TDWS | E21: Pathu And Indigo In Food Heaven

Begum on her throne

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

With every subsequent meeting with Indigo, Pathu was inching closer to meeting her friendship goals. For instance, now Indigo talked to Pathu first before addressing Echo—a big achievement. Once, Indigo even took a picture of Pathu as she sat regally on her cane chair throne. A keepsake! Isn’t that the true mark of friendship? Another time, Indigo offered her Oreo biscuits under the table when the humans were distracted. With the cream filling, can you imagine? The humans never shared any of their good food with Pathu. They reserved for Pathu bland, tasteless crap. 

Pathu had, of course, offered Indigo many gifts during the course of their relationship. But the real upward mobility of their friendship came when Indigo brought her a gift, one rainy evening. Indigo had made Goli bajje to celebrate the rain. These golden, deep fried dough balls smelled like the heaven of Pathu’s dreams. “I’ve brought you something special”, said Indigo when Pathu’s nose led her to the dining table. Indigo promptly gave her the first Goli bajje out of the pack.

Pathu could not believe the speed at which their relationship was gaining traction. Early the next morning, the humans were up and about. Early morning human activity always puts Pathu on high alert. She has come to learn that this either means a visit to the hell the humans call hospital or in the least, a shift from scheduled programming. Pathu did not like this one bit. She liked to wake them up every morning with her noisy pacing and muttering.

The car stopped beside the most amazing smell in the world.

In no time, the humans got ready, Pathu was made to eat-pee-poop and was bundled into the car. On the street, Pathu spotted her soon-to-be best friend in another car. Pleased with this turn of events, Pathu sat up happier on her throne in my lap on the passenger side. As Indigo drove off leading the way, Pathu imagined herself sitting in that car, on a mini vacay with her friend.

The car stopped beside the most amazing smell in the world. Of fresh, hot dosas bathing in butter. As was routine now, Indigo did not forget to come over to Pathu and wave at her. She was introduced to Indigo’s human who asked, “have they eaten?” Pathu liked him immediately because a human with oota questions is a human you can trust. Also, any friend of Indigo’s was a friend of hers too. 

The humans took their time in the food heaven. When they came out, they were visibly exhausted from all the eating. She smelt masala dosa, chow chow bath, puri, uddin vada and filter coffee on them.

As she populated the excel sheet of their food intake, Pathu saw a parcel with Indigo’s human. As he approached the car, Indigo took the packet from him and opened it up. It had two warm, soft idlis like clouds from heaven. Indigo broke them up into smaller pieces and offered them to Pathu. Pathu accepted the offering and knighted Indigo, her best friend.

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Next Episode | E22: Pathu The Free Bleeder

Workshop on Gender Inequality in India

Gender inequality is not just out there, it’s in here too

On 21 October 2020, development consultant Smita Premchander and I ran a series of workshops for the students of a school in Bangalore on Gender Inequality in India. This 50 minute workshop was crafted for a group of 14-17 year-old students.

Gender inequality in India is a vast topic, one which Smita has spent her lifetime working on. We faced two challenges:

  • Providing a substantial overview in a 50 minute workshop
  • Personalising the problem of gender inequality

We decided that we would look at three facets of our lives where this inequality is apparent: family, institutions and society.

We began the session with this icebreaker: Share with us your first or strongest experience of gender discrimination? As expected, participants shared a range of responses. From not being selected for football because it was considered a ‘boys sport’ to not being allowed to walk in the city alone because ‘it’s not safe’ for girls. We used this opportunity to discuss ideas of social conditioning about gender and women’s access to public spaces.

From the personal, we extrapolated to how these experiences look back at us as data. We ran a data quiz and followed it up with a discussion. The discussion unpacked data and made it relevant to them. For instance, we said, if your class of 25 students were representative of India, 8 of the girls here would already be married.

Next, we took the recent case of Vijay P Nair, the YouTuber who made an abusive video titled “Why feminists in Kerala don’t wear underwear” and turned it into a roleplay game. This case, we figured, summed up very well the deep hold patriarchy, sexism and misogyny have on our society. We divided the participants into Women, Police and Society and had them discuss the case.

We ended the session with this reiteration: We don’t know what ground zero is for gender equality because we have inherited an unequal world. As demonstrated today, inequality exists in families, institutions and society at large. And the best way to tackle inequality as individuals is by asking the tough questions that need to be asked to these structures of power. 

