“Hello, my lovely people, I’m Simba, a dog and this is my, and my human, Shivani’s story about our fight against domestic abuse. We suffered, mentally and physically at the hands, and fists, and feet of Sunil. But Shivani, tired of the abuse, revolted, and decided to … wait, I get ahead of my story. Let me start from the beginning.
I cowered in the corner, whimpering, wishing I could do something, but my tiny body couldn’t keep the danger away. I tried, I really did, trying my best to protect Shivani, but I knew that my nips were ineffective. I lay in the corner, the kicks to my abdomen burning fire through it, but still, trying to get the strength to bark. Shivani screamed, when her head hit the wall. I understood their body language, I knew Sunil was mad and he used his fists to beat her. She lay in a pool of blood, not responding to my nudges, as I, tentatively, tried to lick her into consciousness. Sunil, on noticing my actions, kicked me viciously.
“Move away from her, you mongrel” he screamed at me.
I backed away, watching him carefully for any incoming blows. Soon, he left us alone. I moved towards Shivani, trying my best to rouse her, licking her while she moaned. She got up, gingerly, touching her head, keeping one hand on me, petting and comforting me.
“It’s okay, baby, I’m okay. Let us see if I can get up and take it from there.”, she whispered to me, spitting blood from her mouth as she tried to get up. After a few tries she got up, made her way to the bathroom, with me, at her heels, and I saw her examining herself. I could have told her, if I could talk, that she had a split lip, a black eye.
“Nothing seemed broken, Simboo boy”, she whispered as she walked out, to the fridge, the sesame-door-of-goodies, and took out the ice tray, that I knew, she always kept stocked for such emergencies, took out a handful of them and handed some cubes to me. For me, Shivani, and I, being bashed up, always had a silver lining in my puppy brain – the ice cubes, she gave me at the end of such episodes. I licked her hand, thanking her, while she wrapped the ice cubes in a towel and held it to her face, while I played with my ice cubes.
I knew that each time Sunil hit us, he would feel contrite, and act very sweet. And I, as a puppy, looked forward to this part, where I would get my monthly-bone from him. And he didn’t disappoint us, that evening, on returning from work, Sunil got flowers, sweets and a juicy bone for me. I heard him whisper soft words to Shivani. I could get a few words here and there, “bad” being one of them, I knew Sunil had been a bad boy, and like how I do, was making up for his mistake, by buying stuff for Shivani.
“Would have been better to find a dead rat, and lay it on her feet, than those vile smelling things he has got. Though, I wouldn’t mind a little of the barfi my way!”, I thought, “Humans are weird. They hit, they say sorry, they repeat, but never learn”, and I went back to chewing my bone, over the sounds of promises being made to never do it again.
I was taking a nap near the window, when I was woken by the pigeons, cooing. I spotted Shivani, lying on the couch, fiddling, with her mobile, and was laughing at something she was watching. I love the sound of her laughter and can recall several incidents, when I was a young pup, Sunil and she would share such moments. He always made her laugh, tickling her, and telling her jokes.
“Though, he never paid attention to me, and would always tie me up when Shivani would go out. I didn’t like being tied up. He would always disturb me when I tried to sleep, and if I nipped at his hands, he would hit me and complain about me. Even then, I tolerated him, because Shivani loves him. And I love her too much, and I never want to hurt her”.
I sighed, and moved closer to her, and lay my head on her feet. She used to be so happy those days, smiling, singing while working on her chores. One time she held me by my front paws, and we danced to some rhythm in her mind. I loved those times. Shivani didn’t laugh much these days, and if she did, it was far and between.
It all changed when Sunil began to hit her. And abuse her – tongue lashing, as well as physical lashing. He would lock the two of us for days, taking her phone away. She would feed me with whatever scraps were at home, not bothering to eat herself. Sunil wouldn’t let her go out of the house or even meet her mother, and he would constantly berate her, humiliate her. He used to accuse her of having affairs with delivery boys, watchmen, any man, anywhere. She was always under assault – sometimes it was verbal, and more often than not, physical. I could see the effects of the mental torture on Shivani, she began to withdraw, and became quieter, rarely smiling. I tried my best to protect her when Sunil would hit her, and sometimes I failed. More often, I would fail, my inability, frustrating me.
