I meet him every morning outside a small temple as I go for my daily morning walk. The lady priest of the temple feeds and cares for him but apparently he is not allowed to enter the temple compound. During cold winter nights he sleeps huddled close to the temple wall on dry grass. But sometimes when it is not so cold he sits in the middle of the road. On seeing me, sometimes, he gets up and comes near. I pet him for a few minutes. He wags his tail to show happiness and goes back to his favorite warm spot. Sometimes he does not get up and enjoys my petting in sitting position.
Occasionally he comes walking beside me for some distance and then veers off. He is quite detached and does not try to cling or beg for more petting. Not even once has he asked me to adopt him. He has the wisdom to know not to attach to anyone too closely. A local person told me that Rati Ram belonged to a family for many years. For some reason they suddenly moved away leaving him behind. Rati Ram was mortally crushed by this betrayal. He learned a new fact of life that one must never assume that attachments of this world will last forever.
On rare days when I do not see him in his usual place I miss my friend and wonder where he might be. But I just follow my usual path. Suddenly I sense his presence, look back, and find Rati Ram trailing close behind me. We sit down to greet each other with more warmth than usual. It is quite clear that when I do not appear at my usual time Rati looks for me.
I have not seen my friend for several days and I miss him badly. I hope he is not injured or dead, and if he is dead I hope he left his body peacefully without pain. I must go to the lady priest and ask her. If she does not know I must look around for Rati.
I named my friend Rati Ram for I feel it suits his character. Rati is a tiny tree seed used by jewelers as their smallest weight for gold, and Ram is one of the names of the divine animator who enlivens our bodies. This of course is the same Great Spirit that permeates every atom and tiniest living cell. My street dog friend reflected the highest and the littlest in a beautiful blend. For he had the humility of a tiny Rati seed and was filled with love and patience like Ram, the Great Spirit.
February 07, 2009