The Young Mother A Short Story By Varalotti Rengasamy “Ma, Ma, see what have I brought home?” Harini came running out to see her eleven year old daughter who had just returned from school. “Vishalini, what the hell is this?” “See, Ma, how cute it is! It’s very young – may be just born. I saw this on the roadside. There was nobody to attend to it. It was making strange sounds. It was so lovely, Ma. Will you please let this stay here along with us?” Harini was staring at the cute little thing. It was a blackish pup, so new to the world and looked so vulnerable. Though it was found in the street, it looked like a pedigree animal. Harini did not fail to notice her daugther’s eyes overflowing with affection. She was not very fond of household pets; but she did not mind them either. ‘May be’ she thought,’ I could use this pup as a bait to see that Vishalini eats well, goes to bed on time. And more than anything else a pet would mean that Vishalini would spend less time before the idiot box. But there was one emotional consideration that outweighed all other logic. Vishalini had had a congenital heart problem and had already undergone two surgeries. Though she was perfectly normal and had been cleared to live a normal life, the Doctors had warned against any shock, disappointment or any excessive emotion. So Vishalini’s parents never had the heart to refuse whatever she wanted. “Vishal, I will allow you to keep it on one condition that you should have your dinner on time and should not watch TV after nine. Okay?” “Okay, Ma. Thanks a ton, Ma.” Vishalini called up her classmates who had dogs at homes to enquire about the best food for pup. She proclaimed to her whole class that there was now a new addition to their family – a just born pup. It was Friday and Vishalini did not have any homework to do. She spent all her time with the pup. She named it Sue and showered her affection on the helpless animal. The pup which had been orphaned a little while ago, gratefully reciprocated the affection in its inimitable style. Vishalini was in a state of ecstacy. She had her food before her pup. She did not watch TV that night. And she had to be coaxed to bed as late as Eleven. When her Dad came home from work she ran to show off her prized possession. If Rishi was not happy with the new addition he did not show it and gallantly played along with his only daughter. “I am very happy to see Vishalini so excited about the dog. But I am also worried, Harini. If somebody should claim this pup or something should happen to it, Vishalini would be upset. She would be devastated. Remember what the Doctors said. Any shock or disappointment might be dangerous for her heart.” “But, Rishi, I have never seen her so happy. Let’s give her what she wants. If somebody comes forward to claim the pup let’s talk to that person, give him lots of money to keep him quiet. I don’t want to lose the pup at any cost. I can’t bear to see tears in her eyes. It’s our responsibility to see that nothing happens to the pup and any claim for the pup is settled by money – lots of money, if required.” Rishi nodded in agreement. “Let’s take the pup to a Vet tomorrow to have it examined. I don’t think there would be any claim.” Rishi was proved wrong the very next morning. Vishalini was still asleep. Rishi was reading the newspaper while Harini was busy in the kitchen. The puppy was playing in the small garden in front of the house. There was some commotion in the entrance. Rishi ran out to the gate. A dog was howling at the house. The dog had seen the pup and was persistently barking. It tried to climb the gate and was scratching the steel gate with its front paws. The ruckus was unbearable. Harini also ran to the gate and was staring at the dog. It did not take long for them to guess the reason. The dog was the pup’s mother. She wanted the pup back. Rishi and Harini exchanged meaningful glances. Rishi said in a stern voice. “I won’t let the dog have the pup. I will drive the dog away. Let me see, the dog does not have any licence or strap around its neck. Should be just a street dog. I will call the city authorities and have this thing captured.” “You are right, Rishi. I don’t think Vishalini can bear to lose the pup. My friend at the Ladies club knows a person who can take this dog away. Let me call her right now.” In another thirty minutes the dog-capturing team arrived at the scene. They had a long spear-like instrument and a sturdy net. They surveyed the area and were about to start the operation. The mother-dog was still adamant and was persistently barking in the direction of the pup. Vishalini had woke up just then and with a sleepy eyes came to the gate. “What’s happening Ma?” Harini told about the dog’s visit and assured her child that in a matter of minutes the dog will be disposed off so that Vishalini can have the pup for ever. “Is this dog the pup’s mom?” “Looks like that, dear.” The next moment Vishalini ran to the pup, carried it in her hands, went to the dog and placed the pup near her. She was returning with a frown in her face. “Ma, I took the pup home only because there was no one to care for it. Had I known the pup had a mother I would not have as much as touched it. “But what’s this Ma? How can you do this to the dog? The dog is also a mom like you. If I am late from school how much do you worry? Would not the dog have the same feelings towards its child? “Ma, just tell me how would you feel, if some one took me away and kept me in their house; and when you come there to see me, if they tried to harm you, to capture you and hurt you? “Are we not doing the same thing to this poor dog? It’s not fair, Ma. Let the pup go.“ When Vishalini spoke with tears in her eyes, Harini could not control herself. She hugged Vishalini and was sobbing. It appeared that for a moment the mother-daughter roles were reversed.