The two women were a familiar sight to the guards and the local domestics. They carried a stick each with a strangely apologetic air, not knowing when an articulate animal lover might spring from behind the bushes.
“I am sorry Rashmi, I slept through the alarm yesterday, hope you did not wait for me!” The taller of the two, Rashmi was gracious, “It is all right Meeta but it is unsafe to walk alone, that black dog came out of nowhere at me but I used my stick, I think it hit him on the nose.”
The two feared their colony street dogs that neither the MCD nor the resident welfare association would touch. Diffusing a canine was apparently more complicated than launching the PSLV C-23. The walkers had therefore evolved a signature move. They would lower one end of their long canes on the tar road, the scraping sound promptly sent the dogs into subdued skulks although there was no telling the canine hormones!
The hour was a trifle incongruous to go striding, not much stirred at 4.30 am. They walked in silence for the most part, commenting intermittently and dryly on the lack of breeze, the faulty street lights, the litter by the road and other fitness options close by.
“Good lord, what is that lying on the temple road?” the two quickened their pace to pull up near the narrow lane one day. “Two shoes from different pairs and a small slipper; must be a pup playing hooky in the night when the household is asleep” Rashmi chuckled to herself, recalling the antics of her own Beagle snoring back home.
A toilet brush one day, a magazine the next, even a mosquito repellent dispenser once! The two looked up from a quartered shoe box in the middle of the road one morning to take in the little statues, flower petals and red scarves scattered under the temple tree. “This shrine blesses expectant mothers with sons, my maid servant made an offering here, she has three daughters already.” Rashmi shrugged her shoulders at Meeta’s words, “Are you serious?”
They had turned around the main gate notice board, gripping their canes at the sound of distant barking. The guards were asleep, rhythmic traffic sounds lulling them unhelpfully. “Oops, did you feel a drop? It is beginning to drizzle?” Two Chinese umbrellas snapped open as they resumed cautiously, “This is odd, it looks like a pack today” Meeta whispered into the sound of falling water. They narrowed their eyes at the sight of five dogs huddled around an object, their heads bobbing. Rashmi sucked the moist air, perturbed at the sounds of ferocious gluttony.
"Is that a stuffed Little Lulu?” they swung their sticks at the busy dogs with a sense of alarm. Meeta howled into the rinsing dark. The animals growled back, their rapacious sounds adding to the turbidity of fear and horror.