ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)

- Memoir - Goat Hunting -

[An Excerpt from Sri. K.P. Poorna Chandra Tejaswi's Book 'Annana Nenapu']

The delight we got when two pups arrived at our home from Shivamogga, making our long felt dreams real, was unbounded. Many of our school friends, who were unfortunate to have no pups in their home to bring up, came with us to our house every evening watched and appreciated them and went home. All our games, which we used to play on the street in front of our houses, stopped temporarily as we began to play with the pups no sooner we returned home from the school. We just knew only one way of showing our love to them, that was feeding them continuously and we spent on them much of the eatables we got. Their belly always looked like pot. If someone lifted them, they even found it hard to breath and writhed.

"Don't get into mischief with their tails" our father had strictly warned Chaitra and me. We did not find any need to convert those pups into a good breed dogs, as they were white and pretty. Father's admonition was always there reverberating and hence we did not think about docking the pups. When they were young, they were pretty and everybody who saw them caressed them. Therefore, they did not develop the sense of differentiating who is from their home, who is a stranger, who is a thief, and who is a good person. They ran to whoever came near the house wagging their tails to lick their feet. We became angry when beggars, streetwalkers, and sundry people walked into the house without minding the presence of dogs. We then decided to stop petting them and instead began to train them to behave doglike. We made them stand on the gate and pestered them to bark at all cattle, country dogs, wayfarers by choo-chooing. But how could the pups know that they should bark when they hear our choo-chooing? Neither they knew our language nor did we, theirs.

Every now and then, a cobbler visited our home. His name was John. Everyone called him 'Janappa'. He boasted of himself with us of having served in military and participated in the World War. He showed several scars on his body as scars of gun shot wounds. Once he had come to our home to repair slippers. He saw the pups and called them, "kamandaa, kamandaa," sit down, sit down." We did not know, then, correctly what English was, and what Hindi was. We called Hindi as language of sabis (Muslims). When Janappa called the dogs "kamandaa, kamandaa," we thought Janappa knew the language of dogs and pleaded with him to teach dog language to us. Janappa did not like us call the few words he had learnt by heart with great difficulty as dog language. He told us that it was not the dog language but the language European lords speak and he spoke to the dogs in that language, as the good breed dogs do not understand Kannada. He taught us the English terminology of how to ask the dogs to sit, what should we say to make them stand, and what to make them go away. We learnt them by heart without considering them as words and that they have meanings and we called the dogs "kamandaa, kamandaa."

Anna was surprised to hear those peculiar commands we were giving the dogs. He asked us once what it meant. We told him that it was the dog language Janappa taught us and that the good breed dogs do not understand Kannada. Anna could not get in to the word kamandaa, he was unable to guess from which particular word this kamandaa was derived. But the finely ingrained condemnation towards Kannada behind the thinking that Kannada is for native dogs and English for the good breed dogs must have pained him. He praised the greatness and the long history of the Kannada language and asked us to "tell Janappa if he comes again that 'when the poet called Pampa was writing epics in Kannada your English lords were wandering the forests living like tribal people covering their trunks with barks of the trees."' Perhaps that was the first time I witnessed the anger in Anna about the Kannada people who lacked love and admiration for their language.

We did not tell Janappa what Anna told us. Then our pups; they did not appear to have any kind of fondness for either Kannada or English. They ignored whatever we said and they paid attention only to see if we had anything in our hands for them.

A circus company came to Mysore and erected its tent. In our classroom, there were talks that it was a renowned company called G.A. Circus. The roaring of lions and sounds of elephants reached our house too in the morning hours. Apart from that to announce the arrival of the circus company, they took procession of Elephants, horses and camels around the mohallas. Anna took us to circus rather unable to bear the trouble we gave him. We three, I, Chaitra and Kala, went to the circus. Tarini was too young and so we did not take her with us.

What drew our attention primarily was the acrobatics they made the dogs perform. The dogs performed many things; long jump, high jump, walking on two legs so on. We thought we could at least teach acrobatics to our dogs and commenced our exercise from the very next day. We taught them to jump the compound wall to teach them high jump. One of us dragged the dog out with the lasso tied to its neck and the rest of us encouraged the dog to jump.

