Call of the cuckoo

An ardent lover of dogs, Suri soon fell in love with his namesake pup.

The musical ‘kuhoo..kuhoo’ wafted through my bedroom window every early morning with unfailing regularity like a ‘cuckoo-clock’.

Not from the singing bird cuckoo, but from my childhood pal Suryanarayana (Suri for me), who deftly blew into the hollow of his clasped palms producing this amazingly natural cuckoo melody. This was the wake-up call for me to get ready to jog with him to the gym 2 km away where we exercised daily. On occasions when I did not hear this signal-call owing to deep sleep, father would wake me up with, “get up, your cuckoo awaits you!” Suri lived right opposite my house and in our early teens we spent a good part of the day playing together and indulging in pranks befitting our age, which brought us close enough to render us inseparable.

There was healthy competition between us, be it at the gym or in the games we played, and there existed genuine admiration when one excelled the other. Once we had to play a cricket match with the team of the neighbouring locality who had thrown a challenge to us to defeat them ‘at least once’— the audacity of which was obviously prompted by the presence of a few senior players on their side. We accepted the challenge and during the course of the match I happened to be in batting partnership with Suri. While we were going strong, I made the mistake of giving him a call for a run which was not there.

He was declared ‘run out’ and was loudly booed by the rival team supporters as he returned to the pavilion. Something within him snapped then and he abruptly severed contact with me altogether.

Immensely pained by this turn of events I tried my best to assuage his feelings and restore our withering bond, but nothing moved him. It was at this time that father, known for his passion for dogs, brought a cute German shepherd pup and gave me the choice to name it. A brilliant idea struck me. “Why not name him ‘Suri’ so that I can call that name out loudly enough for my friend to hear whenever I pass by his house with the pup?” That worked! An ardent lover of dogs, Suri soon fell in love with his namesake pup thereby coming closer to me by the day.

I offered to change its name lest he should feel offended, but Suri insisted on retaining it saying that it would compel me to chant his name even in his absence! As the pup grew to become a beautiful dog, our strained friendship too blossomed, with the result that the much-missed ‘cuckoo-call’ was resumed with more vigour. ‘Suri’, which had become the cynosure of all eyes by then, started accompanying us to the gym where he sat watching us work out on parallel bars and Roman rings, wide-eyed with admiration! This enchanting scenario of the little world of us three was, however, too good to last.

Returning from the gym one morning ‘Suri’ the pup, was fatally run over by a recklessly driven truck right in front of us, leaving a deep scar inside us which even time could not heal. Without our loving canine pal for company we didn’t have the heart to continue our routine — and with this the long-cherished ‘cuckoo call’ too ended!

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