Neighbourhood stray barks rabidly

The first thing that one faces on waking up in the morning and walking out to verandah outside is the expectant looks on the face of the pet, a stray that is now domesticated for the last five years. She jumps around excitedly, goes towards the gate, then jumps higher and waits for the leash to be picked up.
These activities are basically meant to convey that it is time for her to be taken on a sair of the neighbourhood. If one steps inside again, she wears doleful looks and sits near the exit door, patiently impatient watching intently for the next moves.
As one picks up the walking stick, she knows instinctively that she is going out indeed and starts making peculiar noises which convey her happiness. For her, the stick signifies a weapon that can be used to defend her from strays she will encounter outside, and a sure indicator that she is going out for the walk.
With a swagger in her walk, and a spring in her steps, her tail up, she waits to be put on leash so that the next 30 minutes are hers. She considers herself the queen of all the streets, and side lanes she surveys during her inspection tour, tied to a leash.
About 200 metres away, she is startled by the quick darting away of the marial dog who starts barking loudly only when he is about 20 metres away, apparently what he deems a safe distance. Initially, it is more of a whimper than a bark, but it grows louder once a couple of more strays, his regular companions, join him.
Emboldened by the full throated barking of companions, the skinny lean fellow lunges forward, as if to bite the pet, but slithers away as the walking stick nearly gets him, and the pet ferociously charges at him. Straining at the leash, the hair on the pet’s neck are now standing, as if it were the mane of an equine. As one looks around for the stray that had started it all, one realises that he is trying hard to get under the nearest car, incessantly barking, a nervous whimper. His companions too run helter-skelter, one dashing over a low barbed fence, and another nearly gets hit by a school bus carrying boisterous children.
This has almost settled into a regular routine, with the lone marial stray barking from under the safety of a car, two or three of his companions join the chorus, but in almost a disinterested fashion. The marial stray barks loud, and for a long time, as if it were rabid, and darts from one lane to another in a flash, trying perhaps to intimidate and terrify.
All this to no avail and that is almost a stalemate, the daily walk beginning with a stout stick in hand, two stones hidden in pocket for use as possible missiles, with thoughts about the loner who hasn’t stopped barking. Over the past few days, its barking, which seemed intent and serious initially, has become a whimper, and it seems pitiable now.
It is annoying to be faced with such barking daily, a neighbor who has watched it all unfold day after day, remarked sympathetically. A smile is the answer, and encouraged, he remarks: Modi made a speech at the UN General Assembly for a little over fifteen minutes, and Imran Khan’s speech took nearly 50 minutes.
Switching topics effortlessly, he adds: That dog is unlikely to let you walk around here peacefully in the lane he considers his. Of course, it will continue barking incessantly and in a terrified manner, playing the victim as if he has been thrashed badly, and mercilessly. On seeing you and your pet on a walk, it will always slither under any car parked nearby, but make threatening noises. It is for you to choose how to respond to that, and the stout stick in your hand is intimidating for it, he explained.
Why do you think Imran made such a long speech? If he were serious in what he professes, it is time he started a war rather than rattling the nuclear armed neighbours bit so often, the sage neighbour remarked even as homewards walk resumed.
One was left wondering as to why the marial dog made the most noise, even when it was most terrified, mortally afraid and it showed clearly. It’s companions had supported it a couple of days in the beginning, soon to realise that it was creating unnecessary ruckus.
Tomorrow is another day.

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