A Formidable Adversary - contd
by Dr. Subhash Chandra
Back to page 1 of the story
My mother marshalled my growing up years with an iron hand, laying down a slew of dos and don’ts. The entrapment of a neighbour’s son by a ‘fast’ girl into wedlock and the boy’s abandonment of his parents post-marriage had made mother paranoid about her future security.
I riffled through the papers, calculated mentally and knew the rough figure. I rang up a couple of friends, running NGOs for the rights of the Tribals, and for the rehabilitation of homeless children. Receipts for ten lakhs each were fixed -- this amount would be exempt from income tax under section 80 G.
She gawked at me in surprised joy. I told her about two lakhs remained unaccounted for. “No issues with that. I will put in some admissible expenses to square it up.”
“My CA is a nincompoop compared to you.”
Was it only gratitude that made her plant a kiss on my cheek, warm and wet? Even as I was feeling elated, I saw a pair of liquid eyes shining in the dark of the adjoining room. Or was it my imagination.
It was not. The next evening, over a cup of tea, Padmaja talked about Colonel. I missed a heartbeat. Was I going to be thwarted by a rival?
“Who is this gentleman,” I asked.
She laughed. “He is my Great Dane.”
I sighed with visible relief.
“Why did you name him Colonel?”
“You know, he is a great warrior. Twice he saved my life from robbers. Once they were armed with firearms. But was Colonel scared? He does not bark and believes in action. And he is alert and fast and intelligent. He strategizes his actions. That night one of the three guys had his pistol aimed at me, while demanding the keys to the cupboard. Colonel came up behind them, swung in the air biting off the wrist of the gunman. Simultaneously, with his paws he scratched the face of another fellow. The robbers did not know what had struck them and from where. They panicked and evaporated. She had grown animated while talking about Colonel.
Now we had started meeting frequently. If I did not visit her for a week or ten days, she would ring up and complain. We would chat desultorily over a cup of tea and then she would invariably insist on my dining with her. But to my discomfort, she would always talk about Colonel in some context or the other. And
her tone became soft and endearing then.
“You know, Colonel is terribly fond of me. Once I was away to Shimla and my maid told me he refused to touch food and got depressed. He refused to move out of his room and sulked all day. After I got back, I had to take him to the Vet who put him on mood uplifters for some time.”
At another time Padmaja told me, “You know Ketan, Colonel has a distinguished pedigree. His grandfather, Alexander, was in the Crime Cell. He solved several complicated crimes and won laurels for tracking down criminals. His father was one of the fiercest hounds in the pack of a famous hunter who prized him. Maternally, too, he is well ....” I again espied the pair of eyes glowing in the dark room.
I had had too much of Colonel. “O.K. then, I will push off.”
But she was not yet finished with Colonel. In our next meeting, she first talked about a particularly complicated delivery which nearly killed the child because the umbilical cord was wound round the child’s neck like a noose. But in no time, she reverted to Colonel – his body measurements, the height of his jump etc., etc.
We kept meeting regularly, and slowly we felt closer to each other. Now we sat holding hands which I kissed many times and talked about things. I thought the time had come to fulfil my desire that was thwarted at college. One night when after dinner, she stood before me, I thought I saw a longing in her eyes. I pulled her to myself and covered her mouth with mine. What a celestial experience, by Jove! She responded eagerly and I did not know how long we remained lip-locked. But then suddenly, I felt a searing pain in my butt and I screamed like crazy. As I fell down, writhing in intolerable pain, I saw the Great Dane with a big chunk of my flesh, blood dripping from his mouth.
It took several surgeries and about a year for the deep gash to heal. Of course, she helped me through it with all her resources. Got me the best surgeon, and also took personal care of me at the hospital, neglecting her practice.
Now she was coming to my house, as I refused to set foot where Colonel was. And after sometime I made her a conditional proposal, a la Bollywood – either Colonel or me in the house.
The choice was clear! ***