Saifu was brought (or bought!) by Narender Singh to fulfill a promise he made to his daughter when India won an international cricket tournament. The cost was really a hole in the pocket. But never mind, the promise was to be kept. Saifu was a dog of pug variety which you often see in ads by a mobile phone service provider. For a moment there is no dog like propensity in the animal. It’s a toy, albeit live.
Narender always termed Saifu as no dog since Saifu lacked many of the qualities generally a dog possesses. It doesn’t bark, it was tiny for a dog’s size, its growth was slow, it doesn’t care who is its owner or who is a guest, it moves freely with anybody, it sleeps most of the time, it refuses to take an extra round in the morning or evening rounds when the owner takes it for urination or potty and it is very very lazy. All of these were true since we never heard Saifu barking or attacking anyone. In fact, we imagined how would be its voice when it barks. Saifu was and has been afraid of only Mrs Narender who never allowed to pug to enter her kitchen and got some sound smacking whenever it tried to. Saifu is fond of Narender since at 6 o clock in the morning when Saifu is desparate to go out to answer nature’s call, Narender is the only person in the family who took care. Saifu took liberty also for this as at times it climbed the bed and scratched Narender a few times to woke him up. Narender and family and we neighbors were now adjusted and habituated with Saifu more as a toy than a dog.
Enter into the scene two huge black Labradors belonging to the next flat resident. These two were ferocious looking and always loudly barking creatures whenever they saw anyone in the lift corridor through the iron grill door of the flat. Thankfully the owner of the dogs kept the iron grill door closed always. Some of the animal instincts (or should I say, some canine instincts) started developing in Saifu. He started barking and that too quite angrily. He started challenging the dogs next door. There was now a curious and funny scene of barking of dogs in adjacent iron grill doors. All three dogs barked, two in one side and one in another without any opportunity to look at each other. Saifu, whenever taken out for morning or evening stroll, would rush first towards the iron grill door of the adjacent flat and bark at top of its voice. The opposition is no less ferocious and would return the ‘fire’ in more vociferous scale. Saifu’s companion would have a tough time to control him and to take to the lift. Even from lift cage, Saifu’s voice could be heard. There was no match in sizes of the Labradors and Saifu. Saifu is a tiny creature of hardly 6 inches height and may be weighing a little over 4 kgs whereas his opponents were well built, a height of 2 and half feet to 3 feet and may be weighing 25 to 40 kgs. But the agility of both sides were same and Saifu never bothered about his persona so long as the daring is concerned.
This went on for some time. One day we heard that one of the Labrador is dead. Saifu continued its tirade against the unequal opponent in the same raucous way. Saifu was not aware of the death of one of the Labrador. In fact I have never seen Saifu barking at them by looking at them. His gaze is always towards the ground. And the Labradors shouted always with their face towards the roof. So it was intriguing whether they were actually barking at each other with a violent intent or actually they were having a conversation in their own inimitable way.
Since last few weeks, we were hearing only Saifu’s barking with no response from the other side. We enquired and were told that the remaining Labrador has also died few weeks ago. Saifu is unaware of death and birth. For him they exist next door. So Saifu barks as it is used to do so. We continue to hear his barking and scratching the floor outside the door at the adjacent flat. It’s a kind of solace for Saifu and some kind of eternal companionship for him as he feels their existence next door. Saifu finds his voice every time he comes out of his home and raises it to full pitch. For him they have never died, they have gifted him his voice and some of his own instincts which Saifu had lost in the company of human beings.