The detailed breakdown of the workshop is available for free download. Sign up to access the workshop.

Picture Credit: Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash

Project On Her Own_Version 2.0

I feel as though September 2019 was spent on an entirely different planet in a parallel universe. It seems like eons ago that Yasho, Sunayana, Thej and I received the Gender Bender grant and pulled off a multimedia installation project at Gender Bender 2019 while holding down our full time jobs. As I write this, that thrill of building on an idea from scratch is almost palpable. 

For the uninitiated, Project On Her Own is a call-in service where you (can still) call +91 80660 84304 and listen to everyday stories of women and share your own. We had little over a month to put this together. We organised phone booths in Cubbon Park, ran workshops with women and had over 1000 calls to show for it. You can read more about it here, here and here.

Earth has gone around the sun once and life has changed in many ways. But when the anniversary of our epic feat came around we couldn’t but revisit the ‘what next’. We’ve always talked about building out an archive for the everyday stories of women that are still getting collected behind the scenes. What if we could harness the asynchronicity of WhatsApp as an upload mechanism for stories? What if we collected stories in workshop mode from communities and groups that we are keen to engage with? Questions like these and more finally got us thinking about Project On Her Own_Version 2.0

I am delighted to report that we have begun reconvening on this idea. On Sunday afternoons, I drag myself from sleep at 3 pm to groggily join the discussion on how to move forward with Project On Her Own. I give up my nap only because I tremendously appreciate the opportunity to work with this team that works like clockwork.

More on our progress soon!

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TDWS | E20: A Trick Up Her Sleeve

A Trick Up Her Sleeve

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

It’s relatively easy to come to the realisation that one must apply oneself. But the actual process of applying oneself is pretty painful and unintuitive. But Pathu was determined to change. By day she took notes on Echo and by night, she practiced her lessons on the humans at dinner time.

When she felt her confidence ebb, she went back to the first exercise she had conducted on Echo. Without ever leaving the house, she had mapped their entire neighbourhood simply by observing 8 data points on Echo’s body. Each time he returned from a walk, Echo collapsed in a heap as if he had just run cross country. Country fellow! She would then proceed to meticulously collect data from all four of his paws, the length of his tail, the tip of his nose, his pee and poop holes. Sometimes, when he let her, she also parsed data from his ears. Additional data was collected from the human who went on the walk. On days when Indigo’s friendship felt like an impossible dream, this incredible feat of personal initiative gave Pathu the confidence to go on.

At dinner time, Pathu begins to sit on her mat without being asked. She waits her turn for dinner table scraps, even though they mostly never come. Once in a while, she practices her eyebrow flicks and is immediately rewarded by the humans. She is careful not to misuse her superpower. Not yet, at least. In the afternoons, she sits on her chair in the kitchen watching Akka wash dishes. When Akka drinks her coffee, Pathu moves closer and sits on the door mat. And soon enough, Akka sends a cucumber piece Pathu’s way.

The next time Indigo turns up, Pathu is prepared. She is not as good as Echo yet at containing her excitement. But when Indigo calls out her name, she brings her best wag. She wills her tail to wag vigorously, putting the latter half of her body at risk of detaching from the rest of her body. Once everyone is seated, Pathu brings out her secret trick. 

She sits on her cane chair throne opposite Indigo and presents, the powerful sidelong glance filled with cynicism, hope, judgement and love. 

“If this works”, Pathu tells herself, “I’ll make this my signature move”. Standing by her reflection on the glass-walled bookshelf, Pathu has practiced this look to perfection. Pathu has learned from her fieldnotes, that Echo does not have a signature look. She plans to capture this market. She sits on her cane chair throne opposite Indigo and presents, the powerful sidelong glance filled with cynicism, hope, judgement and love. 

Indigo laughs out loud. “Did you see that?”. She asks the humans but Pathu knows that she has nailed the trick. In a flash, she is by Indigo’s side, ignoring the humans and their ‘down Pathus’. And before anyone can stop her, Pathu plants a big, wet, slurpy lick on Indigo’s face. Indigo’s laugh rings out again, music to Pathu’s ears. She says, “Pathu, you can kiss me on the mask as much as you want, I love it!”

And in that moment Pathu knows that she is well on her way to making Indigo her best friend!

