“Oh, Dusty! Stop doing that!” screamed Simi as she pushed him off her. Not one to be pushed away, Dusty persisted again. “Dusty, stop it, or I’ll throw you out this very instant!” said Simi, her voice now raising to the levels of a shriek. “Take it easy, will you? He’s just happy you’re back from your long trip!” chided Jai as he plonked on the couch to read the paper. Dusty walked up towards Jai and placed his head on Jai’s lap. Giving Dusty a slight rub behind his ear, Jai went back to newspaper. Content with the tickle, Dusty, the Golden Retriever, settled down by Jai’s feet.
“You encourage him to be over-friendly!” berated Simi as she got up the sofa and started walking away. “That statement shows that you don’t know a thing about dogs. Especially Dusty. He loves to be petted and he likes it when we take him out. But how would you know? You’ve been taught to look at dogs suspiciously” said Jai, his voice now raising. It angered him to no extend when Simi complained about his attachment to the dog. She’d never been completely game to opening their house to Dusty. But Jai had insisted. And now their 18 month-old toddler Sahil loved Dusty too. The three of them, Dusty, Sahil and Jai, often went for long walks when time permitted. Both of them especially loved the beach. Jai didn’t know what it was, but both Sahil and Dusty loved running along the beach. Though barely able to walk without falling down, Sahil loved to chase Dusty around. And from what he’d seen, Dusty loved it too. His wife, Simi, was a financial consultant and often away on business a lot. He was a musician, and hence had his studio set up at home. He enjoyed working from home, since it allowed him to spend more time with both Sahil and Dusty. And even though it had cost them a lot, they’d bought an apartment in the same block of flats as where Simi’s parents lived. Which meant someone was always around to look after Sahil. Dusty was another story though. Just like Simi, her parents were not that fond of Dusty either. Jai put his paper away and looked at Dusty, who was now tickling Sahil by trying to playfully gnaw at his feet. He heard Simi out in the balcony on her phone. “Probably helping some poor old sod pay less tax!” he thought. He looked at the time. It was 3 p.m. on Saturday. He got up from the couch and went out to the balcony. Simi was just finishing up her call. “ I’m going for a shower. Get yourself and Sahil ready. We’re going to the beach.” he said. “How come?” asked Simi, throwing her hair back. The action briefly took him back to when he’d first laid eyes on her at a wedding. He smiled and said “Because I want to. And Dusty could do with a long free run. He’s been cooped up at the apartment for the past couple of days”. “Oh, he’s coming too, is he? Well, fine.” said Simi as she walked back into the flat.
An hour later,
“Sahil, can you please get your shoes?” asked Jai as he slipped on his loafers. Though Sahil was very much still in the babbling stages, he could understand simple words, one of which was shoes. As he switched off the television, he noticed Sahil come over to him with something orange in his hand. As Jai held his hand out, Sahil dropped what he was holding. It was single orange shoe with an off-white add-on running vertically through the centre. Jai smiled and picked up Sahil so he could put the shoe for him. Once he did so, he looked at Sahil and asked “Where’s the other one?”. Sahil just stared at him with a blank look on his face. Jai slowly repeated the question “Sahil…..Where……is …… the…..other….shoe?”. Sahil continued to look at him expressionless, which convinced Jai that he did not understand. Sighing, he placed Sahil on the couch and walked up to the shoe rack to find the other pair. After a few minutes of searching for the other pair, not just in the shoe rack, but in most of Sahil’s preferred “treasure-hiding spots”, Jai decided to go with another pair.
Jai took Sahil, placed him on his lap and attempted to remove the shoes. But Sahil had other plans. No matter how hard Jai tried, Sahil screamed and cried, every time Jai tried to unbuckle his lone shoe. Frustrated, Jai called out to Simi, to enquire if she’d seen the other shoe. Simi, who was in the middle of getting dressed, just shouted back saying she didn’t know where it was and maybe he should call up her parents and ask, since he was with them the whole of the previous day. After a quick phone call to his in-laws which failed to yield any further information about the whereabouts of the lone shoe, Jai looked back at Sahil, who was still sitting on the couch with the single orange shoe still on his foot. “Kids” thought Jai “Somedays, when they’ve made up their mind, they just don’t budge. Now where could this shoe be?”
As he stood there wondering what to do,he felt something tug at his jeans. He looked down and noticed Dusty was eagerly pulling at his legs as if wanting to show something. “Not now Dusty. We’re going out in a bit. I know you’re impatient to go, but I need to find this shoe” he said to Dusty. “What am I doing? It’s not like he understands my problem!” thought Jai trying to shake Dusty off his leg. But Dusty refused to let go. At 5 years, Dusty was almost grown up by dog standards. Standing at about 20 inches tall and weighing close to 60lbs, Dusty was strong. Jai, who was quite scrawny, found it difficult to withstand Dusty’s strength and was dragged towards the main door. “Fine, I’ll take you for a walk. But only for one round around the complex, ok?” he said sternly to Dusty, who had now left Jai’s jeans and was excitedly jumping around and scratching the front door. “Simi !” yelled Jai, over the noise of her hair dryer “I’m taking Dusty for a quick walk. Can you please watch Sahil for about 15 minutes?”. “You are what?” he heard Simi holler. And then there was silence as the hair dryer was switched off and Simi walked into the hall. “I’m taking Dusty for a quick walk. He needs to …umm….pee” lied Jai, hoping Simi wouldn’t overreact. “Fine! Leave Sahil here though. He’s all dressed up. I don’t want him to play in the mud again. But where is his other shoe?” asked Simi.
Jai sighed. He’d spent the last thirty minutes hunting for the shoe and he had just told Simi a little while ago that he couldn’t find it. And yet here she was, asking where the other shoe was. Somedays, she really needed to work on her listening skills. “I don’t know. And Sahil won’t let me remove this shoe and put on a different pair of shoes. I’ve tried and I’m giving up. You can give it a go” said Jai as he walked out of the door with Dusty on a leash. Pretending he didn’t hear Simi’s sarcastic comment, Jai shut the door noisily behind him and smiled. “I’d like to see her try to get Sahil to wear another pair of shoes!” he smirked as he got into the lift with Dusty.
Once they were in the play area of the complex, Jai took the leash off Dusty. “Go, finish your business and come back soon!” he said, as he sat down on one of the seats. To his surprise, Dusty just stood there, refusing to budge. “What, you don’t want me to sit now?” asked Jai as he got up from the seat. Slowly Dusty started walking, and Jai followed. It seemed random at first, but then Jai noticed that Dusty was purposefully walking towards the children’s play area. Wondering where Dusty was taking him, Jai continued to follow him. A few minutes later, Dusty stopped near wall that enclosed the children’s play area. He walked up to the wall, and looked at Dusty confused. Suddenly Dusty placed his front paws on the wall and tried to stand up on his hind legs, as if trying to scale the wall. Jai stood there confused. Was there something on the other side of the wall? he wondered. At 6’2”, Jai was much taller than the wall, and managed to peer over the wall. At first all he could see was the rather steep drop to the cemented bottom of the complex. As he was about to turn back, something caught his eye and he looked again. Down there, on the cemented floor, lay the missing orange shoe.
This fictional story is based on the picture prompt provided for Write Tribe's Wednesday Prompt. The picture has been kindly provided by Vidya Sury