"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;" writes Robert Frost in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’. I was in a similar situation. Just that there were three roads instead of two. And the wood consisted of just a single Banyan tree plumb at the junction of the three roads. And to say the truth, I did not fancy any of the three roads, one lined with small shops selling groceries, hard ware and other odd and ends, one lined with small shanties and the third accompanying a gutter flowing with drain water sending out foul odors. The one interesting to this narrative however is the one with the shanties. For outside one of these shanties was the incident that made me curious.
Just outside one of the shanties was an electric pole and to the pole was tied a dog. Whether I passed through at dawn or dusk, noon or night, the dog was always there tied to the pole. The dog itself was none too interesting; just a mongrel, though a pretty clean one at that and could almost be called cute. Nor was the rope by which it was tied: just a normal jute rope. But what was curious was the fact that one would keep a member of the canine race tied up like that day and night. The dog did not look too dangerous and the only thing freely available to all citizens of our country was available to all dogs in general as well: freedom. In fact most dogs in the country have access to food and shelter as well, something that many of their human counterparts lack. But who said food and shelter are the most important things in life? Aren't there better things in life such as freedom and the right to vote for our favorite politician?
But we are not discussing politicians here. We are discussing dogs. So let’s get back to the topic at hand. What could be the reason for the dog to be kept tied up that way? Could the dog be a demon in disguise: a shape changing monster? And the rope an enchanted one cast by a sorcerer to keep the creature bound? Are the shanties and shops and Banyan trees just a facade to hide a school of witch craft and magic? Have I stumbled upon India's own Hogwarts? Maybe the animal in question is not a dog but actually a dragon. After all one should let sleeping dogs lie and never tickle a sleeping dragon. Or alternatively the dog could be a princess enchanted and held captive by a witch living in the shanty. This is getting interesting, isn’t it? It could very well be the theme for Danny Boyle's next movie 'Slum Bitch Billionaire'.
But wait. I think we have dwelt too deep into the realms of superstition and irrationality. Let’s return to the path of rationality and scientific temper. Talking of which I have often wondered what is scientific temper. I remember one of our lady politicians has had acid flung on the face of an IAS officer who had earned her displeasure. Would that qualify as a classic example of display of scientific temper? Hold on for a minute. I need to remind myself that we are discussing dogs here and not politicians. So taking a more scientific view point, this dog could be an alien that has tried to infiltrate our beloved planet. Our ever watchful Men in Black must have intercepted it and be holding it captive. Let us move on from science fiction to real science. Maybe it is a Schrodinger's dog that can be alive and dead at the same time unless constantly under observation. So the owners might have tied it up to ensure constant surveillance to prevent it from going from the state of being alive to the state of being dead between two successive observations .
Let us leave aside these conjectures and try to analyze the issue from the first principles applying pure logic. After all what good is a hypothesis that can’t be proved. What do people try to safeguard? Things those are valuable. So if we prove that the dog is precious then we have the valid reason for keeping it locked up. Here goes the logic. Dog is man's best friend. Diamonds are a woman's best friends. Both men and women are humans. Diamonds are precious. Hence dogs are precious. QED. Not so fast. We still have the anomaly to this theory. What about other stray dogs roaming freely. The free dog anomaly can be accepted if we find at least one diamond lying around in a trash bin. But I am not too enthusiastic going around sniffing trash bins to discover diamonds. That is the jobs of stray dogs (sniffing trash bins) and Professor Arindam Choudary (Discovering the Diamond in You).
Maybe instead of breaking my head over the issue I must take the government's help. What about a petition under RTI (Right to Information Act)? But then I am getting an ominous feeling about how this is going to fan out. The government would establish a commission under a retired judge who would spend 17 years conducting enquires and come up with a 1000 pages report that proves comprehensively that the animal in question is indeed a dog and that circumstantial evidence seem to indicate that the animal was kept tied up. And a dog's life being around 15 years, the animal would probably even be dead by then. If I wanted quick action I should probably get in touch with Maneka Gandhi and her people for animals brigade. They would just cut the Gordian knot. Here the Gordian knot would mean the knot around the dog's neck. The dog would be freed but the mystery would remain unsolved.
I still pass by the Banyan tree. The shanties are still there as are the shops. The dog can still be seen tied outside. The mystery still remains. Perhaps some mysteries in life are not meant to be solved. They are just there to intrigue mankind and simulate his thinking process. Thank God for these small mercies. How mundane and humdrum life would be without them.