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As we end this week, I have some news. With Episode 25 at the end of next week, I will be wrapping up this series. Thanks in advance to everyone for reading along.

Next Episode | E21: Pathu And Indigo In Food Heaven

TDWS | E19: How To Win Friends

A successful human interaction

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

Pathu has always been a dog with a plan. She was determined to acquire Indigo’s best friendship. She decided to take notes on successful human interaction from her bumbling brown brother, Echo. Pathu took out a brand new notebook and jotted down her name and age. Subject: How to make a new best friend.

The most convenient research environment was of course with Selvi Akka. Every afternoon when Akka knocked on the door lightly in the dead of our post-lunch snooze, Echo ran up to the front door barking as if a crime had been committed. But when the door actually opened, he dialed down his excitement of seeing Akka. He didn’t discard it though. He simply transferred it to his tail which wagged like a windmill that could power a small village. He then began a dance set to an inaudible yet jaunty tune, stepping forward and backward till she acknowledged him, petted him profusely and showered him with many ‘good boys’. 

Pathu highlighted in neon that sitting (especially when not asked to) always made humans happy.

When Akka drank coffee, Echo sat at a respectable distance but stared at the mug all the way to her mouth and back so that the mug never felt lonely. And on days when Akka ate a snack or chopped vegetables, this patient waiting always got him a treat. Pathu highlighted in neon that sitting (especially when not asked to) always made humans happy.

One of the first tricks that she learned by observing Echo was the magic of eyebrows. She saw first hand how a miniscule flick of Echo’s eyebrows melted the human heart. Of course, Echo did not employ any nuance in when and how he used it. But Pathu could think of a couple of use cases from her life where this trick would come in handy. For example, whenever she gets busted with her head in a dustbin or that time when she was caught eating a giant slab of cheese from the fridge or even when she had bitten through an unopened tube of ointment. This magic trick could easily get her out of all these tricky situations. 

Before two weeks of fieldwork were up, Indigo returned one evening without notice. Pathu had no time to mentally prepare for this meeting. Also, Indigo was carrying something forbidden in a brown bag: a chocolate cake! The delectable smell of this illicit substance is the last thing Pathu remembers. When she comes to, she is being restrained again. She is also being reprimanded for assaulting at Indigo. And where’s Echo in all this, you ask? He is sitting next to Indigo, receiving some enviable petting. 

“Enough is enough! This is no way to make a best friend”, thought Pathu. 

“I must really apply myself!”

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Next Episode | E20 | A Trick Up Her Sleeve

TDWS | E18: Middle Name—Disruptor

Middle Name—Disruptor

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

From the patterns of their berserk behaviour, it was deduced that the bread seller visits on Tuesdays and Fridays. And now that I have an explanation for their behaviour, they get special treats on those days. Mostly a scraped coconut shell with islands of leftover white flesh. Or the largest carrots in the pack. This is of course in addition to their usual treats of chicken feet and quail heads. With Echo and Pathu becoming great friends, I worried that my stories would run dry. But I shouldn’t have worried. There is never a dull moment with these two. Especially Pathu. Recently I learned that Pathu has a secret grouse.

Everyday they meet Selvi Akka who is definitely more family than friend. And since both of them came to us during the Covid lockdown, they don’t have any real friends. At least that’s what Pathu had imagined. But that’s before she met Indigo Udupa!

While we were finalising the new house, Pathu and Echo stayed in the car, giving the world a sense of the fireworks to expect. Then one Saturday morning, Pathu was prepping her chords to start recital when we brought them along with us to the house. The house had newly come into our possession and was subsequently, empty. Echo and Pathu ran from room to room, sniffing the new coat of paint liberally, getting high.

Pathu, never one to back down, made a split-second decision to act friendly with this human. Sadly, she overdid it.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. When it opened, Indigo Udupa stepped in and Echo sped across the room towards her, jumping like a colt and acting unsteady as though his limbs were made of jelly. She didn’t seem to be bothered by this giant slab of uneatable chocolate. They seemed to know each other very well! “Hello, my friend”, Indigo greeted him. Pathu was livid. “You have another best friend that I don’t know of?”, she turned to Echo. But Echo was beside himself with joy to answer her. Pathu, never one to back down, made a split-second decision to act friendly with this human. Sadly, she overdid it.

