Fiction: Magic

Dev Vrat Sharma

- Dev Vrat Sharma

The dog was huge, jet black with golden brown markings on the paws and a little up and prominently on the muzzle. Although the bust came out protruding, the weak chest line clearly hinted that the dog was ill-fed. There was another one, a Retriever, but somehow the impact which Magic, as I learned the name later, made was more profound. He ran aimlessly tried to place his heavy paws on my chest playfully and ran away helter shelter only to come back the other moment all the more charged to repeat his game. I looked at my father with a positive note; he too had perhaps taken a fancy of the dog but as usual would not divulge out anything. He walked over to the present owner who was squatting close to the tattered gate with a half consumed bidi in hand. 

“How much?” I demanded.
“Twenty” tap came the answer. 
“No …no ...not twenty the dog is weak and needs to be worked upon.”

Finally it was settled for four less and we were driving back home with Magic, enthusiastically stationed at the rear seat perhaps not worried about the changes that were to come to his life, and us on the other hand were equally unaware of the impact which this spectacle was going to make in the times to come.

Magic was quite unlike a Rottweiler, he was calm. I would not call him mild for he had the testimonial aggression for the apt occasion, but for the creatures inhabiting the same abode he was gentle, rather too gentle at times as the newly born pups of Palma, the Alsatian bitch, would chase him disparagingly. Many would take advantage of this profuse gentleness, but there were others like Palma, who was, quick to discern such virtue and totally confided in him; so much so that she quite amazingly allowed Magic a free access to her litter. Magic had a stubborn habit of chasing stray cattle, which he would not give up even after being kicked twice on the head by angry hooves. It was sport, perhaps he thought, being unmindful of the danger involved in this amusement, not to be given up. He would disappear with the herd out of our sight inculcating a fear, which kept enhancing with every passing minute; lest he might not return at all… but he would always come back, all of a sudden, wagging profusely his lusty tail as if nothing ever happened.

It was late evening with the street lights glowing against a light cool breeze after a very hot summer day, it had rained somewhere in close vicinity which had transformed the scorching air current into a pleasingly cool one. This was the usual time for Magic to be on his post- meal walk. It was a different situation altogether now, earlier Magic would simply walk along with any one of us as an accomplice, on his own, unleashed. Of late he seemed to have developed repugnance for the street dogs. As these dogs were a persistent irritant, they would somehow come out from all directions, between pit holes, behind the low lying bushes from over the broken walls of unfinished houses, from the top of car carcasses, from the municipal garbage containers, from everywhere surrounding him barking unabashedly from a safe distance. Magic, by sheer virtue of his size would appear as a magnanimous tiger among a herd of pygmy foxes, would be impelled to devour who so ever he could catch hold of. The gentle sound the breeze made was ambushed by sudden shrill tones of moaning and husky howls. A precipitous jerk on the unguarded hand and out went the leash ferociously dragged on the ground running serpentine fashion after a galloping Magic. I struggled first to keep pace with Magic, failing which, simply followed the sound unto the place where the scene was to be executed – it was dim-lit place with a distant street light and it was poorly ventilated, it seemed as if all the air of the place had been pumped out. The light was poor but sufficient enough to highlight the saga; a small Spitz had perchance ventured out from a half open gate of the adjoining house and fell an easy prey to this robust brindle colored mongrel. The Spitz lay on the ground half dead with his neck tilted and he breathed heavily, while the Mongrel prepared to go for the final kill. It was at this crucial juncture that Magic descended on the scene in the true fashion of a savior. What ensued was an epic fight between these forces of good and evil, each one trying to rip apart the other, digging their claws into the opponents face, sometime they would stand upright on their hinds and topple down the other by their weight. The fight lasted a while then, as a master stroke Magic got hold of his opponent by the neck, lifted him up in the air and pounced him unto the ground in the likeness of an expert wrestler. With the firm grip over the neck, he was all set to go for the kill; it was here that my benumbed senses were revitalized. The leash was still fastened to Magic’s collar while the other end of it was available for anybody daring to pull him out of the mortal combat.

