I hate dogs but I loved Lincoln – maybe ‘cos he was around in my childhood. He was a dachshund plus something else, jet black and smooth and silky.
I remember the sleepless nights I spent thinking of his predicament after his death for, one day, I was told in the catechism class, that animals have no souls and so, they will not attain eternal salvation. I felt very depressed the whole day. At night, I couldn’t sleep! I kept seeing my siblings and parents and I having a splendid time up there in some place in the skies while Lincoln---sigh! Where would he be? “He will be over once he dies. You see, he has no soul. That’s what distinguishes man from animals”, the catechism teacher told me the next day. I was crestfallen. I wished God had given dogs souls.
There were days when I found it hard to believe that Lincoln had no soul. He followed us around wherever we went. He looked up at us listening when we spoke to him and seemed to understand whatever we told him. How can he not have a soul, I wondered. Guess I was too young to understand that intelligence was not soul.
Like the cliché goes, he was the very epitome of loyalty. My brother and I were, once, silent audience at a grown up conversation which began with the ingratitude of man and ended up with numerous anecdotes on the gratitude of man’s best friend – Dog. During the course of the conversation, someone remarked that the only thing that’ll make a dog bite his master is disturbing the animal when it is eating. My brother and I looked meaningfully at each other. Both of us had made up our minds to test the veracity of that statement.
Thus it was that the next noon, the two of us sat near Lincoln while he was eating yellow rice with plenty of meat stuff in it. Both of us had short sticks in our hands and we started jabbing him from both sides. Grrrrr--- he went, but continued eating. Our jabs must have got painful for he started looking at us and barking shortly. We would move back when he did that and then again close in on him when he went back to his food. This went on for sometime. Then I put the stick into his plate and started pulling it away. The poor dog looked up at me angrily, baring all his teeth and grrrrrrrrrrimg away to glory. I was thrilled. It’s working, I thought.
Just then, Vasu, the odd job man, passed by, not very close to us, carrying water to the estate bungalow. He had two big square tins filled with water in his hands, which he held by the cross bar fixed across it, and one tin balanced on his head. I did not notice him ‘cos I was busy trying to pull Lincoln’s plate away from him, and had almost succeeded it doing this despite the fact that he was trying to hold it back with his front foot. Just then, Lincoln looked up at me angrily, leapt forward and made mince meat of Vasu’s calf.
All hell broke loose. People arrived from all over with sticks, air guns, lassoes to deal with the rabid dog. Somebody expertly threw the lasso round his neck and tied him tightly to a pole, without allowing any rope length to enable him to dodge the thrashing. And then the blows started.
I screamed then. So did my brother. Together we jumped between the dog and the angry men and scared women. Our confession tumbled out. People dropped their sticks and walked away, throwing disgusted glances at us.
Poor Lincoln was released. He quietly went back to his food and finished it, while the two of us stood there looking at him guiltily.
Soon summons from amma came from the bungalow. We were made to watch the first aid being given to Vasu who was to be taken to the hospital which was some distance away. And then the two of us were made to sit in two deep chairs while all the elders of the family, towering intimidatingly over us, took turns to give us angry lectures.
For days, the picture of Lincoln trussed up and beaten haunted me. But the poor chap held no grudge. He continued to follow us around like before.