Note: Back in 2008, the incredible Jeff VanderMeer invited me to guest-post on his blog. Recently I had occasion to re-read this post, and I decided to post it here on Antariksh Yatra, minimally edited. Unfortunately the post isn’t complete without the discussions in the comments, so here’s the original link.
When I was around ten years old my family moved from New Delhi to the town of Patna, in Bihar, for two years. Patna was a small, untidy, sprawling little town (relative to Delhi) and the area where we lived consisted of large, old-fashioned houses set among enormous gardens. We stayed with my grandparents, and a little way from their house you could see fields. Sometimes my brother and I would wake very early and go on a trek through the fields, pausing to watch a farmer and his bullock drawing water from a well, or looking at pond life in a ditch filled with rainwater. In the evenings there would be kids playing cricket in the big maidan in front of the house, and my brother and I would be there too (it was in those days that I developed my now-lost skill as a fairly fearsome spin bowler). Some of the pariah dogs that lived in packs in our neighbourhood would join in, especially if we were playing football (soccer). Pariah dogs are descended from the earliest domesticated dogs — they are a tribe unto themselves, and live parallel lives with humans in towns and cities in India. They are also beautiful, intelligent animals — you can see some really nice pictures here.
One of these pariah dogs was a brown and white dog of noble bearing whom we called Moti (the word sounds like “more-thee” without the ‘r’, and means “pearl”). As he was a regular on the football field, we became friends. He would come over to our house if he wanted a meal. Sometimes he would walk me home if I was late returning from a friend’s house. There was a boy who lived next door who was friendly with Moti too, but he wanted Moti as a house-dog. So he trapped the dog for three days in his house, spoiling him, feeding him delicacies and playing with him. But at the first opportunity, Moti escaped.