Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tequila and the Snake Poison Man

Eyes of liquid gold. Destroyer of daisy beds. Duchess of the Drm Bungalow. Floppy eared rabbit. Little licking devil.

It's hard to tell all of these names apply to a little dachshund with shiny brown skin and cuervo gold eyes. Much has been written about Tequila and her little brother Mowgli on this blog. But it's hard to believe neither one of those little devils is around any more.

Just yesterday my mother absentmindedly admonished my father for putting his hand below the dinner table while she was on the phone. She thought he was feeding Tequila yet again!

Tequila was our 1st pet (if you don't count all my imaginary ones including pumpkin, my chimerical dog). My mother fetched her from a colleague one morning around the 1st week of December. She was barely a month old, and understandably disliked her little bed on the floor.

I arrived home from college to be surprised by the entrance of the daintiest little dog in the whole world. At night i would sneak her into my bed, and soon the only place she'd sleep would be our beds! My mother was trying to find a name for her, ranging from Daisy to Chrysanthemum - all the flower beds she chewed and stomped all over with her little paws.

My friend R who was visiting, and had a Cuban connection decided Tequila was a good name for her. Tequila it was. Tah-keeh-laah according the forty odd souls who looked after the bungalow. Word spread fast, if one were to curry favour with Sahib and Memsahib - the route was here. If Tequila liked you, you had instant access. If she didn't , the guards at the gate, nor Ramu the "House Manager" could help.

Tequi as she was soon referred to - nothing to do with little insects that plague dogs, was every bit the top dog. She ruled the house, the gardens, the paddy fields and of course, our hearts. All the crows that had drunk water from the garden fountains for several generations found themselves chased by her. The same goes for the monkeys that used to frequent the lichee and jamun trees. Our Dhobi's son found his already tattered clothes further damaged. The living room carpet which was for constant use soon found disuse as she zealously worked on the tassels with her sharp little teeth.

Her friends were many - right from the visiting out of town dignitaries who threatened to adopt her if my father didn't find one just like her, to Singhji, a bearded old man who came twice a week to put out the bottles of Snake poison. Even before the guard at the gate rang on the old winding phone, we knew he had arrived as Tequila made a mad dash for the gardens!

Just like every whimsical girl, she too had her moments. Like the time she sneaked out from my mother careful watch and came back from the paddy fields - soaked, muddy and smelling of something other than the buffaloes. Further investigation revealed she had found a skunk for company. I am not surprised skunks don't have too many friends. Tequi despite a couple of baths was in danger of being given up for adoption thanks to the odour from Stinky.

Then there was the time she spent an afternoon locked inside with us, while we took siestas in the long, faineant summer afternoons. I woke up and reached for the book I was reading - only to find that Tequi had chewed off the cover, destroyed the foreword, but somehow left the label that said it was a prize awarded to me in college intact! I could have killed her - but what do you say to a little dog, who sits amongst the remains of your book, and strangely enough doesn't ruin the part you consider most important?

Like all good things that come to an end, Tequi's sole reign ended with the arrival of Mowgli. Their love -hate relationship is another long story.

My grandmother always said Tequi was more than a dog. Extremely discerning about her likes and dislikes , once S. , one of the maids asked my other rather sadly, 'how does she know I am the help'? Unlike Mowgs who ate everything in sight, Tequi was very finicky. The test of a sandesh was whether Tequi ate it - if not, it was probably doggy, sorry dodgy!

The same deeper wisdom was to reveal itself more recently. A week before my mother was to leave for the Netherlands to prepare for the arrival of baby N. , she had a minor domestic crisis with the help vanishing all at once for a couple of days etc. My parents worried about who would look after Tequi if the maids didn't return. One evening after her usual walk with my mother, usual biscuit with my father, she was lying on her favourite sofa, and produced a sudden yelp. Without a fuss, she decided to make things simple for my folks, as she made her way to the Happy Hunting grounds.

So if you look up and see what looks like two dachshunds playing in the sky, throw them a biscuit, because those are two great dogs!