Grown and Gone
by J. Kaval
On a Christmas day she appeared in our backyard near the garbage pit searching for food. Next day she was near the cattle shed playing with the newly born calf. Then she was found in the company of cows, goats, sheep and chickens in our compound. She was soon seen around the house moving freely. She has adopted us.
Where did she come from? How did she get into our compound? Who were her parents? Which Kulam did she belong to? We have no idea. We had no way to inquire more about her. Ours was a small farm fenced with barbed wire. Our immediate neighbors were a kilometer away. We were an elderly couple all by ourselves. We had two children one boy and a girl. Both of them were settled in foreign countries, son in US and daughter in UK. We needed company. We named our new arrival Panchami after our daughter.
Panchami was brown with white patches on her neck, abdomen and legs. She looked as if she had put on white socks. She was slim, her tail long and bushy, proclaiming her link to a royal lineage. Her face betrayed her distant relation to a noble family, her barking had traces of pedigree, her eyes and looks were fiery and fascinating as well.
Within a couple of weeks Panchami established herself. She marked the line of control and held her domain within the compound. No visitor was allowed inside without her warning bark. Casual beggars and mendicants kept away from the gate. Small time thieves and rag pickers did not dare to come near the fence. Cattle feeders and shepherds stayed from the boundary. She allowed no intruder from any quarter. Infiltrators were chased away. Rodents and rats began to disappear from the farm. Snakes and rabbits were either driven out or killed. Stray animals stopped rambling in.
Panchami proved herself an able watch maid. We had to warn the passersby and the unwelcome guests with a board on the main gate. We also had to install a box for the postman and the
newspaper boy who otherwise used to deliver goods at the doorstep. The meter reader from the electricity board stopped coming to the house. He did not want get bitten by her. She was friendly with the milkman Devanna who supplied her with a glass of fresh milk. She was also very fond of our housemaid Anju who occasionally gave her a bath and brushing.
At dawn and dusk Panchami would appear at the door of the kitchen for her share of meal from my wife. She ate whatever was offered. She would settle for a while in our portico. After a nap she would go on her rounds. She would see me off at the gate. She was punctual at the gate to greet me on my return from the nearby town. She could recognize the sound of our car. She was always sure to get a couple of biscuits. We did not put a collar around her neck. We never chained her. We had decided that she should grow like our children in freedom and responsibility. She was our Saakhumagalu (adopted daughter). But my wife never permitted her inside the house though I was more than willing to grant her even that freedom.
Panchami grew faster than our thoughts. She became tall, long, strong and shapely. She looked beautiful maiden.
As seasons went by we noticed Panchami venturing outside the barbed fencing. Gradually her absence became frequent and prolonged. But She would be at our side from nowhere at a mere call. One day she did not respond to our call, neither did she turn up for the evening meal, or show up in the morning. She just vanished. She had quietly disappeared just as she had appeared about ten months ago. The milkman Devanna reported hearing her howling in the woods called California, an enclave a few kilometers away from our farm where rich landlords lived with their pedigree dogs.
My wife whispered: “Panchami might have settled with her boy friend.”
“Yea, indeed, just like our children, grown and gone for ever leaving us alone.”END