Magic was a homely dog, just a sniff and he would allow kinsman to pass through. Perhaps he could figure it out with something identical in the body odor, or was it some other intuitive way of classifying the close ones we could never make out how he did it and with such flawless precision. It was his family too; he thought and often conveyed it via his deep brown eyes looking into mine. But he was class-conscious, or I would say he did not like people tatters or shabbily dressed strangers. I do not know if this trait of his had something to do with the horrid memory of his previous owner, those impressions of infancy had made too deep and lasting impression on his psyche. Getting back to his disdain for man in shreds, I remember an instance when our car mechanic had brought back the car from the garage and was patiently waiting with a smile on his face for me to come down to the main gate and clear the dues, as was customary on his part leaning against the huge pillar fervently decorated with embedded female torso in black sandstone. I took longer than usual locating the wallet and coming downstairs into the lobby and then walking across the porch, locating him under the same pillar the place I had left him just a while ago. Yet there was a change in the setup, yes I could notice the smile was all gone and instead was a somber look almost as if in some pain, the eyes complaining the mouth not following suit. I looked harder trying to find out the reason of this metamorphosis, one of the sleeves of his shirt was missing; 

“new fashion, where is the other one” I bemusedly inquired.
“your dog took it away” came the pitiable reply.

 I reckon that day as one of the most uneventful one; it has on this day that I lost a wonderful mechanic for ever.

Not many of us write accounts of their pets, even if the pet meant so much to the family, the most they would do is to post a memory on the Face book or some photographs on the Instagram and that would be all. To get into a frame of a story would imply certain extraordinary feet on the part of the tamed. A black dog in our society, particularly in major parts of northern India, is an auspicious omen. On specific days people go crazy in search of black dogs on the streets so as to feed them; as this would bring boons to them. Magic was a black dog. Particularly during the summers, he would manage to injure himself, even the scratches would go bad converting into wounds with impending visitation of maggots. Raju would always say that it was his gratitude and love for us that he would partake upon himself, the imminent suffering on the family. As such statements and believes defy rationality they are best addressed to a quiet mind which responds more to feeling than to prudent logic. Not once, rather it became a regular phenomenon, while at the same time the other dogs, quite conspicuously, remained impervious. It was indeed tough to handle him thus to inject him, to clean his wounds was not within the capacity of a single person; it would be at least three of us who would administer the medication. It would need two people to hold him tight with metallic chains, a cardboard was thrust into his mouth. Very soon the cardboard would be torn apart to pieces in bearing the brunt of his aggression and resistance. Our bones would have met the same fate… but once it was all over there was no love lost between us, perhaps he knew somewhere in the heart that all this pain inflicted upon him was for his own cure. So all these years I saw him grow from a shy adolescent, at times even bullied by the younger lots, into a robust fighter, a passionate giant, as I loved to address him thus.

My parents were to leave for the vacation, I for the first time choose not to accompany them, and one reason was I had a bad cold which I feared would worsen with the exposure particularly in this very cold weather. Just before he left, father patted Magic and spoke to him:

“Magic I am leaving the house and Bhaiya to your care”.