All Pathu wanted was for Indigo to be her friend too. But in her eagerness she scratched Indigo, tried to kiss her and nibbled on her ears. Little did Pathu know that these were all considered  inappropriate in the human world. Pathu was promptly restrained before she could unleash another assault. Meanwhile, Echo lay down like a life-sized teddy bear, next to where Indigo sat on the floor. He framed his face between his front paws and let his face melt onto the floor in his cutest pose. Indigo continued to pet him as she joined the nonsensical human conversation about the state of the nation.

Now Pathu really wanted this ‘best friend’. She turned green with envy but could not think of how to make this happen. Envy whispered in her ear, “Never mind about the solution. You know what to do for the time being. Just don’t hesitate.” Without another second’s delay, Pathu squatted and peed right there in the middle of their conversation. If she couldn’t ‘franship’ Indigo, she wouldn’t let anyone else ‘franship’ her either. Disruptor was her middle name.

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Next Episode | E19: How To Win Friends

TDWS | E17: A Quiet Street Flows North

Pathu is busy making notes on her Mr. P. Rao beat.

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

In the world outside our balcony, beyond the tree, nonchalant Mr. P. Rao and the quiet street flowing north towards a deadend, lies a bungalow from the 1900s. There, in the bungalow where the past hides, live many kinds of tails attached to dogs. I’ve counted nine when the house owner, a man in his sixties, takes one of them along on his daily morning walks.

There is Little Lily, the white one with faint cream patches and the classic upturned tail. Look at her wade up the street in elegant, easy strokes all the way to the main road. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Tuxedo Parade, a quartet of black dogs with insignificant splashes of white on their tails. They are practicing their tightrope stunt along the low compound wall that’s given up on life, and sways like a drunkard under their weight. The Brown Sugar Siblings, Jaggery, Molasses and Demerara are what your mother warned you about. They behave like junkies, dangerously impulsive and yet enviably carefree. Their tails tell tales of fights lost and won. Finally, there is Pirate, the three-legged tailless German Shepherd who has retired from a lifetime of adventure.

Our balcony and the bungalow stand facing each other, desperate like lovers on either banks of this peaceful street. The sharp silence of the tarred street breaks each time someone veers off the main road into this cul-de-sac. Little Lily is at her station by the lamp post where the street joins the main road. With the incoming movement detected, she runs back to the house to alert the pack. At this point, Pathu is busy making notes on her Mr. P. Rao beat. Before Little Lily can reach her peeps, from the vantage point on our balcony, Pathu is the first to sound the alarm. But Echo is curled up under the human’s work table, dreaming of dehydrated neck discs of beef. And he is not keen to be the first to react. He waits for the momentum to build before moving a muscle.   

Meanwhile, Little Lily has gone up and over the compound wall though most of the crew is already out on the street. The Tuxedo Parade has lined up on the precarious compound wall. The Brown Sugar Siblings are charging up the street, unmindful of the nature of the problem. Pirate opens the gate and walks out peacefully, to be present when the problem presents itself. Little Lily, having informed everyone concerned, unable to contain her thrill, pole vaults over the wall and lets out a final call. That’s when Echo switches on. From his spot under the human’s table where he is warming his bum, he leaps out, sending the human’s laptop, table lamp and work screen into a giggling fit. He picks up pace running towards Little Lily’s voice, fur raised like a porcupine and a bark gurgling up his snout, ready to be released. 

When he hears Echo and Pathu deliver their duet, he looks up at our balcony to see the new entrants in the sky.

The scooter is fitted with a steel trunk painted green. The driver wears a green plaid flat cap. The bread and baked goods seller who turned the corner is in the least affected by their cacophony. He goes about his business as usual. The slow rhythmic whir of his two-wheeler suggests that he knows that these are just dogs protecting their territory. When he hears Echo and Pathu deliver their duet, he looks up at our balcony to see the new entrants in the sky. He stops to wave at them before offering up baked treats to the ninepins. The sky siblings go berserk with anticipation.

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Next Episode | E18: Middle Name—Disruptor

TDWS | E16: A Dying Breed of Rationalists

A surveillance state

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

Echo and Pathu left from home as sworn enemies but returned as best friends. Since I believe in magic and he believes in ‘packets landing in buckets’ we didn’t question the whys and hows of this miracle. Understandably, as cynics we are amazed at this unimaginable transformation. For the first week or so we don’t believe that they have actually become friends. We wait patiently for ‘normalcy’ to return. 

