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Sri Vegan’s honour

What to worry about when your Labrador moves in different social circles

When Sundaram Mama storms into our house, it can mean two things. If the hour is early, Ambujam Mami is practising for her long-delayed arangetram. If it’s after sunset, it is to check if I have a spare quarter (the Indian kind). But this was midday. So I had to ask.

‘It’s that Sri Vegan,’ Mama said, looking like he did when he’d found out Mami’s month-long trip with the girls had been called off.

‘What’s the matter with him?’ I said. I loved the Lab like it was my own and fed him things that would never make it to Ambujam Mami’s menu. Much like I did Sundaram Mama.

‘I think Vegan has done some... er... unspeakable things,’ said Sundaram Mama, controlling a sob. ‘And it’s Govindaa-Go-Vinda, if Ambujam gets wind.’

‘Be specific, Mama,’ I said. ‘Is Vegan still refusing to learn Hindi? Has he suddenly begun reading my column? Has he insulted Kangana?’

‘I wish, pa, I wish,’ said Sundaram Mama. ‘Are you aware of Brownie?’

‘I am aware of them,’ I said. ‘In fact, I know a guy who knows a guy who’ll home-deliver a dozen ‘special’ ones at short notice.’

‘Go, pa,’ said Sundaram Mama. ‘Not those brownies. I meant Brownie. Singular. The... er... stray... on our street.’

‘Oh, that Brownie,’ I said. ‘Sweet doggie. What about it? Thinking of adopting?’

‘Ada, po, pa. Don’t rub it in,’ said Sundaram Mama. He’d gone from disconsolate to cross. ‘Our Sri Vegan has... er... I suspect... developed, how do you put it, an illicit relationship with that horrid Brownie. I received a few incriminating photos and a... er... video clip... of both of them in... er... situations that Pahlaj Nihalani would’ve never permitted.’

‘Congratulations, Mama,’ I said, offering my hand. ‘I think this calls for a party.’

‘Is this any time to joke, Shastri?’ said Mama, his face red, like the time Mami had caught us both at the neighbourhood pub during happy hour. ‘If my poor Vegan has gone and done those unmentionable things to that immoral Brownie, who obviously seduced our innocent boy, I can’t show my face in public, pa. Imagine what they’ll say during Margazhi... which is just around the corner.’

‘C’mon, Mama,’ I said. ‘They are young, unattached, in love. Let them be. We were young once, too, remember? Didn’t you once say you used to jump a ladies’ hostel wall...’

‘Why all those old stories now, pa!’ said Mama, cutting me off. ‘I’m very concerned. What if that wretched Brownie has a litter? And, you know, Vegan is implicated? How will I step into the club again?’

Mama, be logical,’ I said. ‘Your Sri Vegan is a Labrador. Originally from Newfoundland, Canada. He is bound to be more, how shall I put it, liberal, than us.’

‘Don’t generalise, pa,’ said Mama. ‘Akshay Kumar is also from Canada. But such a role model. Why can’t Sri Vegan be like him?’

I couldn’t argue with that.

Mama, don’t fret,’ I said. ‘This clip you got on WhatsApp will grow stale. No one will remember it in a day or two. And, most likely, Mami won’t notice.’

‘You think so?’ said Mama. He looked somewhat relieved. ‘But what if there is a litter?’

‘No chance of that, Mama. Rest assured.’

‘How can you be so certain?’ said Mama.

‘Brownie is a boy.’

This piece is dedicated to that upstanding Thiruvananthapuram man who taught his dishonourable Pomeranian a fitting lesson.

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a satirist. He has written four books and edited an anthology.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 3:03:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sri-vegans-honour/article29111184.ece

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