One day I saw Sunil pouring the yellow liquid into a glass. He already smelt drunk, as per me, and was going to smell weirder, as he kept drinking from the bottle. I looked over at Shivani, and understood from her body language, the distress signals. I moved in closer to her, trying to keep her spirits up, nuzzling her, keeping my head on her lap, letting her caresses calm me, and her. I started to feel anxious, knowing the dance of pushes and punches will soon be upon us, as Sunil guzzled down the yellow liquid. I could feel the fear and trepidation in Shivani rise, and I knew that I must, I had to, protect her, at whatever cost. I moved in even closer to her, alert, waiting.
And I didn’t have to wait for long, Shivani took a tad bit too long to get the yummy food on the table, and was rewarded by a cracking slap, and few curses. A low growl started in my throat, Shivani looked at me, and gave the hand signal for keeping quiet. I was in immense turmoil, training or instinct.
Training took over, as I lay quietly and watched the scene unfold. Sunil’s taste buds were dulled by the smelly yellow water and he thought the food she had prepared was tasteless. I would have disagreed, if I could, I had surreptitiously taken a healthy lick from his plate. And it tasted just fine to me, Shivani was a great cook. But Sunil got angrier, threw the plate on the floor and dragged her towards the hot place where she cooked. I immediately grew alert poised to protect, but was put off by the stay hand signal.
Sunil pushed her to the hot place, and held her hand over the flame, I heard her, say, “Please, Sunil, please don’t. I am sorry, I won’t do it again”. She screamed, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I growled with all my strength, and leapt at Sunil. He was taken by surprise and let go of Shivani, and turned towards me. I had taken a piece of his pant leg in my mouth, and was tugging at it with all my power. Sunil tried to kick me off but I held on. I pulled at the pant leg, trying to get him away from Shivani. He kicked me away with force, and I hit the table. I was disoriented for a while, but bounced back to save Shivani. I growled loudly, jumped again at Sunil, who, now, was ready for me. He held me by my front legs and dragged me to the bathroom, where he threw me inside, and closed the door. I was locked inside, and I barked ferociously, I could hear Shivani’s painful screams. I kept barking trying to get him to stop, but he screamed, “Shut up mongrel!”. I had to get out – Shivani was in trouble and I had to protect her. I launched myself against the door but it wouldn’t budge. I didn’t care about the ice cubes or the juicy bones, I just wanted to be with Shivani.
After a long time, the door opened, and there stood Shivani.
“Come here, my baby. I’m okay, I’m okay”, she said, as I covered her face with kisses, and ran around her in circles. I was so happy to see her, on her feet, I carefully leaned against her, offering my support, and taking hers while she petted me.
Days passed peacefully, with no further beating. Till one day. “I’ll kill you, how dare you smile at him? ‘Oh yes, please, give me a call!’, isn’t that you said to him? Is this what you do when I am at work?”, Sunil screamed. I woke up with a start. I raised my nose to investigate the weird smell, and knew immediately, Sunil was drinking the noxious yellow water again, and this time, he smelt really bad. I felt this time, in addition to being drunk, Sunil was really angry, the anger coming off of him, in spades. I ran to Shivani, sitting by her feet, wishing this drama would just stop.
“Oh, now look! Your guardian’s here. I pay for all his food, all his vet appointments, injections, me!! But whom does he love? You! Well, obviously, he’s a male and you seem to have made it your life’s business to attract the males, wrap them around your little finger. That is why he’s always stuck to you.”, Sunil shouted.
I couldn’t figure out what he was saying, but I knew that the anger, this time around, was accompanied by evil, maleficent evil. His body language was screaming its intent to harm Shivani, and I was prepared to defend.
“Down, Simba. Stay.”, she commanded, as I went flat on the ground, eyes on Sunil, keeping him in my sights. Ready for action. I could feel Shivani’s mood. She, too, gave off different vibes, weary, yet strong. Tired of the unfolding scene, and willing to stop it. I growled.
“Quiet, Simba, down”, she ordered, instantly quietening me. I lay down, holding my position but quivering, my instincts on fire, to protect.
When he hit her again, I couldn’t take it anymore, I sprung up and jumped at him, putting my entire adult weight behind the attack on Sunil’s hand, managing to get a bite, but Sunil kicked me across the room. Shivani screamed, fear rampant in her voice.
“Simba, no!!! Stay down.”
I lay on the floor, panting heavily, waiting to pounce.
