Remembering Happy/Julie/Goldy


Happy has been missing for the last five days. It could be even six. Nobody knows where she is. For the last two years she has made our lane and the adjoining ones her home. Everybody knows her. As I have gone asking people usually dog walkers, security guards and temporary labourers about her, I have realised that she has been very popular and called by different names like Julie and Goldy. I smiled when I heard her being addressed as Julie and why not, just as the name sounds, she is a posh lady-like creature. 

Nobody seems to know where she is.  Everyone, i.e. the concerned ones, are speculating where she could be. Nobody has seen her being taken away by the animal NGO van (after all she was sterilized at birth) or the municipal authority (but then why would they only take her when rest of the strays are happily roaming about and in fact there are some new faces too?) or have seen her breathless body.

In the past, I have gotten to know about the fates that our lane strays have met eventually but I am yet to hear about Happy.

“I am sure she has gone to the moon, mummy?”  my daughter said as we walked last night from our lane to the other to feed another old stray. I smiled thinking how she had started to mix reality with fantasy to justify Happy’s vanishing act.  But only to realise a minute later that there was no fantasy involved in her newly developing logical mind.

“Do you know Lalita?” she asked.

“I don’t.”

“The dog who was sent to the moon by the scientists?”

“Wasn’t she called Laika?” I asked.

The daughter was least interested in arguing about the real name.

She continued:

“May be some scientists took Happy away too to send her to the moon.”

I looked at the moon.

“Maybe,” I said.

As I go to collect my daughter from the school bus stop daily I miss having Happy accompanying me. Her chasing small kids, cyclists and motorbikes away and at the same time wagging her tail endlessly was an amusing sight.I have never seen a dog wag its tail and bark at the same time before.

She has the most peculiar bark and just as my daughter has described in the poster below. She made some three missing posters hoping that somebody will tell us about Happy.



Over the last decade since I have seen many strays of our area come and go. I never had the courage to open my doors for them especially in times of rain and extreme heat as we share our building with two more neighbours. It was only about feeding them in the mornings and evenings. Of what they did the rest of the day was not my concern. Some times as I drive the car from the lane I see them looking for food in the garbage bins. After all, my one packet of biscuits for one dog a day is not going to keep their tummy filled for the rest of the day.

What have I learnt from Happy going missing? Nothing. Life goes on. Someday another dog will fill in Happy’s place. Perky, her mate, will have another mate. He will then not look at me with his pleading eyes asking me to search for Happy. Or perhaps he knows what happened to her as they were together most of the time. He looks at me helplessly knowing he will never be able to tell me the truth. .

I avoid reading articles that talk about the ill treatment meted to the strays in different parts of the city, country and abroad. I purposely avoid reading them as I feel utterly helpless. I remember my first job as a research assistant for an animal welfare organisation some 15 years ago. The founder, country’s most famed animal activist, said ” good for the pup!” when she was told that one of the strays that they had brought in her bungalow had passed away. I was fairly new then and didn’t know why she would say that. I thought she was being very mean. Now I know how wrong I was. This world is no place for strays.

I will wait for Happy and someday she will return. Older. Yet as pretty as ever. She would have stopped chasing motorbikes by then and would chide the younger dogs from doing what she did in her youth. 🙂



(Happy joining us to the park every evening)


(Happy enjoying the sand)


(Happy running with my daughter)


(Perky, Happy’s best mate)


(Happy enjoying the puddle)

The Name Game

My brother removed  ‘Singh’ from his name and I removed ‘Jyot’  from my first name many years ago. We took our decisions independently and at different times. I don’t have any regrets but now after nearly a decade of formally cutting short my name I do feel bad. Feel bad for making changes to a possibly colourful story behind the keeping of my name (of which I am unaware!)

I realized recently that a lot goes into naming a child. From what I understand about my name was that my late paternal grandmother kept it. She was one dominating force in her time. I can visualize everyone keeping mum, including my folks, when she must have held me in my arms for the first time and said my name. And that was it. No ifs. No buts. Simarjyot it was. Did my parents like it? I don’t know. They accepted it …maybe happily, as it was taken for granted then.

About ten years ago I met a woman whose little boy was called Siddhant but she kept addressing him with some another long name which I can’t even remember now. It didn’t even sound like a nick name like Sid, Siddhu, Golu, Molu etc. Soon she told me that Siddhant was the name of her choice and the other was of her mother-in-law’s choice. Since they didn’t want to disappoint her, they stuck to both the names! Talk about the child and identity issues! And more than that it explained the battle of the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law.

A friend of mine who is expecting her first child soon and her husband have decided upon the names for both girl and a boy. The dilemma? They have not shared it with their respective parents yet and don’t know what their reactions will be. The names, when I was told, could make ones ears point up. Lovely names though. There was this whole one long conversation I had with her over the phone a few days ago when she just fretted upon this issue. She only calmed down when she ended up telling the chosen names the next morning to her mother-in-law. It didn’t turn out to be a big deal as much as she vexed a night before. And I know she will be only completely satisfied once the names are registered after the baby’s birth.

Another close friend happily told us the name of his baby boy a few years ago only to tell us later that it had been changed and then changed again. Too many people were involved in suggesting the name of his child. So much so that he gave up in the end. It was perhaps another battle of the in-laws. I never asked him so who was it that suggested this name. Too personal matter.

The politics that goes into naming the babies especially in a society like ours where despite most of us living out of the joint family setup still feel out of decency and our upbringing to involve our elders in matters such as this is grave.

Besides the domestic politics, there is a deep analysis too that some do in naming their babies. A friend’s friend has refused to keep his daughter’s name Sita because he would not like to associate his daughter with Queen Sita of Hindu mythology, Ramayana who underwent miseries all her life despite being a pious queen and an avatar of Goddess Lakshmi. Who would have thought that the name Sita would be also deliberated upon! If such is the case then none would name their babies from folks and mythology be it for their  little girl or a boy as our mythical heroes and heroines underwent enough trepidation in life. Just name any one top of your head. Lord Rama? Being evicted from his own house followed by 14 years of exile and then a hard battle fought with Ravana! Ganesha? Had his head chopped by his daddy just for listening to his mummy? Draupadi, ofcourse is a no-no. She was humiliated way too much. Karna, the tragic hero whose life started tragically and ended in one too despite being a good soul through out.  Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, who waited for him most of her life while he travelled the world.

I wonder what the children of Hollywood celebrities think when they are named Apple, North (with a surname West), Dusty Rose, Shiloh etc. Maybe not any different from the rest of us as they have always been called that. Or they are trained to take on the burdens of being a celebrity right from their birth!

So for all those who think that they could have been named something else or like me shorten their names, or choose to be called by another name instead of the rightful one, think again.  Let us not be an anticlimactic factor to our very own story/process that went into keeping our names. 🙂


(image courtesy: