Cost of Freedom – A Short Story

I remember fleeting glimpses of the house in which I was born. I remember a large courtyard with big trees. I would suckle milk from my mother along with my brother and sister. During night, I would cuddle into her tummy for warmth. On colder nights, a big man would cover all of us with warm blanket. During the day, he would hold and pet me. Two girls would often play with us. Curious to explore the surroundings, I would take few steps to look around. But, soon I would be scared and scuttle back to the safety of my mother.

Over time, I got used to the surroundings; each day I would wander off little further away from my mother. Of course, I would come back to her every time. I felt so safe with her. One day, I heard strange voices; I had never heard them before. I wasn’t too concerned as I was sitting close to my mother. She was licking me; I felt so loved and protected. After some time, the big man came with another man and a boy. I did not understand what they said, but I knew they were talking about us. I could feel my mother getting alert. They were looking at us closely. After few minutes, the boy pointed a finger towards me. In no time, I was gently taken away from my mother. She started whimpering. I was afraid; I did not know what was happening. I was put in a small basket full of soft clothes. The little boy picked up the basket and started walking away from my mother.

She continued to whimper, I could hear her for some time. After that, I encountered such strange noises and smells all around me. And I started moving, I was not walking, but I was moving. It was so scary. Oh my god! I was never so afraid before. I don’t know how long I moved, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I found myself in a new house.

Thus, began my journey with my masters – my grand master and little master. I was given a new basket to sleep in. It was all so new. Where was my mother? My brother and sister? And the big man? I missed my mother, her milk, her love and protection. I did not know where I was.

Gradually, I got used to the place and realized this is going to be my new home. The man and the boy loved my dearly. I began liking them. I shared the room with the boy. Soon, he became my friend. He was little older than me, but I knew I would soon catch up with him. I would go out with him for walks; he would play with me. After returning from school, he would give me my favorite snacks. I would sleep with him in his bed. Though I had my own bed, I loved sleeping cuddled against him. He called me his best friend. He would pamper me; I was free to do what I wanted to in his room.

But, my favorite person was the grand master. He would play catch-catch with me, he would hide my bone and I had to search for it. He would give me a treat after I found it. He would play tug of war with a rope. He was stronger than me, but as days went by, I gained strength. Few days, I would win in tug of war. He was such a gentleman; he would take his defeat with honor and give me a treat!  But, the finest part was the way he cuddled me and rubbed my chest. No one matched it, not even my mother.

One day every week was my best day, my master used to call it a Sunday. My grand master, his wife and little master would all be at home. Unlike other days, they were all relaxed. They would get into my grand master’s room and chat. I would sit along with them, unfortunately on the floor; I was not allowed to climb on to the bed or the recliner in that room. Still I so enjoyed their company and togetherness. We were all a family; I was the happiest at those times.

I missed only one thing, my freedom. I was not free to go out; as and when I wanted, where I wanted. Even when I went out, I was on a leash. I had to listen to the commands of my grand master or my little master.  During my walks, I saw several street dogs running, walking or lazing around. They were not on leash. Initially, I would look at them with surprise, how come they are so different?  With no leash, no master commanding them. Soon I realized, they were street dogs, they had no masters and no home as well. That meant some good as well as bad news. They had to fend for themselves, fetch their own food, which at times I am sure is difficult. They had to find shelter; they seemed to have difficult times during rains and cold nights. Still, they seemed happy, doing what they wanted to. At times, they would give me contemptuous look! They seemed to be saying, you foolish dog, see what we have and you don’t. You will always stay tied to the leash. Whereas we will live life on our own terms. We will never sell our freedom for food and safety. You sold your freedom!

I knew the street dogs were wrong. It was not only food and shelter. It was the love and affection that meant a lot to me. Both my grand and little master loved me so much. I knew they would do anything for me. But, soon I found myself craving for the life the street dogs lived. For few days, for one day… oh at least for few hours! I started dreaming about how I would live those few hours of complete freedom, how I would run around, free from a leash, on the road. How foolish I was? How I wish I had not entertained those dreams!

My grand master understood me so well. Very soon, he realized that I was craving for freedom. But, he could not give me the freedom I so sought for. I was free to run around the house. But, the road was full of machines – small, big, very big. They ran so fast making such huge noise. He was worried that that one of those machines would run over me; and would hurt me. He ensured that the front door of the house was always closed. One day, my grand master’s wife left the door open for few seconds and he scolded her so much. I felt bad for her, but I hoped that she would make the same mistake again.

She did not, but a domestic help did! One afternoon, it was all quiet in the house. Everyone was in different rooms. The domestic help forgot to close the door tight. There was a small gap. I pushed through it slowly and ran out. Few more steps, I was out of the house. And some more steps, I was out on the road. I couldn’t believe it. I was out on the road, without a leash, all by myself. Initially, I was walking slowly, then little fast. Finally, I was so overcome by joy because of my new found freedom that I started running. I started running wild, I was so happy. I was living my dream of freedom. Suddenly, I found a machine running towards me. It was a big one. I tried to turn back, step back, and stop. Its noise burst my ears; oh it hurt them so much. Before I knew what was happening, it was running over me. My whole body hurts… oh there is blood all over me. What should I do? Then I realized I was dying. As I took my last breath, I saw my grand master and little master’s smiling faces. I knew they would miss me.  How I wish I had not stepped out of the house? I wanted to tell them how much I loved them. How I wish I could tell them, I was not a bad dog. I was just a foolish dog, a dog that did not understand the cost of freedom!

“This story is dedicated to a beautiful Pomeranian that got accidentally run over by my car. I was sitting in the rear seat. I saw it dashing across the road. It was full of life, energy and joy. Before I could alert my driver and he could stop the car, we were already over it. I would never ever forget the dreadful moment in my life. I hope God would forgive me for this mistake.”

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