When we moved into our new home, we were happy to be welcomed by the neighbors on either side. We didn’t see too much of the family behind us – their back yard was separated from ours by a hedge – and they didn’t seem to spend much time there.
Then they got a new dog, an adorable golden retriever they named Thor. Excited yelping could be heard each day as the family attempted to train him. True to his breed, however, Thor was far more interested in retrieving things. From their garden and ours.
He’d push through the hedge and dig in my veggie patch. The family’s young sons would leap over the hedge and haul him back, mumbling an apology, but I became quite used to weeding as he snuffled around me, keeping vigil.
My daughter, Chitra, all of three, was fascinated by Thor and would toddle over whenever she spotted him. She’d hug him and squeal with delight as he licked her face with his big wet tongue. The lady of the house would peer over the hedge and laugh that Thor had the run of both our homes.
One day, Thor was being particularly rambunctious and Chitra wasn’t helping, as she ran around, getting him more excited. I grew exasperated as it had been a long day and I was trying to get some yard work done.
I called out to my husband in Hindi – not sure who was on the other side of the hedge and not wanting to make my irritation apparent.
“Can you please come and stop Thor from running through my flowers?” I asked.
“I wish they’d control their silly dog!” I grumbled aloud.
A head popped over the hedge. Our neighbour whom we had not seen much of until then apologized profusely and said he’d be over to pick up Thor.
He came, complimented me on our garden and got chatting with my husband. I went in to get them coffee and emerged a few minutes later to hear him belting out an old Kishore Kumar number. With perfect diction.
I almost dropped the coffee in shock.
Arthur, our neighbour, said his parents had spent many years in India as missionaries and he had grown up near Kanpur.
“I know what ‘bewaqoof kutta’ (silly dog) means,” he said, with a broad grin.
– ASHA TRIPATHI
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