With our unceasing efforts, the dogs learnt to jump the wall. But we got the clapper claws from Anna for that effort because no sooner they were let they jumped the wall and went away to wander like vagabonds. How can the dogs reared to guard the house scout if they do not remain in the house? After a very long reflection over the issue, Anna got an idea. Before they were let free at nights he tied a piece of wood to their neck just like the piece of wood tied to the neck of mischievous cattle. The dogs could not jump the wall with the stub. It certainly stopped them from jumping out. But our guests were frightened by the sound they made while they circled the house dragging the stub throughout the night. They even went upstairs and circled there dragging the stub with them. While the dogs came down, the stubs hit the stairs and made deafening daba daba sounds. Owed to this the edges of stairs were damaged. But it stopped the menace of thieves who stole taps, bulbs, and such other items from our backyard.

When we grew up a little, we learnt to make our catapults. Prafulla Chandra who was at Shivamogga was our guru for all these arts. Prafulla is my mother's brother. My mother used to go to Shivamogga to her parents during summer vacations taking us with her. There Prafulla was training us in hunting skills. He was elder to us. He made catapults for each one of us. While coming back to Mysore we prayed, cajoled him for rubber tubes and at home we made our own catapults. We took our dog to the fields around our home, chased and hunted garden lizards and rats and quenched our thirst for hunting.

Once we were caught in a very big hazard because of those dogs. That was a day of some festival. It normally got late for lunch on festival days. Chaitra and I put the catapult into our pockets and set out for the fields. As Kala and Tarini pleaded to accompany us, we took them also with us. They did come with us usually as there were custard apple plants in the fields. They came looking for the fruits in those plants.

We wandered through the field right up to Gokula and we were returning by road. A goatherd came from our opposite side. We were so unworried about our dogs because they were both so docile and non-violent that we did not bother to watch them or the goatherd. In fact, the dogs had never in the past paid heed to our provocation; they had all along stayed back putting their tails between their thighs. But there was a sudden change in the behaviour of our dogs. They stared at the goats. Their hair stood straight. And they then ran towards goats like hunting wolves. Goats ran hither and thither crying myaa..myaa.. The dogs ran chasing the goats and we, four of us children, ran behind the dogs shouting cautions to them. Until then I did not have a slightest clue that our dogs hid such a murderous attitude in them.

By the time it ran a small distance, a tired goat fell to one of the dogs. The dog had caught the goat by its drooping ear and the goat was unable to run fast. Instantaneously another dog too fell on the goat and caught its neck. Now the goat was not able to drag the weight of two dogs and it fell into a gorge by the side of the road. We were so afraid we began to shiver. Our eyes became moist at the thought of policemen putting us into a jail. We got into the gorge and tried to rescue the goat from the dogs. But their mouths held the goat too tightly as if they are locked. We were so perplexed; we did not know what to do. We began to cry loudly. We made Tarini and Kala to run home and get Anna telling him that the dogs were killing the goat. Hearing our screams two elderly people came out. One among them asked us from a distance why we were crying. I replied him, still crying, that the dogs have caught the goat. From the way we were crying, they thought that the dogs have caught our own goat and they opened their gates and hurried towards us. They also tried to get the goat rid of the dogs. Even they were unable to open the dogs' mouth to free the goat. At last, they took a brick and banged it on the nose of the dogs. It was only then that the dogs loosened their hold on the goat. No sooner it was released from the mouth of the dogs, the goat ran away crying pathetically. They scared away the dogs that once again tried to attack the goat.

One of them asked, "Is that goat yours?"

"No" we both replied him.

"Then why are you crying?" he asked us with surprise.

"The dogs are ours," we said.

Once the goat was out of dogs' mouth, we ran towards our home through passageways. As we reached home before Kala and Tarini did, they did not have the need to get Anna to the spot. But if they were not available to us as witnesses, it was certain that we awaited lashes on the surmise that we had let the dog on the goatherd. After that incident, Anna cautioned us not to roam on the streets taking the dogs with us.

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