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Short Story Contest 2020-21


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“Ma’am, the ceremony will begin in a short time. We are waiting for the chief guest.” The event manager informed her.

“OK. I’m almost ready.” Kavya replied. Today evening, her first book of poems was getting inaugurated, all those that she had written in the past 2 years.

And suddenly, she remembered the closed envelope in her bag. That came to her in the morning while getting ready for the flight to Mumbai.

Now, with some time left for the function, she took out that envelope, with an international code printed on it.

Realizing the country code, her mind drifted back to those memories, about 2 years ago.

“Your dog is suffering from Malignant Hypothermia.” Dr. Anupam, a renowned Veterinary doctor in New Delhi, explained to her looking at the dog’s blood reports. “This is a condition in which an animal’s body temperature increases rapidly, which further causes muscle contraction, a very rapid & irregular heartbeat, unstable blood pressure & fluid built up in lungs. Sometimes this also leads to kidney failure, which may be fatal. This occurs when an animal is subjected to stress, fear or something which will panic him.”

Kavya realized this happened because he had heard her parents fight over a minor issue. This occurred 2-3 times, following which Kavya decided to consult a doctor.

“A dog knows who his owner is, and if you neglect him, he feels alone, ignored. Considering his illness, he requires utmost care & love. Take him for longer walks, feed him yourself, play with him, this is all he wants. Because if he suffers a stroke again, his life will be in danger.”

Kavya understood that due to her job, she was not able to give more time to Murphy, whom she had lovingly adopted.

Working as CS in a high-profile company in Delhi, she gave her work first priority everyday, eventually working from home after office hours in her plush 4-bhk apartment in Jor Baugh, New Delhi. She had noticed this dog, a pretty hairy Golden Retriever, with a silent face always seated below a bench near a road side shop. Initially she fed biscuits to him, but one day she decided to adopt him after he was injured by other stray dogs.

Her family never approved this. Her dad wanted her to become an engineer & her mom wanted her to learn cooking. But Kavya disagreed both of them, and decided to live life in her way. This was the major cause of arguments between them.

Given her work commitments, Kavya was still not sure how will she take a leave or give time to Murphy. She could not just leave the dog in her maid’s care.

Finally, she applied for a 3 months sabbatical leave & decided to take Murphy on a Holiday in the Himalayas to spend more time with him.

Packing her bags & Murphy’s medicines, after 3 hours of long flight, she reached her hotel in Shimla on the outskirts of the town in the afternoon. There was a small balcony in her room, which offered lush views of the Himalayas, the surrounding beautiful landscape & the city below.

Murphy took his place on a small armchair in the Balcony.

Kavya came & saw Murphy seating on a chair & staring at her. His fur was shining a bit & moving in the early afternoon breeze.

“I know that’s your place, Mr. M & you are not going to let me seat there…!” she said hugging him tightly.

After arranging all the things around, she opened her writing book & tried to put to put down a few lines of poem that came to her mind.

Back in her school days, she was excellent in writing poems & had won many awards in poem writing competition. She could rhyme words on anything or any topic. Continuing this hobby in her college days, she had written poems for 2-3 different magazines & was planning to publish a book of herself.

However, she lost her touch of writing poems after becoming a corporate professional. Totally exhausted after working continuously for 14-15 hours, she had no energy left to start writing, which went on for quite a number of years.

Murphy came & sat down beside her, trying to understand what was happening.

“You know what, I am trying to write a poem, but how should I begin?” she asked Murphy.

In response, Murphy got up & brought his leash to her.

“Oh, so you want to go out?” Kavya said. Even though she was exhausted after a long travel, she decided to go out for Murphy.

With a common paved road connected to the main compound, her hotel was a part of 6 buildings. After crossing the main road, a river bridge & a market, she saw a park on the other part of the city. It had wonderful landscape & water bodies, surrounded by open sit outs & a gazebo in the center. A huge jogging track ran on its entire periphery.

Back in her room, after having shower, she came in the balcony & saw Murphy seated on the chair, observing the city below.

“You’re liking this place, I assume, you naughty dog.” Kavya asked him. Murphy wagged his tail in response.

“What is it?” Kavya asked at 6:30 AM the next morning when she saw Murphy pushing her to get up. She was about to sleep, when her eyes saw the beautiful sky from the sliding window.

Coming out in the balcony, she looked outside & realized the entire purplish-blue sky, the surrounding city & the clouds were filled with the golden rays of the rising sun. In the cool morning breeze, she heard the merry chirping of the Himalayan Bulbul & Partridge birds flying around. Experiencing such morning for the first time, she immediately clicked 2-3 photos on her cell-phone.

And suddenly, Kavya felt an urge to write.

