Dr. Shirish Daftary
Past President, FOGSI
Past Chairperson, MTP Committee, FOGSI
Past President, MOGS
Sonal’s Pet Dog
The Patwardhan couple had waited for a child for 5 years. They had finally reconciled to their fate. Prashant, a computer engineer had a promising career ahead, he plunged himself headlong into his work, this helped him forget about their barren marriage. Varsha worked as a jewellery designer. Her designs were much acclaimed. She too kept herself busy. Prashant and Varsha devoted themselves strictly to pursuing their careers. They showered their love on children in the home for the destitiute. They distributed clothes, toys and sweets to these deprived children on their anniversary and on every New Year’s day.
On one Sunday evening, when Prashant was watching the movie Dhool ka Phool, Varsha brought up the topic of her desire to adopt a child. Prashant tried to brush it aside. He said that his friends who had children complained of the hassles of raising children. In the present times – children were a high maintenance liability, taking on such a responsibility would entail the need for Varsha to restrict her work and devote more time to the child. It would hinder their carefree lifestyle, interfere with their vacations and enhance their domestic expenses.
Varsha felt her maternal instincts nagging her at parties and social gathering, where other women would discuss activities of their children, school admissions, uniforms and books, dance classes, music lessons, school sports, planning birthday parties, designing dresses for fancy dress competitions, organizing camps, family picnics, and the all joys and pleasures of motherhood. On such occasions Varsha invariably felt a sense of deep void in her otherwise active and fulfilling life.
Divali was fast approaching. Prashant’s sister wrote to say that she and her family were planning to spend their Divali vacation in Mumbai, and wondered if it would be convenient to Varsha and Prashant. Varsha was quite excited, a suitable letter of invitation was promptly dispatched. A fortnight later Divya and Girish Rane along with their 5 year daughter Nilima arrived. Nilima was the focus of attention of everyone at home. She was sweet natured child, she sang and danced happily, and drew pictures with her crayons. One day she drew a picture of her kind aunt Varsha and presented it to her. This gesture moved Varsha to tears of joy. A week later, Divya and her family departed, presents were exchanged, and an invitation to visit the Rane’s at Nagpur during Christmas was duly extended.
After the visit, Varsha began to experience a gnawing feeling constantly tugging at her heart strings. She too yearned for a child like Neelima. Varsha now started her quest in earnest. She prevailed on Prashant and obtained his concurrence to initiate the process for adoption. She visited a social worker and counselor of an adoption agency. The adoption agency arranged an appointment visit for Prashant and Varsha to visit St. Catherine’s Home. Varsha met various children that were put up for adoption, they were all young and under the age of three years. As Varsha approached a little girl named Sonal, she smiled at Varsha and raised her arms in a gesture of wanting to be picked-up. That was the crucial moment when all Varsha’s pent-up emotions gave way. Tears brimming from her eyes, Varsha lifted the child in her arms and hugged it tight. Sonal responded warmly, showering Varsha with hugs and smiles. The decision was made there and then to adopt Sonal. The formal process of adoption process was forthwith set in motion.
Three months later, Sonal came to live with the Patwardhan family. Sonal won the hearts of all around her with her smiles and laughter. She was a loving, warm and carefree child. Sonal welcomed daddy whenever he returned from work with a sweeyt coy smile. Prashant who was a geek, gradually changed with passing days. He now started to look forward to play sessions with his daughter. Prashant and Varsha agreed that they had never known so much joy until Sonal came into their lives.
About 6 months later, Sonal developed a fever, soon she stopped scampering around and became peevish. The family doctor treated her for a few days, however Sonal’s restriction of activities began to raise concern. Sonal was therefore taken to a pediatrician, who diagnosed her to be suffering from poliomyelitis. This came as a big shock. However, Varsha now gave up work to be with her daughter. Varsha regularly took Sonal for her physiotherapy sessions. This indeed helped her recovery considerably, however she was left with a residual limp. She was advised to use special shoe which helped her in locomotion, but she could not run around freely nor could she participate in outdoor games.
At the age of 5 years, Sonal joined school. She was unable to participate in games, but was content in cheering her class mates. She later opted out for drawing and vocal music as alternatives to sports. She excelled in both subjects.
