City Obituary  - Sona, Ghaziabad

City Obituary – Sona, Ghaziabad

Passing of a community dog.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Did he slip away on his own free will? Or did somebody whisk him away? The second possibility seemed more likely to his human friends. After all, the serene Sona was such a handsome dog. Who wouldn’t want him? There was so much depth in his eyes; it was trance-like to see one’s own image in them.

About a week after his disappearance early this month, the roadside drain started emitting a stench. It was Sona’s decomposed body. Nobody knows just how he met his fate. Suffice to say he went away as mysteriously as he had come. Sona had surfaced three years ago from… nobody knows where.

Sona could not be called a street dog because there is no real street in this Ghaziabad suburb. The roads are wide and straight, serving as passages to access the multi-storied apartment complexes. Each vertical block of concrete in the sector here is like an autonomous principality, with high walls patrolled by uniformed guards. The black dog lived in this seemingly impersonal world.

While a loner, Sona was looked after by the residents of the Vasundhara Valley Apartments. His daily meals come from a few flat owners within the housing towers. Not that he was fussy about khana. Sona mostly consumed doodh, according to guard Ram Avtar. The dog lived by the gate (always outside the society), frequently snuggling under the guard’s chair for quick naps. In winter afternoons, he would curl up in a spacious basket swaddled with woollen blankets—that was Sona’s private residential complex.

One monson afternoon, two years ago, Sona was ambling along the pave, busy with himself, much like an only child learning to be their own sibling. He trotted to a rain puddle, gazing at his reflection. Then he nosed through the wayside bushes, as if looking for something.

Late last year, he was seated on the dusty pave, looking as noble as Bagheera in Kipling’s Jungle Book.

The residential complex has a temple within. Its priest, Pandit Ram Shastri, now walks to the gate, and waves towards a stretch, pointing out Sona’s burial spot. “We covered him in a white sheet.” He adds: “Every morning I would give him Parle-G biscuits.” Guard Santosh walks to the priest, sympathetically muttering, “The end comes to us all.” An apartment resident shows a recent mobile phone photo of Sona to the priest, who, too overwhelmed to speak, simply nods, lowering his eyes.