About to come back inside, she turned & saw Murphy standing at the door, holding her pen & book in his mouth, staring at her. Thanking him, she took the book & rhymed a wonderful poem on the early sunrise she had just seen.

As she finished writing, she experienced a wonderful joy, an inside happiness she had never felt for a long time.

That morning, after writing the poem, she took Murphy for a walk in the park. It was full of people jogging, running & exercising. Some dog lovers patted Murphy on his head, who wagged his tail in response.

After brisk-walking 3-4 rounds along the huge park, Kavya came and sat down on a bench next to a young lady.

She played fetch a ball with Murphy, making him run along the path & giving commands. Murphy clearly understood all that Kavya was saying.

“He’s a very nice dog.” The lady said on seeing Murphy play.

Kavya smiled back & while Murphy played, she had casual talks with the lady, who was very sweet spoken & polite.

After spending some time in the park, Kavya brought Murphy back to her room. Finishing her breakfast & after giving medicines to Murphy, she composed her written poem on the sunrise photos using a photo editing app & posted it on Facebook.

Kavya spend the whole day playing with Murphy & in the evening, she checked her Facebook & saw more than 50 people had liked her post & numerous others had commented good things on it.

The next morning, she again woke up at 6:30 AM & while on the way to park, she saw a vendor feeding milk outside his diary to hungry cats. Kavya immediately took a photo of this in her phone.

After finishing 4-5 rounds of brisk walking on the jogging track, Kavya came and sat on the same bench where the lady was seating yesterday. Murphy came & shook hands with Kavya’s new friend.

Kavya liked the lady’s sweet & polite nature. While chatting, the lady introduced herself as Sangeeta, who ran a small dog creche in her bungalow, a short distance away from the park. Kavya told her about Murphy’s past & how they came here to spend more time together.

After listening to his story, Sangeeta felt bad for the dog, who was trying to overcome a serious health issue.

Later, Kavya came back to the hotel & rhymed a beautiful poem on the behavior of cats. Using photo editing app, she edited that image with the poem & uploaded it on Facebook.

That evening, she checked and found more than 150 likes & numerous comments on her previous poem. On today’s post, she had received almost 70 likes with equally good comments.

This became her daily schedule. After waking up early in the mornings, she went to the park for long walks followed by meetup with Sangeeta. Back to the hotel, her whole day was spend playing with Murphy & uploading poems on Facebook.

“Could I request you one thing?” A few days later, as Kavya was about to leave, Sangeeta asked her, “As you know, I have lot of dogs in my creche who come and play with each other. If you are OK with it, you can send Murphy there. I am telling this because if Murphy spends more time with other dogs, playing with them, he will heal more easily & his health will improve. Understand this that regular play is crucial to a dog’s happiness and well-being. Mixing with other dogs is a happy experience for most canines. Dogs have emotional intelligence, and learn signals from other dogs early on if they’re properly socialized with others of their kind.”

At first Kavya was not ready, but considering Murphy’s health, she accepted Sangeeta’s invitation. That day itself, before going to the hotel, she took Murphy to Sangeeta’s bungalow, a short walking distance from the park.

As soon as they reached, a huge fleet of about 10-15 dogs welcomed them. From retrievers to German Shepherds, every breed dog was present inside.

As Murphy played with the dogs in the play area in front of the bungalow, Sangeeta welcomed Kavya inside. While going through the plush living room with antique furniture, Kavya saw some handmade crayon & water-color paintings with ‘Samaira’ written at the bottom.

“Those are made by my daughter.” Sangeeta said.

Kavya spend some time there & then returned to the hotel, keeping Murphy to play with his new friends.

The next day onwards, she went to the park & after walking, let Murphy go to Sangeeta’s bungalow. Murphy was always ready to go there & meet his new furry friends. Sangeeta dropped Murphy back to the hotel in the afternoon just before lunch, so that his medicines were not disturbed. She informed Kavya that Murphy was the most obedient, disciplined & intelligent amongst every dog in her creche, infact all the other dogs were following him.

Kavya decided that till she was here, she’ll let Murphy spend more time with his dog companions, because she observed he was happier, joyful and active in the past 1-2 days & his health was also improving. He had not suffered a single stroke since the day they came here. Also, she realized how intelligent her dog was. He understood almost everything she said & followed all her commands, whether inside or outside. She was grateful for being with him, for slowly he had also brought a schedule in her life.

She had started getting up early, and spend more time on writing poems. Slowly, as the number of poems increased, she created a Facebook page & sent invites to many of her friends, who at once accepted it. Sometimes she even wrote in the evenings, with Murphy seated next to her.

Her cell-phone rang, bringing Kavya back to her senses. The call was from her publisher.

