– Geeta Sundar

Goofy is a beautiful Labrador who stays a few houses down my lane. I had a chance encounter to meet him a few weeks back. As my usual routine, I was walking back from the gym when I saw a golden speck with a tongue reaching over a short wall. He seemed so enthusiastic and excited. I did what any normal dog lover would do – I walked over to the gate and gave him a nice pat on his head through the bars.

And that was it.

He had smelled me, licked my wrist and completely welcomed me. While I was floored…because I have been wanting to raise a pup since before I could even add and having such a gorgeous dog live near me, was a completely wasted opportunity if I didn’t visit him every day. (Surely!) And so, I did just that. I befriended his caretaker, who took him for his daily walks and continued my clandestine meetings with Goofy. Clandestine – as I really didn’t want his owners knowing there was a dog-crazy person loving and talking sweet nothings to their pup.

And through my course of daily encounters with Goofy, I realised what a reckless, untrained and silly baby he was. He loved jumping up and down like he was in a circus – and ended up knocking my glasses to the ground a few times. Hardly a year old and he didn’t know the definition of ‘sit’, ‘paw’ or even ‘no’! He lifted his right paw for left, slept when I said sit and jumped when I offered him a teeny biscuit. He was just focused on being excited. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. And none the wiser.

And here is where the stark difference bit me. I was still going to meet the goof, try my best to tame him with patience and interest. I was still going to enjoy meeting him, albeit my presence having being detected by the family. And I was still going to enjoy those few minutes as the highlight of my day when I could get his silly self to slobber all over me and my dress.

Which brings me to the important part of this blog – the last few months in India have been drowned in hatred, killings and torture. Lynching, the mob, kidnaping, homicide and insane levels of intolerance to fellow humans. Reading the newspaper for the national and regional headlines is a misery waiting to overload. I start my read from the back sections and when I reach past the international news, I automatically shut the paper close.

Apparently, humans can ‘usually’ be kind to dogs, cats, birds, and even make them celebrities with their own Instagram pages, but when it comes to another human, humans have nothing to be kind about. What is it about humans, I wonder, that makes us this impatient to another human’s sorrow, or pain or incapability to be perfect? I can show the tenacity to be kind to a dog I don’t know and also have the patience to try to not mind his raw behaviour as he jumps on me like a headless chicken; and do all this for an animal that is cute, cuddly and handsome. But what then of the pitiful neighbour with cancer, or the auto driver with a large family deficit, or the poor guy who helps someone to only get penalized by a mob, or the disabled person finding it hard to cross the street.

Humans want to adopt lame, harmed rescues and create exceptional lives for them. But what then, I wonder, of naive lives beaten to death, innocent lives trapped in hordes of torture? Who comes to their rescue? Activists, NGO’s? Maybe, maybe not…till it becomes a legal front page news and then an investigation starts only to end up with no evidence. What then of these harassed minds? What then of the damage we as humans create to other humans like us? Who is responsible? Who will answer? Who will take blame and try a rectification of sorts?

My far-uncle passed away a few months ago due to a metastatic pancreatic tumor. He was a very authoritative, smart and proud man who had accomplished some life goals that thousands other dream of. He had a great family, great monetary returns and had enjoyed his life to the hilt. But when cancer came calling, it brought him down and low. Despite being admitted, despite being pumped up with chemotherapy and having numerous plastic tubes hanging from his body, his mind was as sharp as a scalpel. He wanted to talk. He wanted to chat, gossip and also taunt. He didn’t let go of any of his personality characteristics.
The one thing he wanted was to live. He didn’t care for how long or in which way or where. He just wanted to live. He wanted to live another day, another minute and another moment.

And therein lies the crux of human life. We all want to live. We want to live happily. We do everything to live happily. And that, I realized is the secret to ensuring we treat each other right. If we can understand that every person wants to be happy, and we want to be happy, maybe with little conscious efforts we can make small changes to our behaviour, body language and words. If one human treats another with compassion, love and understanding for what is their right to their happiness, we can be the revolving trend that allows deep seated human culture to track back to how it was eons before the smart phone became our only companion. I guess, at the base of it all, we are all just clueless about life. Life ain’t hard, humans make it hard and it is up to us be the extra kindness sprinkled on someone’s smile.

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