the dog

The dog wasn’t dead.  I saw her shape in the corner of my eye as I left my office building, headed into the cramped back alley to buy some chocolate.

I got a good look on my way back, nibbling my Kit Kat.  Thick cords of yellowish gunk trailed from both eyes and ran down her snout.  She was so skinny — her body looked grotesque, like she wasn’t a dog anymore. A collection of bones.  Foam bubbled thickly from her mouth.  I felt like vomiting.

She stuck in my mind over the weekend, like so many other upsetting images have: that naked baby girl lying in the dirt, in the sun, next to a busy road, like drying laundry; that dog beaten to death with a pole while kids ran to watch; and now, this living skeleton.

That Monday, I left my office during lunch, this time to buy a butter paneer sandwich. Again, in the corner of my eye, I saw a paw. And when I returned, I saw her get up and trot down the road. She didn’t look to be in any better shape.

13 responses to “the dog

  1. emilythehopeless

    that is just heartbreaking. .

  2. It would have been better served if you fed that animal something in addition to writing about it.

  3. jenny and dave

    12th Man – (Jenny here)

    Oh, I wanted to. I really thought she was dead the first day, but after I knew she was still alive, I wanted to leave her food and take her to a vet and maybe adopt her.

    And when I saw that baby girl on the side of the road, I ran scenarios through my head for weeks about going back, snatching her, and adopting her.

    And when I saw the man running after the dog with the pole, I wanted to block his path with my body to protect the dog.

    I didn’t and I don’t because poverty, sickness, and death are everywhere in India in huge and overwhelming numbers.

    And, how can I feed the dog who, from the looks of it, was suffering far worse than malnutrition, when there are children who don’t get enough food living in the same alley? And if I feed those children, and that dog, what about the countless other children and dogs I see on a daily basis? It’s never-ending…

  4. Jenny and Dave,

    Please watch a Bolllywood movie called “Traffic Signal” You might have already but it shows how begging in India is part of organised crime.
    Next, count your blessings– pickpockets haven’t learned to use babies as distraction for tourists while they pickpockets like in Rome Italy, Paris France.

  5. smartypantsmoney

    How is it justifiable that you didn’t help that dog because of thousands of others that you can’t help? That entry just made me sick.

  6. Jenny – I too live in Delhi and completely understand the way you acted. If you let yourself become involved in the thousand heart wrenching tragedies you see everyday you would just go mad. Much better to find another and more cohesive way to make a difference, for instance supporting a respected charity. Day to day you just have to concentrate on making it through.

  7. Jenny

    You actually reacted like most Indians do. They ignore the sadness around them and march on and some, like Delhi Girl suggests, do other, systemic things to make a difference.

    Words like spirituality, society, emotion etc are associated with Indians; this sort of extreme rationality is probably more common though.

  8. I get that Jenny. I’m happy that you atleast spared a thought for those ill-fed and impoverished, something that many Indians don’t care about.

  9. I’m from India, and I know sights like this are depressingly common and utterly maddening. Still, is there anything you’re enjoying there? I don’t mean that facetiously – I’d like to know if it’s possible for foreign visitors to survive there long-term without becoming completely disillusioned by the realities of Indian life.

  10. Your blog may have to become required reading for armchair americans. Now when someone asks me how I can tolerate seeing such poverty and the like when I am in India, I can point them in your direction. It doesn’t take long, does it, to become inured to the overwhelmingness of it all? I really do hate the implied “you are a selfish, heartless, unsympathetic bitch” for not becoming the next Mother Teresa.

    Having said that, helping one soul is still helping one soul. While it may not seem like a lot and may actually drive home the vastness of the pain and suffering of the rest, it is still effective. Isn’t it? It may not do anything to reduce the overall, but you would have helped that one soul.

  11. I agree with bombaygirl. If you can find it in your capacity to help even one being, just do it.
    As far as ‘sparing a thought’ for the ill-fed and the undernourished is concerned, I’m sorry to say, everyone does that. Sparing a thought seems to be the national pastime here. The fact that only a handful of people do something about it is the biggest tragedy of this country.

  12. I am assuming after seeing the sad looking dog you did enjoy your meat for dinner.

  13. VN: Did you just accuse us of eating that dog???

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