Lali was born to a homeless mother on a fateful monsoon night in a small residential colony in Panchasayar, Garia, Kolkata.
That night when she realized it was time, she, Lali’s mother silently crawled under the gate of that big mansion, she pulled herself through the green lawn in search of a secure place and finally rested under the big corner window sill. The storm thundered and lightening shined on somewhere in the background as if it was just another rainy night, not knowing that a strange fate was going to befall upon Lali, the yet to be born.
She gave birth to 5 of them.
The gardener’s daughter was all of 6 years and 6 times more naughty than kids of her age. Next morning, the sun was happy and shiny, it was the perfect day for the playful kid. As always, she chased the hens and ducks at the nearby fields, she caught the multicolored dragonfly with bare hands tied their wings with a golden string and made helicopter and airplanes of them. Then she spotted the tiny puppies under the window sill. We don’t know where their mother was.
Some kids like to play with puppies but not this kid. Because she always heard her folks saying things like, “stray dogs are real annoyance. Just the other day this little baby was mauled by a herd of stray dogs. We should just keep the town free from so many stray dogs. Dogs are a danger to small kids.”
The kid was worried if her parents found out about the puppies they will be too hard on them, may be they will send them to that scary house she heard of. So she thought of doing something less harsh. She picked up the 5 puppies one by one and dropped them outside the mansion wall, into another vacant plot covered all around by four walls – and as fate would have it – no gates.
“Stay here you puppies, don’t come to our garden ever again.” She said and went about doing her playful things.
When the mother dog came back to the garden to feed her puppies she couldn’t find them. She ran all around the vacant plot barking and sniffing realizing her puppies were there but the walls were too high for her to jump over. For the next few days she kept howling sadly and finally she gave up and left the town.
Meanwhile, the puppies had no one to feed them milk and they were too young to eat anything on their own. They didn’t even know what is food and what is hunger. All of them but one succumbed to death. The last one somehow managed to gather some attention by howling and wailing through the night. One kind woman from the house behind the bush realized the puppy was hungry. She gave the puppy some bread and cheese and fondly called her Lali.
It was peculiar she thought that the puppy was all alone within the four walls without a human touch, she wanted Lali to come out, but then the walls were too high for her to climb and reach Lali. Besides, in the world outside without his mother to protect him, Lali’s life would be in greater danger.
Thus Lali had to stay within the walls. Everyday the old lady would go out on her balcony and throw some bread and cheese, sometimes meat, but never some milk. It was hard to send any liquid food on the other side of the wall. The kind woman ensured Lali wouldn’t die of hunger. About the rains, cold, heat, snakes and other dangers, Lali had to be on his own.
A whole year has passed by, Lali has grown up to be a big and strong dog, big enough to jump over the walls and yet, even today, Lali lives within those four walls. Some 3500 to 4000 sq ft of land covered with thick green grass and kash phul, clear blue sky above the head, kachu gach giving him shelter from rain and scorching sun – this is Lali’s world – all of this all by himself. All day he plays with the butterflies and dragonflies and the grasshopper. The frogs and toads are his best friends, but he doesn’t know another dog or human. He looks over the walls and watches the world passing by. He watches how outside the wall human and dogs co-exist. There, a kid is playing with a cute dog on its way to school, on the other side of the road another kid just threw a stone at a dirty mongrel, at yet another corner a bunch of mongrels are fighting.
Lali observes these but he never feels like jumping over the walls and being a part of them.
The old lady had died. Now other people of the neighborhood make sure Lali has two square meals. Lali has a comfortable life.
Would Lali ever breakthrough?