Dogs, Running and a Chase to Remember
It was 6 am on a December morning and the entire town found itself enveloped in the sweet arms of slumber. But I had neither rest nor sleep because I was on a mission. Today marked the first day of my running regimen and the end goal was to get a flat tummy in a month. To commemorate the auspiciousness of this rare event, I had even gone on a shopping spree the previous day and bought new shoes, a fitness watch, and a few other expensive treats that had no semblance of kinship with my fitness goals whatsoever. I reasoned that the guilt trip that followed would be lost in the ecstasy of the endorphins that were scheduled to be released the next day.
I woke up to the blaring alarm and sat on my meditation cushion, daydreaming about how I was going to seize the day. My broken relationship with my self-esteem ensured that I chewed on self-help books like they were dopamine pills, and there was one thing they all agreed on: If you want to achieve a goal, get up and run. And I was ready. To run!
Glowing in my expensive fitness armor, I started on the short path from my house to the nearby park. It was a beautiful morning. The first rays of the sun had just caressed the winter sky, making it blush with hues of pink and orange. The birds were chirping and I walked on, humming a tune, as if in solidarity with them, to the serene silence around, for there was not a single soul in sight.
However, I had to stop short in my stride, for in the middle of the road stood a pack of scrawny-looking street dogs. It was a pack of four and they stared at me menacingly.
Terrified, I stood frozen on the spot and contemplated my next move. I could not walk toward them because that would mean trespassing on enemy territory. Neither could I step back because as a child I had been told never to do that. To be able to outrun the dogs was out of the question. I knew that as a Homosapien, evolution had ensured that I was destined to be slower than my four-legged friends.
By a stroke of bad luck, my mission had transformed into a battle of the species and I was convinced of my eventual defeat. The devout Hindu in me, who otherwise made guest appearances only during deadlines or exams, vaguely remembered that there are thirty-three crore Gods in the Hindu canon and I stormed my brain to choose one to who I could pray, in this moment of need.
But the dogs had no patience for my plight. One of them let out a threatening growl and in a moment of panic, I stepped back. It was a fight or flight moment and being the coward I am, I chose flight.
Hence the chase began. I ran and the dogs ran after me. We circled the park, I threw pebbles at them with feeble yelps of shoo! doggy shoo! But they had no interest in being shooed off. I had neither aim nor enough adrenaline in my veins to shoo them away.
That day I ran like I had never run in my life. I ran like I was being chased by the witches of Mcbeth. My reflexes, blunted by disuse after years of being a couch potato slowly awoke from their slumber. My bladder, however, had other plans. You see, fueled by my aspirations of losing weight, I had drunk a lot of warm water prior to my run and my ambitions backfired. Aloof to the distress my legs were in, my bladder kept sending signals to my brain to evacuate on an urgent basis.
Betrayed in battle by a small bladder and my puny human legs, I naturally lost the chase. The leader of the pack bit me on my butt. This entire incident seemed like an act of karmic retribution and I felt I was being punished for some bad karma accumulated in a past life.
With the chase over, the dogs stopped a short distance away from me. They looked smug with victory. The walk of shame toward home was painful to say the least. But the universe had more humiliation in store for me. As I hobbled home, blind in my grief, I stepped in dog poop.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That incident made my conviction to sleep through my mornings only stronger and my fear of dogs, deeper. The dream to achieve a flat tummy slipped into oblivion like my watch slipped into the back of my drawer permanently. And I lived with my love handles, traumatized with a scar on my butt ever after.