Fiction

Hari Prasad

Rahul Mohanty was thinking about Hari Prasad again. Hari was a grateful brat with small legs and bright eyes. Rahul was sitting on the porch, fiddling with a ribbed basket, and was reflecting on his wild surroundings; the blaring music, the dandia songs blaring from the mics. He had always loved cozy Meerut, with its spectacular but busy life. Meerut is a place where history breathes at every corner. It is an ancient city. And the people are usually nice. Meerut is the center of Western Uttar Pradesh and you are doubtlessly going to come across ‘rough’ people but that should be fun in itself. Don’t mess with people and you should be fine. You respect them, they respect you, it is as simple as that.

But Meerut had changed a lot in the past 4 years, nothing was the same anymore. Anti-social groups had taken Meerut’s soul away and there were riots and vandalizing activities that happened every now and then. It was a place that encouraged his tendency to be surprised.

Then, he saw someone, enthusiastically approaching him. It was the grateful figure of Hari Prasad. He was wearing the same collar Rahul had gifted him. Rahul was elated yet surprised. He glanced at him with awe. Hari was splendid, wild, and handsome with strong legs but sad eyes.

***

6 years ago.

It was a sunny afternoon, Rahul, then ten years old, was playing in the verandah of his grandfather’s home. Suddenly he heard a whine and the howling of many dogs. Rahul followed the sound and came up to a very painful sight. He saw six big dogs pouncing upon a small puppy. They were barking loudly and baring their teeth at the pup.

He immediately used a slingshot in order to save the little puppy.

After 6-year-old Rahul was bitten by a dog, he had always been a dog fearing kid, but when it came to saving this small pup, not a single ounce of fear was to be seen on his face.

After throwing enough flints to scare away the dogs, Rahul rushed to the spot and lifted the wounded puppy. He grabbed a ribbed basket that had been lying nearby and gently rubbed his hand on the soft golden hair of the puppy to comfort him. Never had he seen a dog from this proximity. The puppy stared at Rahul with his hopeful watery eyes. It did not utter a single woof but its eyes were speaking volumes to Rahul, craving for his love and affection. He immediately decided to take it home despite all the scolding he would get from his mother.

When the pup arrived, Rahul noticed that it was extremely shy in and out of its kennel. Not only was he afraid of Rahul’s family, but it had to be carried around the shelter because it was too afraid to walk! Rahul immediately started working on building his confidence. “First of all, this puppy can’t remain anonymous for a very long time; it should have a proper name. Hari Prasad it is!”, Rahul exclaimed to himself after a ten-minute head scratch while giving the pup a proper name.

Initially, Hari Prasad was intimidated by the other pet dogs in the neighborhood, but with repeated morning and evening walks, he slowly adjusted to his surroundings and began enjoying spending time with other dogs. A tail wag here, a gentle nudge there. Hari Prasad was on the right path! From a shy pup, he turned into a sweet, cuddly, woofing bundle of joy.

Then came the rainy months of July. Rahul had always loved rainy days with the paper boats, muddy puddles, and the rainbows. But this time Rahul wasn’t as pleased about it.

Wonder why? Well, this was the time when Rahul was about to be separated from his new friend, Hari Prasad. July is the time when most of the summer vacations end in India, and so his best vacation was about to come to an end. Rahul’s family would have to leave now for Delhi but Hari Prasad wouldn’t be able to accompany them. Rahul cried and pleaded with his parents to take him along, but it all fell upon deaf ears. Lastly, it was decided that one of the security guards,  Bahadur Ji, would take care of the puppy. Bahadur Ji was a very kind human and he happily agreed.

 Whenever Rahul visited Meerut, he and Hari Prasad spent time together, they played for hours together, went out for walks, and everything else. Three years passed by, Hari Prasad had now become a handsome dog. In spite of not meeting Rahul frequently, he missed Rahul very much. Bahadur Ji used to call Rahul on phone and Hari Prasad used to talk to him by woofing happily and whining. Emotions overflowed when Hari and Rahul talked on the phone.