On her eighth birthday, she requested her parents to give her a pet. Varsha and Prashant considered this to be a reasonable request, looking after her pet would provide her some diversion and fill up her lonely moments. They took her to a pet shop and requested the shop owner to show them puppies which were put up for sale. The shop-owner announced that his female dog had just given birth to three pups about 10 days ago, these were up for sale. He whistled and called for his pet dog Margaret. She came ambling along and was soon followed by two fluffy ball like pups, a few minutes later, a third smaller pup limped along. Sonal picked up the last pup and looked him over. The shop owner said that he could not sell that pup because it had a defective foot and would not be able to run about freely. On hearing this, Sonal pointed to her own defective leg. She said that the little lame pup would suit her fine as they would both understand one another well. The deal was sealed, and the little brown pup came home to live with the Patwardhans.
The pup had a white spot on its forehead, therefore Sonal named her pet dog “SPOT”. Varsha was happy to see Sonal and Spot bonding well. Sonal had never been so happy as she now was ever since Spot arrived. Sonal looked after her pup, fed him, bathed him and took him out for a stroll in the park. The pup reciprocated by licking her, and sitting by her side whenever she was busy studying. Spot was always at the door to welcome Sonal with bark whenever she returned from school. At home the two were inseparable.
As she grew-up, Sonal took part in elocution contests and inter-class debates. Her skills at debating were much appreciated. She represented her school in inter-school debates and won several prestigious awards. After passing her high school board examinations with honours, Sonal decided to study English Literature. She joined the St. Xavier’s College and pursued the course to graduate with B.A.(Hons) with English as her special subject. Spot grew-up to be a fine dog. He was obedient and well behaved. He loved being stroked and being taken outdoors for a stroll. His limp would not permit him to run around, but a slow and lazy walk with Sonal would make them both happy.
After Sonal graduated, she took up a job with an advertising firm. She would bring back gifts for her parents and one for dear Spot. Three years later, she noticed that Spot was loosing weight, he was becoming increasingly listless and had reduced his diet. But even when he was not well, he never refrained from welcoming Sonal home when she returned from work.
Sonal took him to a vet, who said that Spot was suffering from inoperable cancer, and that Sonal should be prepared to see him going steadily downhill. Sonal was downcast on hearing this, however Spot jumped into her lap and started to lick her lovingly. Sonal decided to make Spot’s last days a happy. She now assiduously attended to her dog. She would bathe him, feed him, put him to sleep in his basket, administer his medications regularly and showered her affections on Spot. He could not walk too far, so she started carrying him to the park. At the next visit, the vet told her that Spot had not much longer to live, that he was suffering much from pain, and that it would be kind to put him to sleep. He gave her three days to decide. Sonal discussed it with her parents, they too were sorry to hear the news about Spot. Finally they left the decision to Sonal.
Sonal kept her doggy by her side all night, comforting him from time to time. Seeing his discomfort, she decided that the time had come for her to let go of her pet. She got out of bed early, bathed Spot, brushed him and fed him. At the breakfast table she announced her decision to her family. She called up the vet and made an appointment, and then decided to drive her pet to the Vet’s office. Varsha offered to go with her, but Sonal wanted her last moments with her dog to be private.
At the vet’s office she sat in the waiting room with Spot nestled in her lap. Her eyes were brimming with tears. Spot could sense her grief, he would raise his head to her face and give her a loving lick, but was too feeble to do any more. When her name was called out – she stepped into the procedure room, prayed to god for sending her angel in the form of Spot to help her through her days of trial and tribulation, put the dog on the examining table, with his head resting on her lap. The doctor pricked the dog, he found a vein, at that moment Spot lift his head and looked at Sonal in her eyes, gave her his last loving grip and slipped into coma and deep sleep. His breathing became progressively shallow, ten minutes later he was no more.
Sonal came home shaken up. She knew that she had done the best that could be done. In giving him up she had overcome her selfishness and freed the dog from his miseries. She told her parents not to grieve. Addressing them she said that the good lord had sent three angels to look after her during life. The first two angels were her adopted parents who had given her unstinted support and love. The third angel was Spot, who came into her life to relieve her from wallowing in her crippled state. Spot brought home sunshine and unconditional love. Now that his work on earth was over, God called him back to rest in eternal peace.