A white Labrador bitch occupies the first-floor veranda of the house opposite. Her name is Sony (or Soni?) – like the corporation, or like the teacher from Chhatisgarh who was humiliated by the Indian police for suspected collusion with Naxalites.
Sony the bitch is alone for most of the day, though she does have a view of the road, and of the arthritic mongrels that bay at her when she is in heat. Sony is, in fact, in heat at present – or so I presume, on the evidence of the number of dogs assembled before the house, their snouts training, like cannons, at her odorous body.
At ten p.m. another Labrador is introduced to the veranda. I hear a woman from within cooing at the pair, and I think of the inane romances in Kannada soaps – and how these stories are worked insidiously into our lives, so that even the prospect of two dogs mating is imbued gently with an awkward song, a leering dance.
The dogs are, as it happens, left to their song and dance. Sony, though friendly towards the dog, is not interested in giving him a view of her arse. He barks, protesting – at what? – her arrogance? her disinterest? Protesting, anyhow. The dog, as far as I can tell, is the first companion of her ‘own species’ that Sony has had in months (at least since her last heat). He will be gone in the morning, but will likely return if the owners believe that he has not done his job.
I’m tempted to feel sad for Sony the bitch. But I think – why, and on what basis? I am, after all, sitting in a similarly sized room across the street from the dogs – and am, in a sense, just as captive. I may have a view of the veranda but I know close to nothing of Sony’s thoughts, or what she feels towards the dog when she chooses not to let him mount her. In fact, these words – like ‘thoughts’ or ‘feeling’ – may not even be applicable to a bitch’s life. Who am I to feel sorry for Sony, or indignant at what I think may be her loneliness, her humiliating encounters with dogs and humans? Who sanctions these trivial interventions, these judgements about things moral or immoral, cruel or not cruel?
On some days, I think that all comparisons – and, thereby, all metaphors, similes, and the bulk of literature and art – derive from ignorance. The notion that one life is more advantaged than another, that the dog in the street is happier than the bitch in the cramped veranda – is conjecture. If I believe it, and you believe it, this is because our ignorance cooperates, for the time being.