Meanwhile, if I call either one of them, they have begun turning up together! They sit next to each other on the couch peacefully, respect each other’s playthings and share custody of us amicably. But it is when we see them do things together that our faith in the indescribable is restored. 

Their idea of quality time spent together is chasing Mr Parivala Rao, the pigeon. It’s their favourite daytime activity. Only because Mr. P. Rao roosts in the nighttime. The siblings begin their surveillance early. As we wake up our brains by injecting black coffee into our veins, these two stalk Mr P. Rao who lives in the tree beyond the balcony. Mr P .Rao is an elderly gentleman with a dash of grey in his wings. His life seems uninteresting to the untrained eye as he sits on a branch day in and day out, staring into the vast expanse of the universe, muttering to himself “guttr, kuttr. puttr”. 

But to Echo and Pathu, his constant chanting is a valuable source of agitation. An agitation that gives their day a sense of purpose and vengeful drive. Mr. P. Rao comes a close second to the aunty next door who rubs them the wrong way with her periodic ‘Om’s accompanied by a cacophony of bells. They spend hours watching him, surveilling his movements and the lack thereof. Pathu does two shifts pacing this balcony: mid-mornings and dusk. Echo takes over from her in the afternoons, spreading himself on the balcony table, like chocolate on toast.

My theory is that Mr. P. Rao is a dying breed of rationalists who hears out the opposition and uses his judgement to reserve comment.

When it rains, Mr P. Rao puffs up his feathers and takes refuge closer to the main trunk of the tree to keep dry. The main trunk is closer to our balcony than Mr. P. Rao’s branch. And something about him preening drives Echo and Pathu crazy. She paces the balcony willing Mr. P. Rao to notice her. When he doesn’t, she barks out expletives and encourages Echo to join her. To Mr. P. Rao’s credit he is never perturbed by their sentiment. 

My theory is that Mr. P. Rao is a dying breed of rationalists who hears out the opposition and uses his judgement to reserve comment. And though he can hear every single word these two are shouting at him, he chooses to ignore them. That or he routinely forgets to turn on his hearing aid.

Another theory I am commonly known to propound is that through hate my wards have come to understand Mr. P. Rao’s circumstance very well and this has led to them empathising with his motivations and are on the beautiful path of learning to co-exist.

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Next Episode | A Quiet Street Flows North

TDWS | E15: A Secret Wish Comes True

She touched me. He looked at me.

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

That Sunday in June when Pathu arrived on the scene, we took Echo for granted and assumed that he would adjust because he is a well-mannered gentleman. We were right but we were also wrong. He did tolerate her just as he tolerates my bear hugs. But it took many extra snacks, many hours of alone time and many belly rubs to bring back our sulker from the corner to which he had withdrawn. 

To Pathu, Echo was her pet toy, as many elder brothers tend to be. When she got bored, she would turn to trouble him. When he ignored her calls to play, she would pull his ear or fake bite his hind legs or sniff his tail, making him uncomfortable. She always remembered to keep enough distance for plausible deniability, in case we were watching. When he walked away from her, she would follow. If he sought refuge on a chair, she would stand there, smelling his nose, till he abandoned his perch. This would go on till he lost his temper. Following that inevitable yelp that cut her to size, they would disband instantly as if they were never there.

“She touched me. He looked at me. She sat on my tail while I was asleep and now I am awake and I do not like it!” 

They maintained peace for our sakes though they were incredibly jealous of each other and hated each other’s presence. “She touched me. He looked at me. She sat on my tail while I was asleep and now I am awake and I do not like it!” 

Meanwhile, after much hunting, we managed to grab a house. Though it was practically next door to our old house, we could not move houses with these two wreaking havoc on moving day. We decided to counter their surveillance by packing them off to a boarding facility.

“We’ll board them for a week”, I said. 

“Yes, gives us enough time to settle down”, he agreed.

“Hmm, a week might be too much for her”, he said. 

“Yes, she’s still a puppy”, I agreed.

“Maybe we could leave them there the day before and get them back the day after”, I said. 

“Yes, three days then”, he agreed.

Finally, we boarded them for a single night! Now you know why we are Pathuminions. Negotiation is not one of our core skills.

