Dog Day Mornings..

I am fast asleep when something bumps on my face. The dog is awake. He leans on me. He puts his entire weight in his spine flung across my shoulders, and tumbles down as he scratches himself with great abandon. I push him but he settles down, half on me and half on my quilt, and continues scratching himself.

It is 5 am and I pull my quilt over my head without opening my eyes. Because if he sees them open, he will paw my face gently to tell me that it is late in the morning and I should wake up. And open the curtains. And let the light in. And go out for walk. For there has been an entire night of smells that he has missed out on.

I fling my arms across the husband to form a barrier of some sort, so that the dog can’t walk into his face to lick it and try to wake him up as well. One person woken up at this ungodly hour is enough. I peer at the dog who is lovingly pawing husband’s quilt and trying to play with it.

He continues scratching himself and turns up on his belly. I know he is playfully cycling in air and slowly turning his paws on me now. I have to be firm if I don’t want a full blast of playtime. I pull him closer, feel his strong little body snuggle next to mine and then I pat and scratch his ears into delirium till he settles down to a forced sleep. He even starts snoring, his rhythm slowly matching that of husband’s more loud snores. Great. Now there is no way I can go to sleep. I squeeze my eyes hard and try to count numbers so that I can snatch at that delicious early morning sleep, a luxury denied to me ever since the dog stepped in.

I doze off for a few minutes and wake up again to bright eastern light streaming in the room. The dog has managed to open the curtains. He does that by walking on the ledge with his forehead meticulously pushing the curtains to the sides. He then jumps up and sits next to my face.

I peer from half-shut lids at his face above mine. His velvety mouth flaps quiver in anticipation and he gently whimpers. He knows from my breathing that I am 100% awake. No point in pretending. It is 6 am.

He unleashes his scratchy tongue and cleans the entirety of my ears in one long strong lick. He nuzzles his silken face in my neck and burrows himself till I am forced to let go of the quilt and any comfortable position. Let us go now, I have waited enough. He says, quite forcefully. I try to pull him in the quilt but he puts all the resistance a 15 kg animal can. He pretty much is sitting on my neck now, his tail thumping loudly on the bed.

My eyes feel like lead. The dog has no empathy. He continues to lick and paw and snuggle till my eyes open fully. It is as if they have made a huge noise while opening. Because the dog has now jumped on my face and is now wagging his tail till the entire bed shakes and licking my neck and performing a complex dance move of throwing his entire body in every available space.

I sit up. He climbs in my lap and turns up on his belly and paws my arms and bumps his rather large bony skull on my chin as he slurps at my face all at the same time.

I stumble out of the bed, trying to ignore the dog next to the pot as I pee. The tail has increased its wagging to impossible speed. His eyes are glittering like large black stones. The entire body is shaking in anticipation as if he is going to Mount Everest.

Simple acts like pulling up pants (as he tugs on their legs playfully), putting on a bra, picking up the keys and the poop bag, putting them in pockets elicit profound responses till it is one big whirl of brown hair, long ears, swish of tail and something that looks like legs.

Putting on leash unleashes happy growls and attempts to catch hold of it and jumping and going round the circles at the same time. It is the first walk of his six daily walks, but it feels like the dog hasn’t been let out for over a year going by the exuberance.

Opening the door, walking up to the lift and finally getting out of the building is no effort, being dragged by one enthusiastic morning dog. My eyes have opened by now and I am slowly waking up. The dog is crawling below the cars and walking at the same time, lest any smell escapes him. His long ears sweep the floor and his leg rises again and again as he pees two drops each on every car tyre and lamppost and tree and sidewalk corner. He walks with his nose on the ground and ass high in the air, tail wagging at the delicious smells. He sometimes bumps his head on the car because his eyes are constantly on the ground or looking for his friends. He spots one after another, they greet him and there is the good morning ritual of sniffing each others crotch and asshole with elaborate mannerisms. An occasional threatening bark is uttered if he spots outsider dogs who carefully show their subservience to this obvious galli ka kutta bhi sher.

Potty done, picked up and deposited in the bin. The dog kicks up a storm of dust and debris on the poop-spot with his hind legs. This is definitely a very macho thing to do, going by the expression on his face. The walk back now is revisiting the fragrances, more patiently this time. He takes his time separating several subtle tones in the bouquet of streaks of canine urine. When he licks it, I try not to think of him licking my face just a few minutes ago. He struts on the roads with confidence of a Great Dane. He refuses to believe that he is an English Cocker Spaniel, he will settle for nothing but at least a St. Bernard. School kids walking to their torture pet him, which he tolerates patiently. He greets some of his acquaintances with profuse jumping and licking. When they praise him, he looks extremely modest and sits like an ideal dog who wouldn’t dream of barking at large dogs and licking sidewalks.