“Hello Kavyaji, we have received more than 5000 pre-orders for your book…! What’s more is that one of my friend publishes a magazine in our area. She follows your page on Facebook and the moment she came to know about your book, she has readily agreed to put some of your poems in her magazine. I’ll share the contact details with you.”

As she called on the number given to her, the friend turned out to be Sonam, the lady whom she had met 2 years ago. Sonam was overjoyed to hear from Kavya. She thanked Murphy again for helping her daughter so much & readily agreed to pay her nicely for the poems that will be published in her magazine.

Disconnecting the call, Kavya remembered a similar incident that had happened in Shimla.

“Could I request you one thing?” Sangeeta said as Kavya was about to leave, “Can you come today evening to my bungalow? We have a small function with all the kids & dogs. Please do come. Someone wants to meet you there…!”

Surprised, Kavya agreed to go to her bungalow & came to the hotel.

That evening, as she entered the bungalow with Murphy, she was welcomed by parents, who never knew her, but knew Murphy. Most of them were owners of the dogs that came into the creche., Murphy greeted all the dog-owners by shaking hands.

“Come inside. I’ll show you something.” Saying this, Sangeeta took Kavya into the living room. As Kavya entered, she was shocked.

The whole living room was filled with around 10-12 kids, but all of them were differently abled. Most of them were confined to a wheelchair, and almost everyone had some deficacy in their body. Someone couldn’t see straight, 2-3 of them had deformed face with one hand not working, someone’s eyes were titled sideways. Every kid had 1 or 2 guardians helping him.

“All of these kids are suffering from Cerebral Palsy. Most of them were born prematurely, some of them may not even live till 15-20 years of age. They don’t understand all that we say. Some of them are taking very strong medicines just to stay awake & aware of the surroundings.”

Kavya felt bad on seeing their condition.

And then, Kavya saw the whole living room filled with cheers & laughs as soon as the kids saw Murphy. The dog personally greeted every kid, mingling nicely with each & every one of them.

“The kids are happy, cheerful because of Murphy. Your dog understands them very well, knows what they want, takes proper care of them. He is like an angel to such kids, who have no friends, no one to understand them. Some of these kids can’t speak, but still your dog understands what they want. He has brought discipline, smiles & happiness to every one here, including my daughter, Samaira.”

Saying this, she pointed to a girl, sitting on a wheelchair with a deformed face & tilted eyes. She was clapping happily on seeing Murphy.

“I wanted my daughter to be happy, how much ever years she is alive. I therefore started a dog creche, so that looking at them play around, she’ll forget her pain for some time. When I heard from you about your dog’s past, I thought that if he came here, it will help him heal himself. But he came to these kids by chance. He did play with the dogs, but he spent most of his time here with these kids, helping and playing with them.”

As Sangeeta said this with tears in her eyes, Kavya saw Murphy merrily running around & helping every kid in the living room.

Now Kavya understood why Murphy was happy since the past some days. He was happy because he had found his happiness to be with these kids & spread joy to them, bring cheerfulness & feel-good things in them. These kids had no one to play with, but Murphy became their friend, their guardian, a special one who knew everything they wanted.

“Namaste Kavyaji, myself Dr. Abhay Pratap.” Kavya turned & saw a couple standing behind. “She is my wife Sonam. My kid, Arjun, is suffering from Reversible Posterior Leukoencephalopathy Syndrome (RPLS). It’s a type of brain disorder where the kid is unable to focus on anything & has difficulty in speaking. He can’t even see properly sometimes. He has no control over his bladder. I take great care of him, but that day…”

Dr. Abhay paused to wipe his tears.

“That day, unfortunately my son went into a seizure for the 1st time. I was outside, explaining something to Sangeetaji, when suddenly your dog started barking & took us inside.

We had to immediately rush him to a nearby hospital. The doctors said a slight delay could have made him slip into a coma. I am so thankful to your dog, because of him, today my son is alive.”

Kavya couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She was surprised that her dog could help so many kids, could save so many lives.

Later that evening, as Kavya was leaving, Dr. Abhay called her & said, “One of my colleague in Berlin, Germany, works with kids who have brain disorders. Scientifically, it is been proved that children with certain disorders can easily heal when they have a compassionate pet to take care of them. I saw how nicely your dog can understand these kids. If you are OK, can I recommend that you send your dog to Germany to help those kids?”

Dr. Abhay saw that Kavya thinking about something.

