Friday, 12 February 2016

Mum's the word

She stood ready to pounce, eyes locked on the three ruffians waiting to leap about ten feet to my right. In the middle, I stood with a mad resolve, my instincts on high – I was a mother too. 

The three little beauties lay heaped on each other, huddled, eyes closed tight, oblivious to the ambush above.

My little child of five stood silent, finger on his lips, eyes peeled, behind the safety of the gate, watching me and the little pups. “Don’t worry Awwa, mamma will save them”, he whispered with such conviction to my petrified mother watching us all, I was torn.

As my mother’s eyes panned left to right, one arm protectively harnessed her love and life, her little grandson. The other hand gripped a heavy cane, ready to be hurled at my first attacker (markswoman in her heydays, she has an unfaltering aim even today).

We were all mothers that day, each protecting our child.

No one breathed. Not even the wind. The only sounds were of occasional growls from the leader of the pack to my right and the dull drone of highway traffic beyond.

The golden litter was 10 days old and the mother dog found it safe to leave her precious puppies by the side of our gate in the dry drain when she went away to do what doggie mummies do. My mum never has a day to worry for her safety, with this stray dog standing watch by the gate, all day. That day, was payback time.  

As my son watched me with absolute faith, the mother dog watched me with equal trust, set to protect me, should I be attacked. So did my mother.

Shattering the silence, a scooter whizzed past and the three rogue dogs moved in from the right. My mum threw the cane over and I lunged towards them, glaring into their eyes. They stopped short, growling all the time, and just as suddenly, turned around and trotted off the other way.

Taken aback, I quickly glanced at the pups who were yelping away now. I turned to look at their mother on my left  she had the softest look in her eyes. If she could talk, she would have said a million things to me. I reached for the pups and held myself back, immediately remembering that these were stray, after all. What if the mother attacked me?

Text Box: Mum’s the wordAs if sensing my apprehension, this wonderful creature that I thought of as untamed, took a few paces back, sat down and nodded towards her pups, never letting her moist eyes leave my gaze.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Misty eyed myself, I smiled at her, and reached down to the pups that were by then, really desperate. After my little sonny had very quickly baby-talked to the doggie babies, we left the space for their mother to console them.  

We watched from over the gate as she expertly put them in a line and held them in the safety of her tummy. Giving us a wholehearted look, she lay her head over her litter and closed her eyes as the pups settled into her warm nuzzle.

My hair stand on end even today when I think back on that afternoon. The gratitude, the sheer protectiveness, the humane mother-to-mother connect … so complete, so overwhelming. The love, so pure. If only humans were as trusting and unconditional.