Yesterday my household-help recounted an incident that occurred a few years back. That particular day, on reaching her place of work, as was usual, she removed her slippers and left it at the door before stepping into the house to do her assigned chores. On stepping out a few hours later she found that where she had left two perfectly shaped slippers, she now had one still in its original form, and another which looked like it had been in an explosion.
It might seem mysterious to you and me, the way one of the slippers had magically disintegrated (though there remained one significant piece which made identification easier) in that short while she had been inside, but not so to her. Where we, the ignorant might have twiddled thumbs waiting for a modern day Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot to arrive and do the honors, she took one look and divined who the culprit was. No, it was not the butler who did it, but the pooch from next door.
She held the been-in-an-explosion looking slipper by the scruff of its mangled neck, and marched next door purposefully. The Memsahib of the house was lolling on a chair in the lawn, looking cool, having freshly bathed, a cool drink on the peg table by her side, not to mention the cool breeze that was gently blowing, playing with her curls, and of course the pooch in question on the grass, his cold nose pressed against her feet. In short, everything was at its coolest best.
“Look what your dog has done, Memsahib!” cried the justly aggrieved woman in indignant tones.
“Eh? What? What?!!” asked the Memsahib in an astonished manner, sort of, ‘I don’t believe this is happening to me’ edge to the voice.
“Your dog has chewed the slipper I left outside when I went in to work!” the women said firmly, thrusting the evidence forward for the Memsahib to view all the better.
It is doubtful whether the Memsahib even glanced at the offending piece of evidence thus shoved unceremoniously under her discerning nose. And yet, strangely enough, the Memsahib’s face started to change color. It turned from a perfectly normal colored human face to one that resembled an apple, an alarmingly angry one at that.
“What did you call my Juno, eh?!!” she thundered. “You called my Juno, a dog!!!! A dog?!!” she spat out at the hapless woman standing before her.
The helper was nonplussed at this unexpected turn of events. She had all along thought that the four-legged creature that she had seen running around, which was even now looking at her with huge liquid eyes and wagging his tail, thump-thump-thump-thump, was a dog. Had she been mistaken? Was it some other animal? What did she, an ignoramus, know about the many creatures of the world?!
“This is Juno. Juno is like my own baby.” the Memsahib said sternly, interrupting her thoughts. “How DARE you refer to Juno as dog?! Always call him Juno. Understood?!” she said, by now getting back to resembling an apple that had been saved in the nick of time from a really bad stroke.
I don’t know what happened next, I mean I don’t know whether she, the helper, repeated her grievance with ‘Juno’ in place of ‘dog’ or whether the Memsahib got her a new pair of slipper or not. What I do know is what happened the next day. And it is this:
The helper walks towards her work place as usual, sees the dog, oops I mean Juno, relaxing next-door at the feet of his owners, all three taking it easy on a weekend morning on the verandah in front of their house. She does not look at either the Officer or his MemSahib, but instead addresses Juno,
“Namaste Juno! Kaise ho aap, Juno? Sab theek thaak hai, Juno?” (Namaste, Juno. How are you, Juno? Everything okay, Juno?)
Thump-thump-thump-thump says Juno in reply.
Then nonchalantly, ignoring Juno’s human masters, she walks to the door of the house where she works, removes her new slippers and walks in. Their faces must have been worth watching. But having nothing to go on, I will leave it to your imagination.
This story amused me and also threw light on something else, the quick apologies that would follow from some of the people, after they had asked me, ‘How is your dog?’ and the rephrased version of the question that would be asked instead, ‘How is Luci?’ I must say I used to find it hilarious that people assumed I’d burst a vein for calling my dog, a dog. But after hearing this story, I realize what lay behind those quick apologies. But you know what, I know Luci is not… say an eagle, a platypus, an elephant, a book, a chair, a tree, a flower, a cat or even a keyboard. She IS a dog.
So how about you? Does it offend you if your dog were to be referred to as dog?
©Shail Mohan 2014
Some C-posts from the A to Z Challenge worth a dekko