Let me introduce myself. My name is ‘Selfie’, but before that I was called a street dog, a stray, a pariah dog, a dirty, filthy animal. It doesn’t matter to me, not anymore, because my human chose to name me, rather than to define me. What’s more, she calls me dolly-girl when I’m being good, naughty-girl when I’m being bad, and nani-maa (grandmother in Hindi) when I’m being a lazy-old-lady basking in the sun. Oh I love the sun! Well, I am a breed native to India, and like all Indians, I am very vocal and full of life. Want to have a peep into my life? Here’s my incredibly funny and unusual story, just for you.
Chapter 1: The day I opened my eyes
This is me, a bag of bones. One could easily count all my ribs those days. I remember, the day I opened my eyes, I found everyone from my family missing. I stayed put in my home, a narrow unused lane with garbage. Day and night, I slept scared in my bed, a tiny hollow of stones, waiting for my mama and family. I could barely sniff them with my tiny nose, and I dare not leave home as some identical creatures, with nose bigger than mine, visited me and showed me dadagiri. There were some two-legged creatures too who didn’t much bother about my existence. Days passed by, but neither mama nor my siblings had returned. “Do they even exist? Am I an orphan?” I did not have the strength or time to cry because, as I was about to, my stomach cried louder- feed me!!!
Chapter 2: My first friend
Feeble and frail, I scavenged for a few days, with my stomach squeezed in, and ate whatever was chewable; some things got digested, but some just flushed out, making me feel sick. Starving for weeks, I was all skin and bones, ready to sleep forever. In all drowsiness, one morning, I could see a smiling face approaching me. Shining eyes, big nose, smiling face, sniffs, wagging tail…. oh no IT’S A DOG!!!! I screamed and ran for my life, but this black and white spotted dog, just few inches taller than me, gently nudged me and licked my face. ‘Please don’t eat me!’ instantly changed to ‘Is this what dog-friends do?’ After a very long time I had someone to call my own. My first friend, Spotty. I started hanging out with my new friend, Spotty, who taught me how to find good-to-eat food.
Chapter 3: The art of grabbing
Spotty showed me a snack-factory near the lane where I was living. Every day, a singing garbage-van and a kind human in it used to arrive, pick up the garbage from the factory, and leave the stale food for tail-waggers like us. It looked easy, but it wasn’t, since there were bigger dogs, with me being the tiniest. Fights over a morsel was a common sight. I could never make it to a piece of snack, not even the last one, without a bruise. Spotty shared his grabbed bite with me every day, and kept teaching me the art of grabbing. After many fights and struggles, the day had come, when I bravely pushed my way into the crowd of long legs and snarly teeth to get my first half-snack. Spotty and I ate cheerfully, and strolled together all day. Life on the street was making me tough and ready to face all trials. I was becoming a fighter and also someone who can share with her fellow beings. Above all, I enjoyed running carefree with my friend, Spotty, tugging at him, playing with him, barking and chasing the cats in our lane, and so on, making my dull, monotonous life worth living.
Chapter 4: I found food, but lost hunger
The singing garbage-van did not come this week, and one afternoon Spotty and I saw a man from the snack-factory sneaking into my lane and dumping something in packets. Spotty and I could sniff something good, and so we ran in joy. While it was food with dead rats, it was our food, the one we could eat in peace without grabbing. That day we ate to our hearts’ content. But later that night, Spotty felt sick, and he kept sleeping besides me. The next day, I woke up to the sound of the singing garbage-van. In a hurry to grab some food, I ran to the van. All the dogs were present, but Spotty was missing. Where are you Spotty? I need you besides me to grab our share of food? I ran back to sniff Spotty lying still, as if he’s playing dead. No time for games Spotty, wake up! A gooey pungent liquid was sticking to Spotty’s mouth. I did not like the smell of it. Spotty did not respond to my nudges or licks. I sat there all day waiting for him to wake up. A man came the next day and took Spotty away in a sack. I had found food, but lost hunger.
Chapter 5: Back to Square One
The glorious food made me throw up all day. I was weak and sad. I missed my friend Spotty a lot. Since I had not eaten for two days in a row, I was dog-hungry, and I saw some of that packet food still lying around in the lane. As I approached the leftovers, the sneaky man shooed me away by pelting stones, but since hunger was taking a toll, I went back anyways. At my next move, he threw water on me to drive me out. By this time, the singing garbage-van had arrived. The kind garbage collector, picking up the leftovers in haste, also chased me away gently. I had no choice but to walk away. Now, I had no food, no one to call my own. I was back to square one.
Chapter 6: The Reality
Coming out of my dreamy night, I shake myself and begin searching for something to eat. Usually, I used to manage to find some stale food or some dry meat bones. But food never came easily for me, an unwanted and stray, as I have to compete with many others in the neighbourhood. Dogs often used to bite me and hurt me in the process of grabbing a morsel. One day, I landed in the drain in the process. May be that’s life for us street dogs, is what I had accepted. With tiny, invisible and annoying insects biting my wounded skin, I was scratching all day and managing to survive, one day at a time. Most of the days, I was yelled at, stoned and chased by kids and their family members, and I had to run for my life. But not all days were bad. Some days, if I was lucky, a kind family used to feed me biscuits and milk. Some humans did even pat me on the head, saying loving words, while I was too timid even to wag my tail. It’s like, my tail had forgotten its function and remembered the reality, that I was unloved and unwanted.
Chapter 7: Love at First Chase
One morning, a gang of dogs chased me, but my skinny body managed to slip into a house, through a gap under the gate. Phew! It was a close shave. I shivered in the corner, behind a grotto, and at the same instant, I saw a human approaching and chasing away those dogs. The human did not see me though. I was relieved to know, that I finally had ‘my corner’ to save myself from those monstrous dogs. This happened frequently, and one fine day, while shooing away the dogs, that human saw me hiding in the corner. Oh crap! Run! What’s with these humans and their chasing, I wondered. One lane into another, and this chase was not stopping. “Catch you! Catch you!”, exclaimed the human. This chase felt different, as we were running around a big house in circles, like I used to with Spotty. That human and I were having fun, though she made me run for my life. When she stopped chasing me, she did not approach me, rather, she left some water and food near the gate, and went inside. I stopped to catch a breath, came closer to drink the fresh water and eat the rotis, while this human peeped from inside her house. I smacked my lips and blinked my eyes while looking at her peeping. It was love at first chase.
Chapter 8: From unwanted to unbelievable
Slipping easily through under the gate, one day, when I visited ‘my corner’, I saw a warm blanket kept there. From that day onwards, I slept snug like a bug, and ‘my corner’ had become my favourite place to be in, both day and night. I was just 4 months old, when I got the name ‘Selfie’ and a family to call my own. They served me fresh food, caring for nothing in return, not even a tail wag. I had had a bad life in the beginning, yet I hold no grudge. It’s just that, sometimes it is hard to accept the reality when it looks like a dream. My humans spoke gently to me, understood me, waited for me to approach them, cared for my needs, and gave me a toy and a dog-brother, Tuffy, to play with. After months of waiting, I was grateful to finally be loved. Within the next few weeks, I slipped through under the gate, right into their hearts. My tail learned to wag and love once again. My family darlings me for who I am, and I love them for letting me be me– Pretty, Adorable, Reliable, Intelligent, Alert, Humble, which abbreviates to PARIAH. This is my story- from unwanted to unbelievable.