Diary of an Isolate.

14 Days in Quarantine

Day 2

“Everything I know I learned from dogs.” — Nora Roberts, Novelist

Even before the birds could sound their presence in the morning, a pack of dogs had arrived. They were of different age and sizes. I am not sure what prompted them to land on my doorstep so early, but it could have something to do with the piece of cake that I served another dog yesterday. Did a word leak out?

I dutifully entertained these sudden uninvited but cheerful guests with small pieces of the same cake from day before but they demanded more and I fed them more until all of it was over. They kept looking at me expecting that I would pet them to compensate for the inadequate quantity of cake and express my apologies, but it was too early in the relationship. It had just begun. So, I watched them instead and they watched me back until my neighbour — a women with a rowdy child — called the reception that there were dogs in the backyard and that they should be thrown out of the hotel complex at once.

Every evening, as a housewife in rural India sits down to lay food for the family, she sets aside three small portions — one for the cow, one for the cat and one for the street dog.

They arrive in time, like well behaved children, consume their share of the food and depart.

This connection between human beings and animals is strange. You can see them sleeping next to the homeless as if they could not find another place to sleep. A few weeks back I saw a beggar hand over a pack of Oreos to a street dog. Even I would not do that to my dog who I own and love much. I would rather eat it myself…

Cows give milk but dogs appear to be quite useless at first sight. Whole day their tongues sticking out releasing a strange liquid without stop. Their eyes lusting to love and their face waiting to be admired. As if everyone could be won over with love alone. What about cars and big houses and expensive holidays?

Although many act as hunters and guards and sniffers, it is in their company that we find a strange comfort. When Liela was diagnosed with cancer she sought the company of a dog — not another human being.

And then Shankracharya has said we are all one. Jesus and Mohammed said the same thing. Dogs, cows, lizards, insects — including the virus that has forced me to isolate.

The tall plants, the shrubs the trees and the sea and sand and mountains and sun and the moon and whatever we can see and what we cannot see is all one. In moments of loneliness such connections become obvious.

I can see the palm trees dance in the gentle breeze. Their large leaves reflecting the first rays of the sun in a majestic glow.

There is magic all around, I can observe. Am I a participant in this magic or a mere spectator? I cannot say.

I like dogs. My attitude towards them, in fact, changed dramatically when I realised that dogs have integrated into human societies so much that left to themselves — they would probably die. Centuries have passed since they started living with human beings.

Dogs remind us that all of us are capable of being loved. Including those who have committed ghastly acts in their life. They connect with us at an elemental level and are able to read our emotions and often react to them even before we become aware. Same goes for cats and cows and horses and elephants. Are we different from what and who we think we are? Can animals see in us — what we consciously ignore?

Results of first RT-PCR came today. One person has been found to be positive in our cohort of about 36 people. I am not that person. He has been already removed from the hotel and promptly sent to the ENT hospital Covid facilities. Next test is due after 5 days.

Someone asked me if I could describe the food provided at the hotel. I am actually ill placed to do so — as a one meal person — a vegetarian at that. Some of the food I have so far served to the birds, but mostly refused to accept — when it is left at my gate 4 times a day.

Another one asked if I could go to the beach. Or to the pool?

Given the conditions of the quarantine, it would be a crime to do so. An absolute non-negotiable isolation is expected which means staying within the concrete walls of the room.

When I wake up in the morning tomorrow, another day would have been successfully spent.

And a new one begun



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