I think he understood every bit of it, as he looked into his eyes wagged his tail, his way of conveying that do not worry. He came down up till the main gate, although with an impaired gait, to bid them farewell. So it was us on our own Me, Magic, Palma and our domestic help Raju. I could notice that I was being watched. Wherever I went these dark brown eyes followed me. He would sit outside my room and simply wait undeterred by anything, would see me in bed before retiring to his kennel which was just adjacent to my room, and clearly visible from my window opening into the garden. It went on fair enough for two days but on the third night the tension started building up, the surroundings had some unidentifiable tautness and the air seemed heavier than usual. It was a perfunctory buildup of some sorts, the how and why of which were disparagingly unidentifiable. I deliberately delayed going to bed then struggled with sleep as I wanted to be fully awake and cautious. Must have slept for not more than an hour, I was woken up by the commotion outside; the mental turbulence had taken a concrete shape. There were cluster of sounds, of footsteps, of spasmodic thrusts at the window, of grappling, of Magic barking profusely. Never before I heard him bark that much, and Rottweiler’s hardly bark, it appeared that he was engaged in some combat with some entity, a man or a shadow, invisible to me in the dark as I tried to steal a view out of the window. This went on for quite some time and then it stopped and an excruciating silence took over. The whole night passed in a dread, I could have shouted for Magic to know if he was alright but, words wedged, unable to find a way out. I was utterly helpless as never before, tried to contact Dad his phone did not respond, the only sound was of the ticking of the wall clock…how excruciating silence could be…I don’t remember when this wakefulness state got altered to a sleeping one. It was Raju who woke me up I knew what he had come to tell me. A small grave was dug and Magic was given a ceremonious burial. Thereafter it was the usual story of mourning, day to day and the grief eventually receding down with each passing day. 

Many months have passed, life has become absolutely normal once a while, and when I pass close to his kennel that I remember that once this was inhabited by someone who was so close to my heart…still is… the passage of time has to an extent healed the wound in the heart but at times it bleeds and bleeds profusely for him. He has been there on my Whats app Dp and there was mention of him on Dad’s face book along with a photograph of his standing tall and firm as if he knew he was being photographed. Then one day I found Raju to be behaving in a quaint manner. He seemed excited as if he was exploding with some information to be disclosed, yet he was cautious as he has been rebuked from opening up such prevarication at the breakfast table. He stood still attending to my needs, pouring hot tea into the china cup which has a mural from horsemanship; 

“You have to tell me something important,” I went after him…direct.
“Yes yes…..” he burst out, “Bahia jee I saw him in the night ….no early morning four maybe three o clock” his eyes were lustrous.
“Saw who? And that was a dream I suppose...”
“No Bahia je I saw him with these eyes ….near the main gate…I peeped out of the window as the dogs were barking repeatedly and I saw him….Ma ….Magic….same robust shape shinning eyes. He walked straight from the main gate to the outhouse and disappeared...”
“Must have seen something else…this is not possible,” I tried to dismiss the reporting.
“No Bhaiajee I swear on my mother I saw him, it was nobody else…tried to call him but words got stuck maybe because I was scared.”
“Don’t tell anybody about it you’d rather scare them,”

As I spoke those words I was fully aware that he would not be able to digest this and to prove me right….everyone in the family knew about his experience the previous night, so much so, that if you would go about the kennel and call out the name ‘Magic’, both Marshall and Palma would be on the alert and would look at you astonishingly. 

I am now located almost a year from the day when Raju had his almost unbelievable experience, yet somehow, I do not know how, this bonding has refused to recede. The memory has gown deeper into the consciousness, and overtly I may not be seen ranting it out in a public display on the social media, it has grown firm within. The other day I spoke to a senior friend of mine who is a tarot card reader if I would ever meet him again; she predicts that the chances are fairly bright. I spoke to my father as well expressing this issue; he firmly believes that if you keep consistently posing your questions with vigor, the universe responds. With such thoughts and belief in my mind, as a parallel system along with the routine thoughts of day to day life, I tried for an adjustment. I tried other things too, for instance had another Rottweiler as a pet, named him Magic to divert myself and get rid of this gentle pain which keeps coming back from time to time. But, the idea failed miserably, as I was not able to deceive my inner self with ersatz gimmicks of this quantifiable world. I repealed the baptism, not satisfied send away this new pet to the farm where I would see him once in two months or even less. I had stopped my story here with a thought that there is nothing further to pen down. All the while I struggled with conflicting thoughts about sending it for publication, there was definitely something which was holding me back, something unexplainable but with a clear message that the story is not complete yet. I was cross with myself of not letting the small world of my readers know about the magical twining of ‘once upon a time there was a dog…..’ story.

