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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Lost Doghood
by Muhammad Nasrullah Khan

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At last the big and barren graveyard was decided to be the best and safe place for the decisive session of noble dogs. It was a unique event of dog-history that they were united and strongly convinced that everything in the human world was rotten, false and disgusting. Experience brought them to the conclusion that it was better to live in hell than in the human world. Now they all wanted to leave this brutish human society, but where to go? It was to be settled and they needed suggestions of great brains of sensible dogs. But alas! Many noble dogs failed to give practical suggestions - their brains had been wasted in other great philosophical issues like the absurdity of life and the meaninglessness of existence. They had disappointed the highest hopes of common dogs. But the positive point was that it was revealed to Tom, Heck and Herry that most of the philosopher dogs had just put on the mask of wisdom, otherwise they were not different from them, having the same stupid complexes and fears.

That night special arrangements were made to have a full-fledged meeting. Many of them were still frightened because the night before they had come across police, and many dogs were killed by brutish crossfire when they had just started their meeting in the open barren plain out of the city. The plain was normally a safe place but unfortunately that night police had brought some criminals to kill in police encounter. Next day when the dead bodies of those criminals appeared on newspapers, nobody thought about the dead dogs lying in the background. Not even a single human brain thought about the extra-judicial murder of innocent dogs. It happened many times that when police did not find any human targets at night, they killed such innocent dogs. These harmless creatures were never able to understand the cause of this cruel act. They could not understand the fact that police were jealous of their indifferent and fearless attitude. Once when dogs used to keep the order there was peace and security in human society. But when man became civilized and dogs were replaced by police all criminal activities started in the darkness of night. There were huge files of wise suggestions to reform the police, but nobody thought that that duty could be performed more efficiently by dogs. Dogs' sorrow was augmented by the remarks of the public when they would call the names of dogs to abuse the police - e.g. dirty dogs, son of a bitch or bastard dogs.

The graveyard was a safe place for them, because human beings are always afraid of their dead relations, which reminds them of God - they accept the existence of God but they never consider it pleasing to meet God. Dogs knew that weakness of man; therefore, they were quite at home there. Although the meeting was not due to start until midnight, the graveyard was filled with dogs. Latch, the secretary of the dog's association, was having a round of the place with his anxious eyes and wrinkled forehead. He was thin and weak, always ready to frown at a small disturbance. He was an intelligent dog with weak nerves. Whenever he was worried he would crush the hard earth with his soft feet. He never quarrelled with other dogs, all his anger was shifted to his own heart; all his life was spent being beaten by the rascal dogs, but he never scolded them. He would lie on the earth silently to be beaten. It was due to this quality that he was selected for this honorable post. He was even nominated for the Hoble Prize, the most noble title of dogs.

He had to work hard because many dogs blamed him for the tragic happening of the previous session. Honorable Hemlock, the president of this association, had also shown his displeasure.

At midnight almost all dogs had arrived at the meeting place. Now honourable Hemlock was awaited. Hemlock was seventeen years old, the most senior of them all. His life was spent in that graveyard. Due to his ascetic nature, he never indulged himself in worldly affairs - not even for any bitch. He knew very well that bitches led noble dogs to the lust of the world. He knew many great brains who could change the world, but that bloody love with bitches made them the most foolish and pathetic creatures of the universe. He believed that the major cause of madness and violence among dogs was due to bitches. Those who could have been the heroes of the nation were now mean sensualists. They had even forgotten the nobility of doghood. Hemlock's happiness was hidden in this simple rule; he never ran after bitches - he did not even allow bitches to attend the sessions of dogs, because he never considered them worthy enough to make any wise decision.

At last Rumpus made his particularly loud bark, which meant Hemlock had arrived to preside over the session. All dogs fixed their eyes on Hemlock. Hemlock arrived with his dignified personality - the dignity of not being touched by any bitch. Many years of aloofness had made his face very serene and solemn. His colour was black with white patches on his fatty neck. He had all the qualities of a pure dog, because he kept himself away from the human world. He was walking slowly with his graceful gait. When he arrived on the highest grave, all dogs stood up to say welcome. He slightly moved his tail and sat down silently. This time he seemed to be very dejected and gloomy, which might be due to his worries; he had no suitable alternative.

