“I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop,” Coleridge thought, as he lay on the grass, with his head turned skywards. There was nobody to disturb him now. At any moment, the sun would flare up in full glory. And then, he could contemplate his next move for the day, as he lay basking in its warmth. There was quite some daily excitement ahead, until the yellow ball slowly drifted away. Then the humans would start filling up the kennel again.
The humans had shown up earlier in the day. The human with the flowered scent had given him his morning meal. The taller one had patted his head and accompanied him for a walk. The tiny one, Coleridge thought, needed the most help. He kept dropping the ball. EVERY SINGLE TIME. But he was around Coleridge most of the time, rolling in the grass and playing in the pool with him. So picking up the ball for him didn’t feel like much of work. After all, what are friends for?
Most mornings were like this. Then the tiny human would leave in a big moving kennel. The kennel had more tiny humans in it. They always acknowledged Coly with loud cheer. Coly would cheer back, until the kennel disappeared from sight. The bigger humans then left in a smaller kennel which moved. Coleridge thought that was strange. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?
Coleridge enjoyed his occasional trips in the moving kennel. The human would ask him to sit still, but Coly made it a point to put his head out of the window to feel the wind as the kennel moved. At times, they would stop in a park and meet more people and play. Everyone he met had something to tell him. But some small people pulled at his tail. Coly thought his humans were the best.
At times, they would go to the beach, and Coly had to fetch a plate instead of a ball for the little human. Wonder how mommy filled so much water in that pool?! On one particularly terrifying type of ride, the moving kennel would slide down a slope and stop at a smelly place. There were many people just like him out there. Some looked ill, and some had a broken leg or head. Someone strapped Coleridge to a chair and poked him with a needle now and then. Mommy always put pills in his treats after that. Sylvia and Lizzy also had a similar complaint about going to this place.
The thing about boarding the moving kennel was that he could never say how the journey would be. Some rides were fun and some rides were not. But they always ended up home after each ride.
The other humans called mommy as Martha or darling at times – just how all the humans called him different names at different times – Coleridge, Coly, Good Boy, Dumbo. The tiny human was called Samy. At times, the big human was also called darling. This meant two humans could have the same name! However, when Coly called out to Martha or Samy, they never seemed to understand who was being addressed.
Sylvia was sitting on the lawn across the fence, demure, with her fur shining in the summer sun. Coleridge and Sylvia had been pals for a long, long time now. She was his perfect partner in crime. Coleridge could not say the same about fuzzy Lizzy. Lizzy was just so proud and full of herself. She made it look like it was a privilege to have her around. And there was no trusting her. She could drink all the milk that the human gave her and still crave for more. But having Lizzy around had its advantages. She knew how to make her way through to the cupboards in the kitchen. She did something like climbing up the water pipe and reaching the balcony. Lizzy also knew how to wriggle and dance and all the humans cheered her when she did that.
One day, when Coly and his humans returned from the beach, there was this yummy smell from across the lane. Samy was very excited. He went through this kennel’s door, when the huge human held Coleridge by the leash. He then returned with a hot aromatic box and carried it home. This started happening often. Coleridge got to taste the contents of this fine looking box once in a while. The taste lingered on for so long and kept him full. Lizzy and Sylvia also loved this treat. In fact, they had all come to expect a slice of it whenever water poured from above them. This made the absence of yellow ball less depressing.
Dealing with a wet coat was no fun. It had a bad effect on the nose. Whenever it poured, the humans would lock Coly and co. inside their big kennel. Coly had to spend all day on a rug. All he could do was watch everyone walk up and down at different speeds. His favourite part of the house was this funny box in which he could see clothes spiraling round and round. It was so relaxing to watch. He also loved to laugh along with Samy as his squishy toys paraded on TV. The box also played music. At times the box also showed people like him. But they never acknowledged his presence or spoke to him. The humans would laugh and pat his head. He felt sorry for himself.
Samy and Kate, who lived with Sylvia, loved to climb over the wall and cheer the garbage truck. Coleridge and Sylvia would shout along with their humans. The wall was not there before. It only came after a very thin human and a bulky human knocked the gate a few days ago. Coleridge remembered the bulky human very well. He really smelt absurd. For the time he was around, Coleridge and Sylvia got extra lunch and pats on their head. In return, the two would follow him on his round trips between the wall and the inedible powder and rock he carried. It was a welcome change from the routine of chasing squirrels and birds about the garden.
Then suddenly one day, the two humans stopped coming. Only then did the three friends realize they could no longer get across the street. The fence post was not to be seen anywhere. In a couple of days, the three friends had lost that tiny window to the busy world outside. The gap in the fence was their secret passage. It took them to the food truck and to the street gangs. They had fallen prey to the temptation of the exotic.
It had begun on the day the humans boarded the small moving kennel and went out, leaving Coly behind. Sylvia’s humans were also away. Martha had watered Coly’s trough. Lizzy climbed over the flower pots and perched herself on the fence post as usual. Coly and Sylvia loved to see her dancing and commenting about the happenings outside. Right then, the familiar aroma spread from across the street. In one leap, Lizzy was gone. That was the problem with Lizzy. One could never predict what she would do next. Sylvia and Coly followed Lizzy’s footsteps and tried to step over the flower pots and reach the fence. Later, when the enquiries happened, they did not know who broke which flower pot or how the shells of the broken pots ended up in the swimming pool. Within moments, the fence post crashed and Sylvia and Coly found themselves on the pavement. They dashed across the road, chasing Lizzy and the aromatic smell of pizza. The motorist passing by jerked to a halt and scared the cyclist. He lost his balance and drove straight into the food truck. None of this, however, halted the threesome’s pace.
With no idea of the chaos they had created, the three stood at the door of the pizza house. Lizzy wriggled her way to the window and peeked inside. This scared the baker, who came out and found the three of them, eagerly looking at his hands. He recognized Coly by the red collar, but was surprised that there was nobody to accompany him. In a few minutes, he came back and offered them their hard earned treat. As they slowly made their way towards the meeting point of the gangsters, Samy’s big human called out to Samy from somewhere. Torn between the street mission and the loving voice calling out, Samy returned home. All this seemed so long ago now.
Samy could hardly remember how pizza tasted now. His gang would call out to him from the other side of the wall, but Lizzy had not yet found the right way to go over the wall. And therein, lay unaccomplished missions and inviting aromas, all in need of the right escape route. Until such time, all Samy and Sylvia had was vivid memories of past adventures and a view of the world as depicted by Lizzy.
“Coleridge” first published by Nithya Rajagopal in Ink Spear Inc in June 2018, on her personal blog site.