On the next vacation when Rahul and his family came, neither the guard nor the dog was anywhere to be seen. Rahul immediately rushed to Bahadur Ji’s residence only to find that he had died of TB and the dog was nowhere to be found. A stream of emotions and negativity overcame Rahul’s thoughts.

***

It’s been 4 years since then ..and suddenly to Rahul’s surprise,  he was back. As Rahul stepped outside and Hari came closer, he could see the shiny glint in his eye. Hari gazed at Rahul with affection. As if Hari said, “I missed you..”

Rahul looked at him, ten times happier, while still fiddling with the ribbed basket. “Hari, you are back! Where have you been this long?!” he exclaimed.

They looked at each other with overwhelming happiness and Rahul hugged Hari, with tears in his eyes when suddenly, Rahul’s world made sense once again.

Rahul repeated, “Where were you Hari? I searched for you and you…”

Hari barked and pulled Rahul before Rahul could even complete his sentence. Rahul followed.

They reached an old dilapidated hut. Inside he found three puppies and their mother. Rahul’s eyes were filled with tears. He was happy to see that Hari had grown up to be a responsible family dog. He felt extremely proud. But to his dismay, the mother dog was sick and dying.

Hari looked at Rahul with questioning eyes. They were hopeful just like the day when Rahul saved him. “Can you do the same with my puppies? This time, can you take them home instead?”, his eyes seemed to ask.

Rahul immediately put the puppies in the same basket and walked towards the house, with a proud and happy father walking beside him.

That vacation, instead of one, he had three pups playing around in the garden. Rahul looked into Hari’s happy eyes. “I feel the same way!” revealed Rahul with a delighted grin. Hari looked extremely happy!

***

CLINK! The living room glass window cracked. Clink! Another shard of glass came flying into the house. Grandma rushed and pulled the curtains down. “It’s the riots again. They have been quite common in the past few months after the change of the government,” she said, extremely tensed.

Mom pushed everybody into a room in the attic.  Grandfather was sick on the bed and dad had gone for a few days to Ghaziabad to meet Rahul’s aunt.

Mom was frightened and tried to call up the police but the antisocials had already cut the telephone wires.

It was a while after Rahul and his younger sister were inside the attic when they heard severe barking. Rahul was very scared about Hari Prasad and his pups. When he looked out of the window,  he saw Hari Prasad was barking severely at three goons near the gate and attacking and pouncing at them. He was barking fiercely. Hearing him bark, eight other street dogs from the neighborhood joined him and attacked the goons. The Goons were injured and ran away. But in this course, Hari Prasad was severely wounded. As the neighborhood calmed down a bit, Rahul rushed down to pick him up. He immediately took him inside and provided first aid. It was such a difficult sight to see the robust dog lying helplessly on the ground.

The next day they took him to the vet. The vet gave him a few medicines but informed them that he wouldn’t survive for more than a day or two. They took him back. Hari with his painful eyes stared at Rahul lifelessly. Nothing could make a difference anymore. Everybody had to give in to the reality, that these were the last few days with Hari Prasad.

 Every night Rahul used to pet Hari after dinner and tell him a short good night story. It is only after that story that Hari dozed off. But on that very night when Rahul went to Hari, with a bowl of biscuits, he found Hari sleeping already and didn’t disturb him.

Little did he know that he wouldn’t wake up anymore. The following day, when Rahul went to wake Hari up, anguish and anxiety-filled Rahul’s nerves. Hari was lying lifeless.  Rahul’s eyes filled with water and he became numb.  The morning turned into a hopeless one. Everyone was low and Rahul was completely devastated.

 Rahul and his family went to a nearby tree grove, an extended part of a jungle, and buried him. It was a sight Rahul couldn’t bear and he ran off to Hari’s pups and wept with them endlessly.

Weeks passed, and it was time for them to leave for Delhi again. But this time, Rahul’s mom herself proposed the idea of taking the pups to Delhi. It was something Rahul had never imagined. His happiness knew no bounds.  Now that he had a part of Hari with him, he vowed to take care of them with all that he had and more.

Written by:- Disha

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