Once upon a time in a jungle somewhere, there lived a dog, a three-legged dog; ignored, neglected; lived all his life in isolation. He never complained about his mundane and forlorn life but deep down he knew that his life was slipping into the stranglehold of nothingness. He wanted to scream out loud in frustration but the prevailing norms of society didn’t encourage anyone to indulge in such activities. He had a secret wish to live like a rockstar and lead a kickass life. He brooded “I mean, look at that lambu giraffe, always seen surrounded by his friends, what a roaring social life he has! And that reindeer, when he went on his Christmas duty, his wife sang a popular Hindi movie song for him. And how about that king of jungle, that self-righteous, badass tiger (not lion); dude, he gets free accommodation, security, a car with that red beacon and all the things that he doesn’t even require. Why on earth would that gangsta need security? To add to that, he gets all adulation from his sycophantic followers. Why cannot god be little impartial for once and give me the life which I long for? I visit the temple everyday and give him 5 rupees; but for what? Being the subject of all his entertainment? And then I have to console myself with that clichéd statement – it’s all because of the karma or some shit of my previous life. Dude, then what is the point in coming to you and throwing myself on your clemency? And if I don’t worship you, you will unleash your wrath on me, now what kind of a deal is that?” He liked Amitabh Bachchan’s subversive ranting in Dewaar and wanted to emulate that, but refrained because that dude in the temple looked a bit apathetic.
Anyway, one day he came back from work, sat down with a cup of tea and played his favorite song – ‘washing powder Nirma.’ Suddenly a news flashed on TV, it’s about some ongoing protest regarding the selection of the king for the next term. Now, that jungle had quarterly events to select their king (not 5 years) and mostly the events were WWE matches or gymnastics. But this time people wanted a change, a change which will open up the competition for everyone. So, there was like this protest thing going on near the Banyan tree square. One of the protestors demanded some transparency in the process and started an indefinite fast (later everyone came to know that he did not know much about that event). After a series of meetings, the core committee finally decided to have a half marathon race to select the king for the next term. “Howz that for a break?” the dog mused “it’s not an impossible task for me. I do run once in a while when it rains or when the bigger dogs chase me. So what if people laugh at me? They laughed at me all my life, I have nothing to lose, I will take part in this event.”
So, finally the day arrived, he wore his best sneakers and tracksuits, took a rickshaw and reached the stadium on time. People in his office were discussing that this stadium will not host any event after December 2012. He looked at that monstrous stadium and was transfixed by its aura; this place has seen it all; tears, laughter, joy, dejection; so many legends were born here and so many of them said goodbye to the game. Frightened and anxious, he went to the registration counter and was greeted with a few sniggers. But then, as per the guidelines, anyone could take part in the event and no racial or anti-semantic statements were allowed, but can rules change the prejudices? Anyway, he took his badge and walked towards the starting line where he saw other contestants; they were big and athletic. They had coaches discussing the strategies with them, they had fans cheering for them from the stand, their irreproachable outfits accentuated their imposing looks.
Floodlights blazed the shiny tracks and the lush green surface surrounding it; he had never seen anything like that before. Nervous, scared, he stood at the starting line with other contestants. “So this is it, my moment of redemption, my 21 kms of fame.” Unknowingly, he whispered a prayer; he had a lot of faith in that dude when he was a kid and used to visit the temple with his mom.
Gun fired and the race began, and in the blink of an eye, the cheetah whizzed past him followed by the horse and deer. Within few seconds he realized that it’s pointless to continue this race “forget about winning, I wouldn’t be able to reach the finishing line.” His frail body and three legs were giving up, it was too much for him to endure. But the feeling of belongingness and the atmosphere overwhelmed him, he would never get this stage again, he wanted to be part of this mad race for some more time. So he ran, ran with all his might, leaving behind all humiliation, banter, pain, stigma. He stumbled a few times and made a fool of himself, but somehow he managed to complete the race.
No one looked at him as everyone was congratulating the winners and those big guys, but no one was laughing at him either. He decided to stay back and watch the award ceremony; so he stood in one corner. He applauded fervently when those superstars went up the podium to collect the trophies and medals. Then the organizers announced that those who finished the race will be awarded with a certificate.
His heart skipped a beat when his name reverberated around that big bad stadium. While he went up to collect the certificate that big bully elephant shook his hand and said “well done dude.” A feeling of elation swept through him as he heard few scattered applause. He looked at everyone around him; they were his heroes and he had the privilege to share the stage with them. He pondered “I cannot be like that fearless lion who doesn’t back down from any challenge or that horse who runs faster than the wind, I am just an ordinary dog with three legs; but I can live with pride, I can win a certificate, I did not go unnoticed. There were many gifted players who couldn’t do it. They didn’t understand the rules of the game; they did not know when the race started.” He held his certificate and walked towards his house. He was tired and was not able to walk, but the dizzying heights of euphoria alleviated all the pain. He wanted to share this joy with someone, have a drink and talk about this achievement for sometime, but he did not know anyone. When he reached the hilltop, he saw one small puppy; he showed his certificate to him. The puppy didn’t understand anything but he guessed it’s a big thing, so he asked “dude, are you like superman?” He smiled and then walked towards his house singing on top of his voice “washing powder Nirma.”