Days passed my longing grew; I was franticly trying to find answer to the riddle and more to the state of mental disquietude which it had unleashed. And then finally it happened--- a conscious dream…I wish I can establish it as distinct from a waking dream. No I don’t see with quivering eyes of the mind a robust black dog with shinning eyes speaking to me in a human voice. There stood before me a man standing about six feet and a quater tall. He was broad wrestler like man with wavy hair and meticulously trimmed beard. He was dressed in Prussian blue athletic attire, not delicately handsome but exceedingly masculine in his looks, voice and demeanor….. I amazingly ask: “Who are you? Why have you come to me?” .The reply is straight forward: “You called me, I am Magic.” The semi awakened state of my body can feel the horripilation. 

“How can you be Magic…..he was….he was…”
“A dog ….yes that is what I was when I died, that form too is intact in a subtle-physical form. This form is from my previous birth…”

The stout man kept speaking pouring in knowledge from a pedestal he was familiar with but of which I had no clue. Most of the content delivered at that time is not with me, they are perhaps in some inaccessible compartment of the sub-conscious the other was left out as was not discernable at that moment.

It was a wondrous moment, I could recall it any time as it remained crystal clear in the mind, but, as I often regret now, that under that spell I had become not only speechless but thoughtless too. I missed out asking him as to what had happened that night? How did he die? I know I would need another visitation of his to unfold these troubling questions of my mind. Perhaps Nature unfolds to us its secrets in a piecemeal fashion, unveiling proportions comestible to our consciousness. 
***


Bio: Dr. Dev Vrat Sharma is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of English at SPNKS Govt. PG College Dausa and a Research Supervisor with Rajasthan University. He was awarded Teacher Research Fellowship by UGC (2004-07). He is a short story writer and a poet and has been published by various journals and magazines like. English Literature (Sahitya Akademi New Delhi), Setu, Muse India, etc. He has many Research papers published in Indian Literary Theory and Aesthetics, Comparative Literature, Translations, Indian Philosophy and Metaphysics and Film Studies. He presented more than 25 Research papers at various International and national conferences and seminars. Further he has conducted various courses in communicative skills and personality development and made presentations on Doordarshan on communication and role of the English Language.

10 comments :

  1. Subtle yet poignant expression helps us to get an actual feel of Magic's loss and the heart-wrenching pain thereof ! We visualise what we read and become actual part of writer's world .
    Universe does respond and echoes what we carry within.!

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  2. The author seems to be suffering from a guilt of not being able to protect Magic, whom he loved so much. Moreover, it remained a mystery for him how Magic died. This guilt seems to have embedded deep in his psyche and it pops up in his dream of seeing a muscular man calling himself Magic, whom he considers to be his saviour and protector. A touching story of a very empathetic relationship with pet. Nice expression of a psychological delineation of human-animal relationship.

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  3. Story of Magic affected me magically. U chose such an interesting subject to write about. So beautiful story . Congratulations

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  4. Wonderfully interwoven emotions with rich blend of philosophy .The story rekindles our hope in love from which animals too can't refrain .Well crafted thoughts gently bring out a mutual bond with a pet..devoured me completely with its sublimity.. great reading

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  5. Beautiful story. Language used has an old world charm. The writer captivates the interest of the reader with Magic.

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  6. Beautiful story. Language used has an old world charm.The writer captivates our interest in Magic. Congratulations!!

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  7. The expressions of the author makes u feel part of his journey with Magic. My compliments to the author for a job well done.

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  8. I think the story is not only for animal love.it is about the trust and coordination among relations.In today's world we are loosing it.

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  9. I think the story is not only for the animal love.it is about the trust and coordination among the relations.In today's world we are loosing it.

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  10. Emotion of pure affection seems relatable to all is forwarded with beautiful and strong selection of words.

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