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  • Angad Dabholkar

Gratitude

It was a pleasant day, birds were whistling, cool winds were blowing, people were in a rush to reach work on time. Women were hanging wet clothes, for the warm sun rays to feel and understand what moisture is. Children were playing on the streets. Some of them were playing cricket, some skipping and some bickering about who is better Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. It was a pleasant day but for Meera, it was not. 5 days had passed since she had left her uncle and aunt's house. Meera’s parents had died in an accident and Meera was going to get all the property. This was resented by her uncle and aunt. They started to torture her both mentally and physically so that they can prove she is not fit to handle the deed. When Meera was unable to bear the torture, she left the house with enough resources until she finds a permanent place to live. She would sometimes find a place with food but no shelter, sometimes shelter but no food. She thought, “There is no place left in Chennai where I can live, eat and drink.” At last, she found a perfect place to live. There was food, a nice shelter and water to drink. Even though she was going to live on the street, she wanted a perfect place to live. Meera had almost exhausted her saving. She had to find an orphanage which she was never on her list of places to live at. That day it was raining heavily in Chennai. There were floods in different regions. Vegetables, plastic bags, tree branches, were floating away. There was a lot of loss. “This rain brought Chennai to a standstill,” said the media. Fortunately, luck favoured Meera this time. The place where she was living was in the outskirts of the city, the floodwaters were not high. Meera thought to herself, ” This place is not that flooded. A vehicle or two can travel from here I think.” Then she hears the cries of some animal. When she gets up with an umbrella (which had come floating to her), she finds a puppy shivering with cold. He was so feeble that he could have died of the cold. Meera picked up the puppy and sat with it under the umbrella. She covered him with a small wool blanket she had found while scavenging for a place to live. They both sat at the edge of the footpath, under that umbrella. She gave him some biscuits and a chapati she had found. Thus, Meera saved the puppy. She was proud of it of course. Then they both just waited until the rains calmed down. However, the heavens had something else in their minds, a bond of love was forming between the two. It was as if Lord Indra sent Kamadeva to shoot an arrow of friendship between them. The bond was getting so strong that Meera wished that she would never have to leave him and always stay with him. When the clouds calmed down after leaving out the stress gathered from retreating, Meera saw a light shining brightly at a distance. It was going from this route to some village. The light was coming closer and closer and suddenly stopped 7 feet away from them. Then an elegant, kind-looking woman stepped out of the bus and asked Meera,

“What are you doing out here? Are you lost? Were you sitting here since the beginning of the rains?” Meera then narrates her story and gives out a cry after finishing it. The woman said, “ Oh! I see. Don’t cry, little girl. Let me introduce myself. I am Meenakshi Iyer. I work at the Similes Orphanage. If you want, I can take you with me. We are just heading over there. It is in Swamimalai Village. “So, what do you say?” Meera was very happy. She was searching for a nice orphanage. But she laid a condition. “ Please allow me to bring this puppy. I am taking care of him.” Meenakshi agreed to the condition and they left for the village. When they reached Meera could not believe her eyes. The village was beautiful, the air was fresh, the Kaveri River flowing through the city and happy people were all around. Meera felt that she had taken an adult-like decision. When she entered the building, it had many beautiful flowers in its huge garden. There were many orphans. The rooms of the orphanage were neat and clean. Meenakshi asked, “ Do you like this place? ” Meera nodded. Even the puppy liked it. Meera then named the puppy Happy, because he was always happy and playful. Their days went by playing with other orphans. Happy enjoyed it the most since he was loved by everybody and he liked the evening massage given by Meera. They both lived there happily. Now Meera, the14 year old girl, has become a beautiful and mature teenager. She had many concepts understood and learned. She was also called the Chanakya of the village and looked upon to be a collector of the village by every citizen of the village. The people had made a strong bond with her. Now she could say that she is not an orphan. She gave all this credit to Meenakshi because she used to personally take care of her and teach her. One pleasant day, Meera was returning from the temple festival with Happy. She was late because she was dazzled by the glamour at the festival. The sun had set and the evening had risen from his sleep. She told Happy with a fearful voice, “ We are in big trouble now. Be ready for a lecture from amma.” She would call Meenakshi amma since she took care of her just like a mother. She was now passing the patch with dense trees. She called it the Iruṇṭa iṇaippu, which means Dark Patch. The deeper she went eerier noises were heard. Then suddenly she heard a sound from the bushes. She started walking fast. Happy was following her, looking at her with his tongue out. Then suddenly a huge wild cat jumped out of the bushes. He tried to attack Meera. Happy understood the gesture of the cat and he jumped in front of the cat to protect Meera. Meera shouted, “ Stop Happy. Don’t try to be smart. Come behind me.” Happy did not listen. It was as if he wanted to protect her at any cost even if his life was at risk. Meera did not understand why he was doing this. Then the cat attacked Happy. They fought fiercely. In the end, the cat gave up after the deep scratch blow given by Happy. Yet, he was wounded badly. Meera picked him up and started running to the orphanage. There he was treated by a nurse. Later after his treatment, he was kept on a bed to rest. He was exhausted fighting with the wild cat. When Meera came to meet him, he stood up and liked her hand. That time she remembered that she had helped him when he was about to die and he fought the wild cat just to show his gratitude to her. She gave him a tight hug and with a loving voice she said, “ Oh you silly little dog !”



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