The Beagle had just arrived, 21 days. Puja’s friend Priya named him Snoopy who became very popular in the neighborhood soon after he came. Priya has a lab, about a year old. His name is Simba. As days went by, both of them became very good friends, almost like Puja and Priya; but Simba would maintain his seniority and demanded respect from Snoopy all the time. Snoopy was always respectful, well not always, especially when they were given those yummy rawhide dental chew sticks. Snoopy would always catch them faster than Simba, the old boy would play the role of an indulgent big brother…didn’t mind sparing him one or two, after all Snoopy was the little brother. Hunters by instinct, you had to watch them play Frisbee in the park; everyone would in absolute wonder. When they ran chasing for the Frisbee, it felt as if they were gliding away. There was only fun in the game, they wouldn’t even know the name Frisbee, and there was no winning or losing, no rules, just playing and running around.Yes it was addictive too. The other day, an old man threw his stick and started running with them forgetting his pains…everyone laughed as the old man fell on the ground laughing helplessly, then stood up again and went running after Snoopy and Simba. Everyone was in splits. When the children in the park would say, ‘you have such nice dogs’ Priya would tell them, ‘please call them Snoopy and Simba, like you don’t call us girls, you call us Puja and Priya, don’t you?’ Children are fast learners, for soon the Beagle and the Labrador were known as Snoopy and Simba. Some elders would also call Simba as Veeru and Snoopy as Jai; the two fast friends from the famous film Sholay (Embers). They conquered everyone’s heart with their looks and their wagging tails, but many were also fascinated with their ‘woof, woof’, all through the evening they would run around saying ‘woof, woof’. Like this, Simba and Snoopy aka Veeru and Jai became die-hard friends.
Puja and Priya are not friends anymore. Priya stopped talking to Puja not because she has a newborn brother now; she stopped talking to her two months ago when Puja’s family was preparing for the baby’s arrival. On a fateful day, Puja, out of nowhere, bluntly said to her, ‘the dog died’.
Simba still looks for his friend when he passes by Puja’s home. He still sniffs, looks at the sky and then says, ‘woof, woof’…as if wanting to say… how could you go like this Jai without even tossing head or tail. In the film you at least fooled me tossing… remember? This is not fair. Woof! Woof!
Sholay (Embers) is the most popular Bollywood film the industry has ever known. Ever since its release in 1975, the two protagonists Veeru and Jai in the film have become iconic friends. In real life, best friends in India are given the status of Veeru and Jai when their friendship matches the standard of these heroes of the film. Without going into the main plot, let me explain the touching story behind tossing of a coin. Jai has a coin that he would toss every time the friends would choose between a yes and a no. Jai would tell Veeru if it was head, Veeru would win and he would lose. The last scene unfolds when Jai was seriously wounded and Veeru wouldn’t leave him but surrender to the Police who were searching for them. Jai, as usual, tossed the coin and told Veeru he had to leave if it was a head, could stay with him only if it was tail. Veeru didn’t leave. During the funeral Veeru discovered that the coin Jai tossed had heads on both sides, his friend Jai had always given him the better option all through his life.
The flash fiction, ‘Woof! Woof!’ tries to present a grim picture of dog owners being dog killers in a discrete way. I don’t know about other countries but sadly, it is very common in India. The flash, most humbly urges its readers to think many times before bringing a pet into the family, once brought pets become family members whom you cannot desert or clear for any justifiable reason.