While driving back home from college after a long day today, I saw from a distance a white mass lying on the road.
A polythene bag might have been dragged in by wind from somewhere, I first thought. Or may be a piece of a newspaper. Or a torn vest that was being used to clean a bike before getting dropped without the biker’s knowledge. I drew closer and saw it was a white dog. Minus life.
It was intact, its innards not spilled on the road. However, the jaw was gone, indicating a severe hit on the head. That’s it. Its time on the street was over. Its time to rummage through garbage was over. Its time to scare the motorcyclists was over. The curse of urchin’s life was over.
Every dog I guess must be dying in a similar fashion.
The dog waits at the edge of the road. He then looks at both sides, tentative and calculative. A vehicle closes in and he is afraid. He beats a hasty retreat on reflex without looking, but doesn’t get lucky this time. He is hit by another speeding vehicle. The death is usually so quick that in the next moment it lies silent on the tar, a stream of blood travelling on the hot road and thickening on the way. Flies are usually the first ones to reach the accident spot. Then the crows. And if you are lucky, the municipality.
Now juxtapose this with the death that came calling to the 89 people at AMRI Hospital Kolkata in the wee hours of that fateful day.
If you compare, there are only two things that are boring about the dog’s death: No one particularly to cry and make a scene and very dull pose while dying (almost all the dogs lie on their sides, their four legs in accusatory gesture, their jaws open and neck turned in obtuse angle).
But the dog’s death is usually quick and painless.
Back at AMRI hospital, people would have screamed their lungs out and cried for help. Those who were in the ICU must have looked with horror through their oxygen masks and seen the ghastly death closing on them, slowly. They must have tried to get up and failed. Some would have tried to run away to be lifted back to death by the billowing smoke. Some would have called their near and dear ones to let them know that they were dying (there is at least documentary evidence on this). Some would have tore away the support systems and bloods and salines connected to their bodies and run for that elusive life. Some might as well have jumped out like many techies did on a previous occasion and died a better, less painful death below.
For most, death came slowly. When you are fully aware that there is no way you can live. When your lungs start chocking on carbon dioxides and monoxides. When your eyes pop out and your mouth gasps for oxygen. When you listen to alien sounds of breath. When a unknown darkness smothers you and you can’t even move a leg.
Not withstanding the fascination that our Bollywood has with the death of dogs – “Shaitan, tu kutte ki maut marega” – I wonder if that should be changed to “Kameene, insaan ki maut marega tu“. Ha.