Feeble Gimlet started the programme by the permission of the leader of the house. Too much talk was not desirable, yet he kept on talking, saying again and again that he would not waste the precious time of noble dogs. As usual he uttered few words in praise of Hemlock. Hemlock looked at him with angry eyes. In the meanwhile Rumpus, who was very straightforward, asked him to come to the real issue. Gimlet realized his mistake, as it was his wont, and told them that they were not gathered for any ordinary matter, rather it was a matter of their honour and survival; they had lived with human beings for time immemorial and they had forgotten their own natural living. Once they were quite different when they used to live in jungles.

Jack was the special guest of that meeting. He was an intellectual dog with his empty belly, thin legs and dirty hair. Most of his life was spent thinking about the welfare of poor dogs. But he could not get any solution to the problems of dogs. In his disappointment, he came to the conclusion that dog's brain was limited and could not go beyond certain limits, therefore he left himself to the will of time and circumstances. He could not even spend a normal life. His intellectual thoughts stopped him from sexual pleasures, because he believed that to run after sensual pleasures was a human act, not a dog's. He had heard that man's sexual lust is never fulfilled, he even keeps on it with pregnant woman - it was very strange and disgusting for Jack. Jack used to spend his time out of the city near the hut of a poor peasant. He was in favour of the liberty of bitches and did not like the absence of bitches. This dual behaviour had made him very controversial. He was respected and loved by bitches but not more than this, because dogs were also like human beings and only the powerful could enjoy it. He was not in favour of such sessions but Gimlet convinced him to come and say something at that crucial time. Jack did not believe in such intellectual gatherings. He believed that great minds pass away silently, without stirring the surface of the sea of life. He believed that those who got fame and praise were not the genuine thinkers because they did not have the taste of depth.

He came upon the high grave with his slow and solemn gait. There was some strange dignity in his personality, which had added his enemies; because this grace was appreciated by the bitches. There was a rumor about him that once he spent a complete noon with one elite bitch, who was impressed by his thoughts. Many rascals had different opinions about this event. They said that Jack did not attract her, rather she wanted to have a change of taste, and it was a chance that the first dog she met was Jack. They also said that she was so disappointed by him that she dropped her romantic notion of having a boyfriend from the lower class. Therefore, Jack was also considered as a scar on the doghood. Anyhow, what was the relationship between the two, nobody knew.

Jack looked at the audience and said, "I don't agree with the idea of leaving human society suddenly. I think it is an emotional and irrational decision. We have been living with human beings for so many years that the evil habits of humans have become part of our personality. For instance, we have been divided into many groups; secondly, we have lost tolerance and cannot survive hunger even for one day. Thirdly, we have, like humans, made half of our population ineffective; they are of no use except on particular days. Above all, we have been helping human beings in hunting wild animals. I do not think we will get any acceptance from them. I believe once dogs were as brave as wolves, rather they are the real dogs. Now we have become very lethargic and lazy. We are now merely pie-eaters while living with human beings. I think we should wean ourselves away from human society gradually. Man has made us dry and dull. Now we have nothing of which once we were proud. Now we have only one quality, that is to wave our tales. All the creatures of the universe laugh at us. We are now laughing stocks. We were fond of getting the title of loyalty, and for this we sacrificed everything - even our own identity. Now we are identityless creatures - good for nothing. We have all those qualities of a damned creature - called man."

After Jack many dogs were invited to speak and they all recommended the idea of leaving at once.

At the end honourable Hemlock came to give the final decision. He thanked all the dogs and said, "I do not condemn our ancestors for joining man. At that time man was really a man, quite unlike the present dirty and lustful man. He had a sense of honor and dignity. Afterwards the process of devolution started, which is considered a process of revolution and evolution by foolish man. Alas, man has lost his nobility. Therefore, now it is better to live with our natural mates in jungle. I order all of you to get prepared and we will leave on this coming Sunday. I am sure this decision will enable us to reachieve our lost doghood."

At that moment two old owls, who were listening to everything, came close to each other. "What do you think, will it be so?" asked one to other. The second owl laughed at it and said, "How childish you are; they will never act upon it; they have become half-human and will never do what they have said. While living with human beings, many characteristics of man have become part of their blood. I can bet they will be humiliated again and again, but will never take any bold step. Have you not seen how they were speaking, like great human leaders? I have listened to many human speeches in their assemblies and huge processions; such great rhetorical speeches are made by humans when they are unable to do anything; have you seen any change in the human world in spite of great associations and great talks? - dear, that was no different from those great human speeches. Dogs and humans have many resemblances, and one of those is that one talks too much and other speaks too much. They never learn from their past; believe me they are destined to be doomed."

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