When the day arrived, we were complete wrecks. In the car, on the way over, we overdid the mollycoddling. We petted and we fussed. We even told Pathu to behave well and do us proud! Owing to Covid season, humans were not allowed entry into this boarding house. They opened the gates and took the dogs in. We were left standing there on the street. And our wards did not even turn back to wave at us!  

We stood there, outside the secured gate, like parents on the first day of school. Should we have filled their water bottles with Horlicks, we wondered. We searched for gaps along the compound wall, through which we imagined Pathu was calling out to us. There were none. 

The owner of the boarding house had asked if they were friendly dogs who could be left with other dogs in the yard. “Yes, of course. Echo is friendly. He will hang out with everyone, for sure. Pathu, I am not entirely sure off”, I had answered confidently. They tried to keep packs together at night, she said. “Yes, these two could be left alone with each other through the night”, I replied.

We got home and got busy with packing. Couple of hours later, I got a puzzling message from the boarding house. “We are leaving them upstairs in the room because they don’t seem to want to socialise. They are sticking to each other”, the message read. Wait, what? I reread the message. “We are leaving them…”

“You mean to say that my dogs, Echo and Pathu, want to hang out with each other and with no one else?” I handed over my phone to him, and asked him to crosscheck what I had just read.

Ha Ha Ha Ha! We burst out laughing. They had got what they deserved! Each other. Our secret wish had come true. 

At home they were always eating our brains or at each other’s throats. Half our energy was spent settling their disputes. “She touched me. He looked at me. She sat on my tail while I was asleep and now I am awake and I do not like it!”   

Here they are now, best of friends!

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Next Episode | E16: A Dying Breed of Rationalists

TDWS| E14: The Last Civil Liberty

Couldn’t hurt a fly!

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

Pathumma warranted a biography because she is no regular dog. She is a royal canine! Not a misspelt plug for the dog food brand, I promise. It’s just a bad joke, a brain fart if you will. It had to be released. This is precisely why all writing must be edited before seeing the light of day. Go editors! 

Anyway, we first noticed Pathu’s royal tendencies when she refused to sit on the floor. Every evening after dinner, we would head to our study that moonlights as the TV room. This makeshift arrangement afforded only two chairs. Since Echo was happy being belly up on the floor, we had never really thought of seating for our furry friends.

Pathu refused to sit. She would just pace around the room. At first we thought she was uncomfortable being in that small room. We would leave the door open for her to leave but she wouldn’t. However, when one of us got up to get ourselves a late night snack, she was quick to capture our seat.

That’s when we began noticing this royal tic. If our rears never left our seats, she would act cute till we let her get onto our laps. Of course there was the entitlement. If we sat together on the couch in the living room, she wouldn’t relent till she got to snuggle between us. Basically she had to be in the epicentre. Echo on the other hand has always been a sulker. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he goes away. He sits by himself in the corner, sighs, sulks and refuses to make eye contact till we go over to pacify him. Pathu will stand her ground and demand that she be given what she wants.

On principle, she does not beg for our food. She demands it. She does not raid the dustbin sneakily. She attacks it as if it were her birthright.

We are not the most disciplined people you will meet but Pathu most certainly is. She has her routine and nothing can change it. Ever. She wakes up at 7 am and proceeds to wake up the entire household. No one must sleep once she is awake. At 7:30 am if her breakfast is not served she will raise hell. Two hours later, it is time for her morning nap. For this divine event to commence, the rest of us have to get ready for the day and settle down so that the Begum can sleep. Because she won’t go to sleep if any of us is going about our business elsewhere in the house. We need to be at our stations. Of course, if you diverge from this path, she will first grumble and then yell till you fall back in line. 

We have finally taught her to sit but when she does, her bum never truly touches the floor! Her blue blood manifests in other places too. She looks down on everything. When I exercise she stares at me, judgingly, “These squats aren’t going to help you”, she seems to say. If I am on the couch, she will snuggle up next to me. But if I as much as breathe out of sync, her death stare will pierce my soul. On principle, she does not beg for our food. She demands it. She does not raid the dustbin sneakily. She attacks it as if it were her birthright.

Similarly in the evening, her dinner time is sacrosanct. Post dinner I need to be available on the couch for her to cuddle. Around 10 pm, she begins to get cranky. She needs to retire for the night but she needs to make sure that our day ends too. This is our final frontier against her absolute dominance over our lives. And we are determined to hold on to this last civil liberty. We will win or die trying.

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Next Episode | E15: A Secret Wish Comes True