We have a lovely dark brown Labrador bitch. Just about a year old, it is well behaved, affectionate and responsible. Like all Labradors, it finds it difficult to stand the heat of Delhi. So, during summer, it sleeps in the upper floor bedroom of my son prem and daughter-in-law Rita just below their air-conditioner.
As morning comes, the newspaper boy throws up our papers, duly rolled and held securely with the aid of rubber band, in the gallery which we share with an illustrious neighbour. Hence our bundle is bulkier than his. Anyone with eyes open can detect that without wasting any time.
The moment our bundle hits our door, brandy rushes out, picks it up and takes it straight to Rita and Prem’s bedroom. Brandy knows what bundle is for what flat. It makes no mistake in picking the one intended for us.
Call it curiosity, senility or whatever else, lately it has invaded our neighbor. Sometimes he steals a march over Brandy, picks up our bundle, open it, runs through the headlines in the papers to which he himself does not subscribe, rolls all of them back in position, though clumsily, and drops them quietly at our door.
Sometimes when Brandy takes longer to come down or when he finds something gripping in the paper which he himself does not get, he takes the whole lot inside his house.
When Brandy comes out and find our bundle missing, it sniffs around to detect where it has gone. And then it rushes back to see if Susma, our cook, has not already taken it there.
No, that is not the case. Brandy comes back, sniffs around again, knocks at the neighbour’s door with its front paws and out comes the bundle in a huddle through the window. Brandy stares at the gentleman’s flat angrily, up our bundle and takes it straight to the bedroom.
Diamonds may be for ever, but not wrong things. The Lord won’t allow that. One fine morning, our call-bell, fixed at the door-frame but connected to the kitchen, started ringing non-stop. It sounded like a siren announcing another Indo-Pakistan war. Thinking that Susma was perhaps in the bathroom, my son came down, opened the door and found our neighbour standing there with a mighty grievance on his lips. “What is it, Uncle? the boy, a doctor, asked him, thinking perhaps that an acute pain had suddenly gripped the man’s head or stomach. “It looks,” said he, “that your dog has taken away my paper as well. “The boy explained to him that to best of his knowledge, Brandy was not prone to do that kind of thing. As a rule, it picked up its own papers only and brought them straight to him.
Brandy was summoned. Whenever it does some mischief, it hides itself under dining table. It came out, looked at the man, measured him from head to foot, went up brought his solitary paper from wherever it had kept it and threw it at him with utmost contempt. The gentleman said nothing to it. What could be say?
Months have elapsed since that episode. Our paper no longer disappear from where the newspaper boy throws them ip.