A Road Less Travelled

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It was just another day. I went to the Dog Adoption Camp like I had done, so many times before.

My induction into the world of strays and rehabilitation had started many years ago when I was in school, in my crucial year-the 10th standard and had brought Eva, a lovely mongrel, home. She was a loving and an accepting ‘friend and rock’ to me through my teen years. Since then I had always been involved with strays in some or the other capacity. The experience changed me and I knew I wanted to work for animal welfare, especially the dogs in our country as so often, they are ill treated.

I met Ranjan for the first time at the camp that day…

We realised that we both had a lot in common such as music, food, travel and most important we both loved dogs and working for their welfare. Soon we began to think if there could be a future for us together. I knew our connection was undeniable; we understood both, each other’s sentences and the pauses but is that enough for two people to marry?

One day as we were scrubbing and applying medicine to a sickly hairless pup at the orphanage, he looked at me, eyes oozing with life and love for what he was doing and said, ‘you know, I could do this all my life,’ and then he said the words which ring joyously and clearly in my ears even today, ‘I don’t want kids. You see these fellows here, they will be my children, always’. It was like looking in the mirror!

We dated for about a year after that and then got married. Soon after, we adopted a stray that we were fostering. With Chutki in our lives our family was complete. But life, it likes to toss a puzzle or two at us once in a while.

One day, I saw Ranjan’s father play with someone’s grandchild, I felt this surge of an emotion within, telling me that I must give him a grandchild of his own. He had always been supportive of our decision to not have children but I felt the grandfather in him deserved a grandchild and I must give him one in spite of the health issues that I had come to learn of off late… When I couldn’t dismiss the feelings any more, I discussed it with my husband.

He sat down and looked into my eyes and asked me, ‘do ‘you’ want a baby’?

‘No’, I replied, ‘…but I feel daddy needs to enjoy being a grandfather…’

‘Manjiree do ‘you’ want to be a mother’, he repeated gently.

‘No’, I replied ‘I already am a mum to Chutki’.

‘If, you want a baby, it is a different matter. Else there is no way that I will put your health or life at risk with a pregnancy’.

And that was that.

Four years of married life saw the usual ups and downs along with some scratched furniture, dog hair and impossible holiday plans. My father in law affectionately started a loving blog on our ‘daughter’ Chutki; https://chutkiwoof.wordpress.com. Family support is valued by all couples and daddy’s blessings in this manner meant a lot to us.

Like any other marriage, we work on ours. Like any other parents, we dote on our Chutki. As my husband and I tread together on this path less taken, we’re always grateful to Ganu for sending this lovely girl, our daughter Chutki to our lives and for how beautiful our lives have become with her in it. Ranjan and I work together, to try and do our best for the dog community and spread the word of adopting a dog… as we have experienced, they too can bring the same joy as a human child.

Manjeeri Patwardhan

As told to Aarti Pathak


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