The long walk completed, he now wants to go back in RIGHT NOW. He is impatient in the lift and rushes inside the flat and as soon as the leash is removed, he drinks enough water to give the famished kidneys some sustenance. He greets husband by profuse licking and belly turning and furious scratching. In five minutes, he crawls below the diwan and is fast asleep.

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My heart bursts out with love when…

My Puppy jaan sleeping...

My Puppy jaan sleeping…

When I see people sleep…

It really does. This is not to say that it doesn’t otherwise. But there is something animalistically innocent about people when they are asleep.

Some look like they are dreaming the most beautiful dreams. Some look as if they have escaped the world full of stress in a passage of sleep. Some look tense and I hope when I see them that they are not too unhappy. The best part about long distance travel is that I can watch people sleep. Not in a kinky way, but just peek into their faces and imagine who they are.

I wonder what is it that they are dreaming of. Are they in a world which is as real to them as this world? Do we really go somewhere when we sleep?

I like to think so.

In Mumbai you can’t help but watch people perform the most intimate domestic things on street. It is amazing how people manage to sleep on the road divider. With small babies and all. I find the whole romanticized and positive-thinking angle to poverty a la Slumdog disgusting, but watching a mother asleep with her baby on a divider as vehicles rush around them twists my tummy in a knot.

Animals asleep is poetry. The gracefully folded legs of a cow, bird sleeping with beak burrowed in fat neck. Once I saw a donkey yawn and sleep with his legs up in the air. Cats have of course done post doctorate in art of sleeping. They sleep as if the whole world is a bedroom, it’s purpose simply being available for the brief period when her highness wakes up.

My puppyjaan is the love of my life. My heart bursts out with love for him several times a day, but when he is asleep, he looks… words can’t describe what he looks like. He sometimes sleeps on his back with his legs up in the air, sometimes his neck buried deep in stomach with legs folded, sometimes on his side, sometimes his beautiful face on his stretched paws. Whenever he can, he pushes his body next to us with all his weight and slides down to sleep with his entire body touching us.

Puppyjaan loves to sleep next to Patijaan the most. They share a large pillow . And no matter how many times it is washed, it has infused a special smell of man drool, dog drool and sweat. It is a smell of family for me.

Patijaan looks totally vulnerable when he is asleep.I like to lie down next to him and watch him at length as he sleeps. It helps that I am an insomniac while he can sleep standing in a BEST bus. But something on the left side of my ribcage contracts with protective love when he sleeps. Dead to the world with his mouth open, face flung out on the pillow in complete abandon, arms spread over the bed in surrender to the calm, his usually stoic face that is called Budhdhist by friends looking more like a small kitten snuggling to his siblings in sweet rest.

I even do not notice his snoring at such times. Which has been the root cause of 85% of our tiffs otherwise.

My mother lives to sleep. She is firm advocate of siesta and I think her choice of profession had more to do with the fact that it allowed her to sleep in the noon. She sleeps on her back with one arm folded over her eyes. Her lips slightly parted, sheets folded about her ankles. She sleeps that deep sleep which makes people look slightly dead and other worldly.She lays there without moving a muscle , like a rock. She is an animated bohemian in real life but sleeps stiff like a soldier. Weird!!

Father sleeps on his side, arms folded in a pillow under his neck, legs folded bent. An insomniac and a superlight sleeper, he gets very irritated when his precious little sleep is disturbed. He likes to read till very late and is fidgety in his sleep. He has to wake up at least four to five times during the night;y ostensibly to drink water, pee, see what that small sound was, sit in the balcony, take dog out for walk. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind where do my weird sleeping habits come from.

My brother sleeps at dawn and wakes up at noon. He has developed an editor’s capacity to sleep anywhere. He is also one person who can wake up, have a nice discussion about the latest Christopher Nolan movie and go back to sleep the next minute. He is the only person who can stay awake for hours after he is fully drunk! We both share a disinterest and a ‘need- to- sleep -since- it -is- necessary – for – the – body’ attitude towards sleeping.

And me? I am a bad sleeper. Period. I don’t think anyone would feel any emotion for me when they see me asleep, since I am awake most of the time!! I sleep with earplugs stuck deep, a thick eyepatch, eyes ready to open at smallest bit of light or sound, a drinking problem of one glass of water per hour. If they came out with a pill so that you don’t have to sleep, I am game!!!

Maybe that is why I like to watch people sleep? Maybe I am a bit kinky after all??