She came to us, to become a part of our family when she was just a week old. Abandoned on the streets of Rottikadai, I took it upon myself to raise her to be a courageous, brave dog. As foster parents, my wife and I decided we’d take utmost care of her and raise her as our own. Today she’s my Daddy Pulla (Daddy’s Girl) and the past four years have been extraordinarily pleasant with her around. My name is Mani and I work as an electrician in these remote estates of Valparai.
My life as an electrician, at least during the working hours is dull and monotonous. I wake up as early as 4 o’ clock in the morning, battling harsh winds and biting cold weather. In these remote jungles of Valparai, access to find and fix default electric lines is sometimes difficult. The routine at work is mostly boring, for I have a customary bag of tools that I carry with me, walking inside dense forests, and tea bushes whistling an imaginary tune, turning and twisting cables that supply electricity unhindered.
But after long hours of bumpy bike ride along the rough estate roads, mostly on my own with no one to converse with, I walk on to the pathway to my house to find my Laali, running towards me, hopping up and down, to walk me to the house. She greets me with such excitement and licks my face all over, making me feel like I’m home again.
It’s in these pleasant evening hours when I return from work, I train her. Laali is an intelligent and an obedient dog. I never had to use a cane to hit or spank her but only reward her with biscuits she loves the most, from a bakery in the town nearby. Just like my children, she’s got her own fondness for travelling on my bike, sitting pillion, making no effort not to jump off during the ride. Despite the bulging, imperfect seat, she sits tight atop the petrol tank, holding onto to me as she always has, since I rescued her as an abandoned pup.
My daughter feels like a celebrity when her school friends flock to our house to see Laali, after hearing exciting stories about the acrobatics and tricks that she performs. Laali is also brave and aggressive when required. In the past, we have seen her chase away leopards that lurk around the estate, looking to hunt domestic dogs that make easier prey for the hungry carnivore. She also watches keenly for elephants and gaurs that sometimes pass by the area, after it gets dark. The ever-watchful presence of Laali makes us all feel safe and sleep in peace at night. Every time I leave the house for work, there’s always a gnawing thought about the safety of my kinsfolk. But the past three years I have been relieved of that apprehension.
Weekends are my favorite. I eagerly await them so I can take Laali for a bath to the stream nearby. My wife and daughters join me at times. While our neighbors sit inside their house, watching TV most of the time, Laali has us spend time together as a family, very much altering our lifestyle. I cherish and enjoy the change she has brought into our lives.
I have become a much happier man and that has helped my family lead a healthy life. It’s amazing how she has filled up our souls so easily that sometimes we as humans find hard it hard to do on our own. Living in these remote estates of Valparai is not perilous or upsetting anymore, for with Laali around, life’s complete.