Eight years ago, when I stepped outside my home, I had decided I would never come back before I achieved something substantial. Just a year ago, I thought I had it all – a loving boyfriend, a dream project coming true, and a set of beautiful souls I could call my friends in the big, dark and lonely city.
It was then.
Even if the world around me thinks that I am back in the comfort of my small hometown, the truth is far from what it seems like.
I am broke.
My boyfriend ditched me, found a younger, dumber, and TikTok (now TakaTak) version of me; I lost my job, and I still have nowhere to go. On March 18, 2020, when nobody knew that the world would come to a standstill in the coming months, I left the city packing all my things, never to return and the pandemic made damn sure of that. The only constant I had was my pup, Zoey.
It had been quite some time since the lockdown began. The world was a mess, and chaos was a common state. Luckily, Zoey had become quite the favorite at home. She was the cutest and naughtiest pup in the vicinity. Her golden pupils and fish-shaped eyes had caused quite a stir even in the hometown. Though everyone was advised social distancing, taking a dog on a walk was quite acceptable by the cops, who were otherwise too annoyed at dimwits and finally ended up thrashing everyone they saw roaming on the streets.
During this time, I met an old acquaintance walking her dog, a year-old Beagle named Bunty. He was a cute white and brown dog wearing a bright blue t-shirt. Zoey, who had always loved playing with Beagles in the fancy city, instantly attracted this one. My golden ball of fur rushed towards him but the Beagle being male dominant, started barking. Zoey was scared; she stopped wagging her tail and ran behind her mum.
‘He won’t bite, get her closer,’ she said. I was a bit hesitant because I wasn’t sure Zoey would get along with new dogs in the town where her mother seldom gets along with new people. To my surprise, my little girl quietly sat and let the shorter yet more confident male pup sniff her butt. Gross, but that is how dogs get acquainted with each other. I guess dogs don’t shy away from their attraction towards the ‘Butt.’
This was their first meet where they spent a little more than five minutes sniffing every part of each other’s bodies. Probably the beginning of something in my pup’s life.
‘He plays in our veranda in the evenings; you should get her some time,’ Zoey just got invited for a playdate. I was as excited as any mum would be. If not me, at least my pup will have a good dating life, I thought.
The next evening, I sprayed her Tea Tree flavored dry shampoo and brushed her thick golden-brown coat. I put on her new collar and got her ready for her first-ever playdate in the small town. I met her and Bunty right on the road outside her house, and Zoey’s tail was wagging with all its force. She slept on the dirty muddy highway as soon as Bunty reciprocated.
‘Bad Girl Zoey, I just brushed your hair,’ I screamed at the rather excited to be on a date Zoey and pulled her inside the house gates. For about 20 minutes, all we could see was Zoey jumping over Bunty, kissing (maybe) him, and running behind him.
It looked cute, but the Beagle was playing it smart. He let Zoey do everything she wanted to make her believe that she was playing with him. She also followed him to the water faucet and waited there to drink after he finished. After playing at the faucet for a while, the Beagle’s mum got a ball to play fetch. She threw the ball, but Zoey did not run to bring it. Bunty ran with all his might to get the ball while Zoey ran behind Bunty. He got the ball and won every time. Zoey was too excited to have Bunty as her playmate to even look at the ball.
‘You should play fetch with her, or else she will never learn,’ today I realized what human baby mums go through when their kid is looked down upon for not knowing something as simple as alphabets. At home, Zoey is a pro at fetching things. In fact, it was her Pratibha aunt who taught her to fetch. She was so good that once she fetched something, she ran all over the town with it. But, why the heck did she not do it today?
After some more of Zoey running behind Bunty and following him everywhere, we left for home. She was clearly tired, and I was thinking of getting her to fetch the ball and not run behind Bunty.
The same night Piyu called me because she was a little disappointed with her life. The three of us – Sal, Piyu, and I were locked up in the Co-Vid drama at three different places. While I was lucky to be home, Sal was stuck in Spain trying to finish her master’s online. Piyu was in Bhubaneshwar after serving her notice period in an NGO.
‘I don’t know what next; why will he not text me when I want to talk?’ She talked about the guy she was dating. Though stuck alone in a 2 BHK apartment in Bhubaneshwar, she did not invite the guy she liked because of the complicated relationship they had. They started off casually but they got seriously involved. She did all the things he asked her to. She gave him space when he wanted to focus on his work. She did not speak to him for days but left all her work the minute he called or asked to meet.
‘Booty calls, that was all I was for him, isn’t it?’ she asked me.
And that is when I realized it was not Zoey alone who forgot to fetch the ball because she focused too much on running behind Bunty. I wondered of all those Bunty’s in our lives who have distracted us from our ultimate goal of achieving success, earning money, setting up a kickass career, or chasing behind impossible dreams.
The Bunty’s ran to fetch that one thing they wanted badly while the Zoey’s ended up running behind them, cribbing for their attention.
‘Yes, but that’s because you ran behind his balls instead of kicking them for being such a dick.’ We laughed at the sudden use of the ‘not so respectful’ vocabulary, but it was suited best.