It was getting dark and the horse-carriage had slowed down owing to heavy rain. The coachman tried to peer through the thick rain to decide the ‘road to be taken’. The irregular movements of the horse-carriage made the passengers jostle.
The horses neighed and slowed down further, it was impossible to pierce through the rain and continue to trot.
Dobby, the younger horse seemed to enjoy the rain, its heart was filled with romantic thoughts.
“How I wish Dhanno was here! Her warm hug is what I yearn for in this weather. My companion, the oldie, Sobby, is such a moron! The coachman could have got Dhanno instead of ….”
Samba, the coachman whipped them hard and with a loud neigh Dobby and Sobby accelerated their pace. Sobby was breathing heavily and was unable to keep pace with Dobby.
“Sobby uncle, he will whip us again if you slow down.” Dobby implored his senior.
“Dobby, I was as enthusiastic and as swift as you when I was your age. Your energies, fervour, abilities start depleting with age. Our masters are such insensitive, heartless beings. Soon I will be discarded and I will cease to exist for them. They will forget my service, my sinewy muscles, robust physique! Ah, if only I could put the clock back! The appreciation they heaped on me, the care they took to keep me fit and going, oh! for a glimpse of that golden era! And to top it all there was always a clamour among the family members to ride on me, to own me. The lithe body, the sheen… how they showered me with their love and care! And now they talk ill of me, they say humiliating things about me. The other day I heard my master’s friend suggest that I should be ‘dumped’ since I was a burden and not an asset anymore….” Tears that welled in his eyes trickled and flowed down along with the rain water.
No one would ever understand its grief and pain of being abandoned after being cuddled for so long.
Dobby felt the agony of his senior. Catharsis?!
He remembered all the stories his mother used to narrate about their tribe and how their clan had served human beings from time immemorial; domesticated or tempestuous, wild or docile, battle ground or stable, ranch or race course, every horse had a tale to recount, a story that would augment their pride, a story that would boost their self-respect.
Dobby remembered the innumerable stories of valour and resilience that marked the lives of Chetak, Maharana Pratap’s horse that was swifter than wind and Rani Lakshmi Bai’s Badal, that sacrificed its life to save her honour!
Dobby affectionate nod soothed Sobby’s anguished soul, “So what dear, whether our master acknowledges or not, we have found a place in the annals of history. Our good deeds have immortalised us.”
The coachman did not have to use the whip, the two horses galloped to their hearts content.
Author’s Note: A mere coincidence that I was a part of this book launch ‘The Tale of the Horse: A History of India’ by Yashaswini Chandra (a virtual one). The details of the author’s research stayed on in my mind, ever since. AprilFable brought out the lingering thoughts about horses. I have always found horses fascinating.
‘Chetak ki veerta’ a poem by Shyam Narayan Pandey, eulogizes the brave and loyal Chetak, Maharana Pratap’s horse that was a terror to the enemy army.
A commendable description of its swiftness:
“Rana ki Putli Phiri nahi, tab tak chetak mud jatatha…”
‘Badal’ was Rani Lakshmi Bai’s companion in the battle with the Britishers. She jumped on to the horse’s back from the fort wall and escaped form being captured.
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2 thoughts on “The Noble Companion”
Amazing combination. Sobby and Dobby so English but their love for Dhanno, their pride of being part of Badal and Chetak’s tribe, boosting them to retain their self respect.
Shashikala can spring surprises by drawing from literature and popular culture. Who would think of Frost’s Road Not taken and Dhanno in the same breath!.
She seems to have some crevices in her mind with these hidden treasures which she suddenly takes out to show the reader. To the uninitiated it is a time to just raise their hand and she will hold your finger to take you to those hiding places where only literature and fiction can provide escape.
I loved the moral in your story. Actually there could be several interpretations of morals in just one story. Another wonderful story from you.