“So obedient, he is, your dog. He’s ready to attack ME. Look what he did to my hand”, he showed his scratched hand to his wife, missing the irony of the situation. Using the same hand, he wrapped it around her neck, applying pressure. I could feel the changes in her breathing pattern, and I twitched in my holding position, not wanting to stay still anymore.
I saw her bite Sunil’s arm, and in a hoarse voice, yelled, “Simba, fetch the toy from the cupboard! Go.”. I knew what she wanted, I ran from the room as Sunil started to throttle her.
We had been practicing this trick for months, she would hide several toys, all over the cupboard, and I had to sniff them out, and find the special one and bring it. We had tried this trick with many variations, hand signals or vocal commands. Sometimes, the toy was hidden, way behind the clothes or in different boxes. But I got it every time. She taught me several other tricks, too, like retrieving her mobile. I had loads of fun, just her and me. I could have never guessed how important these training sessions were, and what they would mean, when our lives were in danger.
This time around, I could sense the urgency, the danger in her voice. I tugged at the rope hanging at the wardrobe’s door, hung for this explicit purpose, and opened it, quickly looking for the special toy. I could feel Shivani’s distress, which added an edge to my own search.
Finally, I spotted it and ran towards her and handed it to her, and switched to the holding position. An alert sit-stay. I watched her carefully. Sunil was trying to squeeze her neck, and this time she had the toy in her hand. Her hands gave the signal; my cue for action. I leapt at Sunil’s ankle, and got a big bite off it. In pain, he let go, in pain. Shivani, not wasting any time, attacked him with the knife.
“Move one step towards me and I will tear you up”, she screamed, “I am tired of being slapped around, and it stops right now. You touch me one more time, and you will never move again!”.
Sunil, never one to heed any advice, moved angrily towards her. She raised the hand, holding the knife, back, and brought it down on his arm. It must have taken a lot of strength, but fuelled with anger and self-preservation, she managed to do it.
“Aaaahhh! You stabbed me? You actually stabled me? Is this why I have been buying you things, keeping you in my house, for what? So you can stab me?”, Sunil thundered, surprised that Shivani could take such a step.
“No, I stabbed you, because you tried to kill me. And you have been hitting me, in every possible way.”, she turned towards me, “Fetch the mobile, Simba”. I handed it to her, and she dialled some helpline, “Hello, police…?”.
After some time, I could hear a persistent sound. My ears perked up at them! Then the doorbell rang, Shivani still holding the knife, at the now, cowering Sunil, opened the door to allow a few men, wearing brown hats, and a lady to enter. Sunil lay on the floor, moaning. They were followed by some people in a white rolling, what seemed to me, a mobile bed. They looked at Sunil’s white face, and moved him on it, and took him away. The woman who accompanied them, spoke to Shivani, took the knife away from her and sat with her for a while, and then both of them left for someplace, leaving me alone, and confused.
Sunil was arrested by the police, after being treated for his wounds. A court case was filed against him, and he remained in jail. For someone who would tie dogs up, and torture them, karma did catch up!
I loved my new life minus Sunil, where I stayed with Shivani and her mother, my grandmother. We stayed in our house, where finally there was peace. I never laid his eyes on Sunil again, good, no great, riddance! Every day, I could feel the positive changes in Shivani. Her strength, her ability to stand up to Sunil, and the shock on his face restored her faith in herself.
One day, she took me to a large house. I saw several women there, some were bruised, some crying. I could sense their distress, agony and helplessness. Shivani, spoke to many of them. Sometimes, I would see new women there, sometimes the older ones returned, each time with new bruises and some I never saw again. Each of them got a hug from Shivani, and if permitted a lick from me! She would encourage them, and I could sense a spark of hope in them. Some of them would hug and pet me, and I would keep my head on their knees, when I sensed their sadness overwhelm them.
One of them always said to me, “I wish I had married you, Simba, instead of that brute. You are more human, being a dog, than he ever was, being a human.”.
I would lick her hands, not able to understand her exact words, but I understood what she meant, her emotions reaching me clearly.
“Now, I’m old, and we still go to the centre. I tire more easily, watching, being content. Shivani is upset at my failing health but I wish I could just tell her how much I enjoyed being with her, our life together. How much I love her, and how much I would miss her, and how she would always be in my heart. I wanted to be her knight in shining armour, but it was she, who, ultimately saved me. If only I could talk…”
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