Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened

Yesterday, a cow made me cry. As I opened my gate, I saw a cow standing outside, rubbing itself against a bicycle. It must be feeling some itching as it’s face was all covered with mud. May be it drowned it’s head in a puddle to drink some water. I kept looking at it, its helplessness. How the poor thing was sometimes rubbing its head, sometimes its sides against the cycle. When the cycle was about to fall, it got scared and strolled away. After a while it again came came back, looked at me standing at the doorstep, I too looked into its eyes. My love filled glances asked her,

Are you hungry.. ok… stay here awhile..I will bring some chappatis for you.

And she just stayed there, looking inside the gate with those loving, asking, accepting, beautiful eyes. I was scared it might go away by the time I came back but no, it was there , the same eyes were there. But the two small chappatis were such a meager thing for it. It wanted more , may be it wanted to drink some water too. My heart was just melting. Every animal I see here, in India , in the streets, though there aren’t as many as there used to be years ago, reminds me of my Pucchu (My Dog) back home in US. Every animal’s eyes look like his. Through the eyes of this cow, I felt my Pucchu was looking at me, imploring me , exchanging those love glances with me.  My eyes got misty. There was so much of love in the eyes of that cow. I am just unable to forget those eyes.

We don’t find any stray animals there in New York except a cat here and there. Either the animals are in their shelter houses or they are kept and pampered as pets. You will see immaculately dressed up dogs and cats, sitting in prams being pulled by their owners. A real good chicken feed, dry fruits, good medical aid…all is available for them. Animals born in America are lucky, I guess. Well, we are still a developing nation. Things are improving though at a fast speed, so it seems.

A few days ago, I was standing at my gate, looking amusingly at a long row of parrots, the chasing of squirrels, so small comparatively to what we see in US, listening to the kooing of koels, may be they were pleading for some showers . Just as I turned around to move into the house, I saw a very small cat, sitting on its hunches, looking straight into my eyes. I just stood still so that it may not get scared by my movements. Again in its eyes, I saw eyes of Pucchu. I felt as if he is looking at me. My heart filled with love . I wanted to go in and bring some milk for it but I knew if I moved, it would run away. I took a few pictures of this beautiful creature. It kept sitting in that very pose, giving me some beautiful shots, like Pucchu does. When I moved a bit, it ran away. I felt Pucch came to meet me in its form. Actually, I feel Pucchu often comes to meet me through all the animals that I see moving around here in the streets .

Then I wonder, has Pucchu filled my heart with love for all the animals. Is it this love in my very own heart that makes me see love , and my loving Pucchu, in the eyes of all the animals .
Love always transforms you for whosoever it is . Love fills you with compassion. Love and compassion are so akin.

I never ever loved animals. I was scared of dogs, could never ever pick them up in my arms, hold in my lap. If kids brought some, I would just tolerate them for a day or two and then donate them to some animal lover.

Then one day, two years ago, as I was sitting all cuddled up in my bed, due to the increasing cold, my son and his girlfriend come in , had something wrapped in a green blanket and they put that in my lap. It was Pucchu, just a few days old. My heart just felt an unbounded love. It was like my son and daughter in law have just come back from the hospital with their new born. Why I felt this, I don’t know. But I was brimming with love . As I held the little sweet thing in my arms, in my lap , love just oozed out of my every pore. It was still to be named but I instantly called it , Pucchu and till date , whatever others might call it, it is my Pucchu.

Why the instant affection, why this simmering of love… were there some karmic relations… was it a soul that wanted to be with me or the other way round, I wanted to be with it.

Pucchu was just a month old when it reached us. After every few hours , my son would pick him up, take him to the bathroom and it would pee there. My main concern always had been the smells in the house because of the peeing of the dogs here and there but barring a few exceptions Pucchu never peed in the house . We spread a pee sheet for him in the bathroom and keep the door a little open . it always runs there when it feels the urge and if the bathroom is occupied, it knocks at the door and keeps sitting there until the door opens. The only complaint that I could have against keeping a pet is just pelted over by Pucchu.

He has all the human emotions, gets angry if my son is late even by an hour, doesn’t talk to him, keeps sitting edged against my leg… becomes very happy when it gets a new toy, sleeps with it ….goes near the door, pushes it hard when it wants to go out. What is most …is that when I was packing my bags for my visit to India , it sensed it all and wouldn’t leave me alone, always following me, whether in kitchen or in bedroom, even would sneak peek into the bathroom to check if I was there. Now it is too annoyed with me, turns its face away when me and my son FaceTime and even tries to pull him away, saying in his own way… don’t talk to her… she left us.

How he learnt all this, we never taught me any of these things. I miss him sitting on the mat in the kitchen, intently watching me cooking and waiting when it all be over so that I can sit with him all cuddled up in my lap in the bed. Even when he just entered our house for the first time, after a day or two, he would come to me, push away my diary, my pen, my iPad , with his little paw so that he could sit in my lap. And I would also leave writing and sit with him, patting his head, rubbing his back. I miss him opening the bathroom door a little to check if all was ok if I took a longer there.

I miss him running to me, hovering around me if I coughed a little bit or even if I heaved a deep sigh and most of all his coming to me in the morning, pulling the quilt from over my head , giving me a kiss and then cuddling against me till I get up. Last time I came to India , he was very small and I was told , he goes near my bed and virtually sheds tears . From tears I remember, if he sees a tear in my eyes, he starts screaming and wiping and kissing my face. You just can’t cry if Pucchu is there .

Now I know why God sent Pucchu to me. He wanted to fill my heart with love for all the animals. I see his eyes in the eyes of all the animals and my heart just overflows with love. Those eyes keep chasing me even in my sleep. I wish here also we have shelters for all the street animals where they can have shade and food and water and bath and a little bit of love.

The other day I was looking at that cat. How beautifully designed ….the streaks, the shady spots, the tail…everything perfect and I remember how I love watching Pucchu. He is as if painted by a painter…those two perfect spots near the eyes, a little mustache and a beard too…the color on the front legs and its forehead …all so perfect . Looking at its forehead I feel as if it has a tilak there, making it look so pious. When I hug it , a strange kind of peace and oneness descends on me . There is some cosmic connection, some beautiful energy riding through it. It is so meditative. The only thing is Pucchu moves. If he doesn’t move , we can really mediate together.

What’s it? Is it some kind of attachment, I wonder . Why this attachment now when I am almost done with all attachments, when I feel free, when it is like vaanprastha for me. Then I surrender to the Grand Overall Design. Nothing ever happens without a reason. There must be some more lessons to learn. But one thing I am sure this made me compassionate towards all kind of animals. May be, I needed to learn this too in this birth. Thank you GOD.

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Rajesh Joshi
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