you pet two of us at once?” That was Shadow.

“Ufff…why do you keep tickling my ears? Here, pet my back… Ok now, rub my chest.” Scare was getting his money’s worth.

An hour and a half later, when my hands began to hurt, one by one, they went out to the yard and found themselves spots to lay down and take in the warm sunlight of the damp June afternoon. In no time, they were fast asleep, dead to this world.

Then there was Benji. Some sort of furry terrier, Benji had a nasty temper. Chikkalingaiah the manager, had warned us to stay away from him. Just like Maxubee and Ammuma, he was unfriendly. Both of them liked to be left alone and let me hug them because, well, they didn’t have a choice! Benji was just like that. He lay on the bench with such ease that I assumed it was his spot. Earlier, while the others crowded around asking to be petted, he had disdain written all over his face. Once the eager lines fell away, I couldn’t resist babytalking Benji.

“Whoosh my good boy? With dat grumpy face? Whoose that furball Benji? Is that you? Are you my Benjiboo?”

He ignored me. My companions warned me not to touch him. But Benji stole my heart. So I touched him. And he snarled at me. Maybe next time.

The place is run by Chikkalingaiah and his two aides. Their love for the dogs is not physical. There isn’t a lot of touching or babytalk. But you ask him any of his dogs’ names and he will stare at them for 20 seconds before responding, Scare, Shadow, Dot, Blindy, Ammu, Latha, Lalitha. The facilities here are basic. They are fed everyday. A doctor visits twice a week. But they could use more food, treats, petderm shampoo, furglow, neurobion etc.

I block out what their lives would have been like if this shelter didn’t exist. But I think of the people who abandoned these lovebugs just because of their age. Or their parents. They will turn old too. Everyone must. How can people not see that?

These are depressing thoughts. What can I do to make people think differently about our old four-legged friends? I don’t know.  But I know what I am going to do. I am going to go back there till Benji loves me!