“I understand that you love him the most & he has brought about a change in your life & to every kid’s life here. But from what you told me; he must have suffered a bad past must have had a bad experience with his past owners. Such events trigger mental illness in pets. But now, he is very much happy while helping these kids. Most importantly, you said his health is also improving. Without any formal training, he understands everything about such kids. At this stage, after some time, if you take him back to your city, understand that his illness may further increase. He will again return back to his usual lifestyle, he will lose his happiness, his joy, everything. Because his happiness is here…! He wants to help such kids. And who can understand the importance of joy, the importance of happiness in one’s life other than the animal who has gone through a bad phase in his life?” He paused for a moment & glanced at Murphy, who was playing with the kids & fetching their things.

“We all come on this earth with a purpose in life. Every living being, whether it may be an animal or a human, is given a certain purpose to live with. I consider that your dog has found his motive, his aim in life. He knows he is happy with those kids. He wants to give out love, joy to all such children who are suffering a lot in their life. Won’t you like to let your dog go & live his purpose? He will be joyful in it. He will live his entire life giving out more & more happiness & helping such kids.”

Kavya thought about what the doctor was saying. She knew that someday she will return back to her job, or some other in the city. Murphy will always be with her, but he may not be happy & joyful. He will still miss being here, being with the kids & helping them.

What if this is his purpose?

That night, she couldn’t sleep.

She kept thinking about what the doctor had told her, but her mind was not ready to let him go. She had loved him; he had brought a lot of change in her life. They both had a very good bonding.

But this may be his purpose. She had given all the love, affection that she can to him. But ultimately, his happiness, his joy was important for her.

She thought a lot about it.

And finally, she took the decision.

The next day, she informed Dr. Abhay that she is ready to let him go.

After spending the whole day with Murphy, at night, Kavya just laid on bed with her dog. She had a feeling Murphy knew that the next day, he will be gone away from her forever.

The next morning, Dr. Abhay called her & said he is at the gates.

“Time to go…!” Kavya said as she tied Murphy’s belt to his collar & took him down.

“Hi. Meet Dr. Ibrahim. He’s a neurologist in Germany with a good experience in handling service dogs.” Downstairs, Dr. Abhay introduced her to his friend.

Dr. Ibrahim shook hands with her & gently patted Murphy on his head. Kavya handed over Murphy’s medical files & explained to him his medicine, food schedule & his favorite things.

“Can I take some time, please?” Kavya asked to which both of them readily agreed.

As she saw them walking towards the gate, she bent down & sat in front of Murphy. He raised his right paw to her.

“Thank You Murphy for all the wonderful moments that we shared together…! Stay nice and cool…and take care of yourself. Don’t play too much, OK? Now go.” She said as she removed his leash.

Everyday, Murphy used to happily jump all the way to the compound wall whenever Kavya took him to the park.

But today, he walked slowly. He knew he will never meet his original owner again. It was difficult for him to leave the person who gave all the love & affection to him, but his duty as a dog was equally important. As he walked towards the gate, he stopped & looked behind.

“Come here…!” Kavya called him. Murphy ran towards her, & both of them hugged each other. She then recalled the first day she had seen him, tired & lonely on the streets of Delhi. Tears welled up in her eyes as she remembered all the wonderful moments she spent with him.

“Goodbye, dear one…! Goodbyes are difficult, but I am happy you will live a very good life…!” she said to him, “Now go….and don’t you look back again…!”

As Murphy walked till the compound wall, Dr. Ibrahim opened the van’s door. Murphy hoped inside without looking back once.

With his leash in her hand, she ran towards the gate, hoping for the last time that her dog would be standing there, waiting for her.

But he was gone.

That moment, Kavya felt that a part of her body was gone & for the first time in her life, she wept bitterly.

“Ma’am, we will start the function shortly.” The event manager came and told her.

Kavya nodded with a smile & looked at the letter again.

It was a testimonial she had received from Dr. Ibrahim. Murphy was felicitated by the German Animal Welfare Association for contributing & helping differently abled kids to live a nice & happier life. The Association had also given a special mention stating that the dog was a quick learner, & had overcome his illness, stating a good example for others.

There was a printed photo of Dr. Ibrahim & Murphy, with the honorary medal around Murphy’s neck.

“You still are the same, Mr. M.” Kavya said smiling.

“Ma’am, the book prints are ready. This is the first print.” The event manager said handling her the published book.

Kavya took the book in her hand & gave a nice smile while looking at the cover page.

“I have seen it. Everything’s OK.”

Saying this, Kavya handed the book to the manager & went inside the auditorium.

The event manager saw the title of the book.

It was named “Murphy” with a dog’s picture on the cover page.


Mangesh Shirke

An Architect by profession, Mangesh has a passion for writing stories & is writing for the past almost 4 years. He loves to read, loves to watch sc-fi, thriller & mystery movies. He tries to put an a touch of human emotions in all his stories.

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