‘Hila rastya varun anyway?’, roughly translating to have I picked her up from the streets.
When I brought Zoey to my hometown, I knew that my keen neighbors would have a plethora of old questions to ask. I live in an old society where a community is living together for decades now. I have been here since a baby.
I left at the age of 21. And for the past seven years, nothing has changed.
I reached home late in the night, and Zoey was scared of her new surroundings. Many aunts had come out to welcome the prodigal daughter who had brought a surprise guest home. That night Zoey slept next to me and was confused about how her mother moved to a small apartment from a huge ass bungalow.
The next morning she ran downstairs when the main door was left open accidentally. I ran behind her, scared of the street dogs hurting her. I caught her after running for what felt like an hour.
I had carried my baby in my arms like I usually do. This chaos had gotten a few people to come out in their balconies and windows to see what’s happening. It is then when an aunt that has annoyed me since I first moved to this society, let’s call her ‘Annoying Aunt’ to avoid any defamation cases, said:
‘Hai kay Navin trend tumchi, kutra anaichi?’ Meaning ‘What is this new trend of petting a dog?” she asked me in a very typical ‘Puneri Marathi’ irritating tone.
‘She is my pet,’ I managed to smile and answer because she is a friend of mom’s.
‘Kuthlya jaticha aahe ka rastyavarun uchalay?’ meaning ‘What breed is she or is she picked up from the streets?’, to which I politely replied I adopted her.
‘Kay tar changlya jaatichi anaichi hoti, gauthi ahe hi. (You could have adopted a better breed). You, youngsters, are following all weird trends,’ now I had lost it because this annoying aunt just degraded my baby.
‘Female dog?’, she asked again. I nodded and turned around to go home before I lose my calm.
Yet, she went on.
‘Why would you get a female dog? Now at least don’t mate her with the stray. Find a higher breed,’ she screamed as I walked home. I did not retaliate that day. That happened the next day—a story for another blog.
Zoey slept as soon as we went home. She was tired of all the running. I watched her deep in slumber, looking cute as ever.
‘How can her breed or gender make her any less adorable?’ I wondered. Then I realized it’s the same humans who discriminate against fellow humans basis on caste, color, race, and status.
Why was it a massive surprise if they did the same with dogs too?
Since childhood, we are brainwashed by our prior generations. They have taught us how fair is beautiful, money is class, gender is strength, religion is life, caste is power, and the race is superior.
‘It is because you have traveled around that you know that none of it matters,’ Sal and I were discussing this over a call. She was in Spain. Talking about such topics and controversial theories was her quarantine as she was stuck in her flat with weed, internet, and cats.
‘What about people who won’t ever think outside of their comfort zone?’ I was curious about how one can ever be genuinely ignorant of such unnecessary biases in life.
‘Never,’ she said, dragging her last puff of joint. I missed talking to her while she was high because that is when we had deep conversations about everything from love to aliens. This was also one of those days, but I was sober as fuck.
‘Shouldn’t we do something?’, I asked her.
‘Karo. Kuch Shuru Karo,’ and we were lost in our own thoughts for a while after.