Short Story - The Faithful Dog
Anato was a simple and straight farmer. He worked on his own fields and at night slept peacefully after dinner in his humble home.
Anato had a dog named Singer. He loved his dog very much. The dog accompanied him to fields and returned with him like his shadow.
Anato had a neighbour named Shento. Shento hated Singer. Singer would often sneak into his compound to doggy-do. Shento would run after the dog with a stick whenever he found Singer near his house. Singer would make Shento do a lot of running,
Anato had brought up Singer since it was merely a two week pup. Anato knew every move of Singer and the dog understood all the signals of Anato. Anato often played with Singer. Running with Anato made Singer very happy.
One evening, Anato was eating. Suddenly, Singer started barking. Anato tried to calm down the dog but it barked more loudly. The dog caught Anato’s long shirt and pulled towards the backside of the house. Anato realised that Singer wanted to show him something.
Anato followed Singer. At the backside Singer begun digging the ground near the guava tree. Anato watched the dog. Then, he went into the house and brought a spade. He removed some soil but found nothing. He stood wondering Singer again dug the same spot. Anato knew the dog wanted him to dig deeper.
Anato dug the ground. A little below his spade hit something metallic. It was a brass pot full of gold coins.
Anato was overjoyed. His eyes were wide and mouth open. Now he could buy a big house and get married. He thankfully caressed Singer. The dog frolicked around to show his happiness.
Anato put the coins back into the pot and hid it in a safe place. As Anato went around looking for a big house to buy, the story about his finding the treasure came into light. He had to tell others about it.
One day, he found Shento standing at his door early in the morning. Shento said, “Congratulations my friend… Your dog Singer did a wonderful job. Please lend me your dog for two days. I want to find my treasure.’
Anato didn’t like it. He knew that Shento hated Singer. So he tried to put Shento off. ‘Brother! You are my neighbour as well as my friend. I don’t want to refuse anything to you. But we know that you don’t like Singer and Singer does not like you. You will find your treasure in some other way if it is in your fate.”
But Shento was mad for treasure. He insisted, ‘There is no other way. Only Singer can lead me to it. I will take good care of him I promise.”
Anato could not refuse adamant Shento. He let Shento take Singer led by a leash. Shento led Singer around his house trying to make it sniff. But a dog can’t be forced to sniff around. It is a dog’s natural act.
Singer pulled back the leash to get free. Shento dragged Singer to the tree of his courtyard and forced its snout on the ground. The angered Singer began barking fiercely in protest.
Frustrated Shento tied Singer to the tree as a punishment for not helping him. He gave the dog nothing to eat whole day. In the evening Shento found Singer in a sad and sullen mood. He again tried to force Singer sniff around Singer barked furiously and pulled at the rope to free itself.
Angry Shento hit Singer with a thick stick. Singer howled in pain and fell down. It died soon after Shento was fearful about what to say to Anato. He buried the dead dog under a tree on the hillock behind his house.
After two days, Anato came to take his Singer. Shento said, ’Friend’ Your dog is just wonderful. My brother had come from another village. He liked Singer so much that he took it with him.’
‘How did you give Singer to any other person without asking me,’ it’s very bad. Give me the address of your brother. I will get Singer from him myself.’
Shento was going scared. He tried to buy time. ‘Dear friend! My brother has not taken away Singer for ever. He will come back in a week’s time. Please bear with us.”
Anato went back m a gloomy mood. He was getting a bad feeling about it. Something was very wrong. He counted days. On the seventh day he went to Shento. Shento made excuses, “I think my brother got delayed due to some reason. Please give me a few days more.” In this way fifteen days passed off.
Anato was getting mad for Singer by now. Meanwhile he had got engaged to a very homely girl. The wedding day was drawing closer. He went to Shento fuming in anger and screamed, ‘Give me my Singer. I am getting married. I won’t marry without Singer. Get me my dear dog.’
Shento could not put off Anato any longer. He told the truth, “I can’t give you Singer. He is dead.”
Anato was shocked. In a grieving voice he spoke, ‘What is it that you say? Where is my Singer? Tell me.”
Shento told him the story as it had happened. Anato returned in deep grief. He announced to his relatives ‘I don’t want to get married.”
The relatives advised, ‘Singer can not be brought back to life. Whatever is done is done. You must get married and carry on your life.’
Anato didn’t invite Shento to his marriage. Anato was sad even after getting married. His wife Ono understood her husband’s feelings. She said, “I know that Singer was your dear dog. Let’s go and offer flowers wherever he is buried by Shento. It will console us.”
Anato liked his wife’s suggestion. They reached the spot where Singer was supposed to have been buried. There a strange sapling was growing up.
After offering flowers Ono said, “I think this strange sapling is symbol of late Singer. We must take it to plant it in our courtyard as a memorial to Singer.”
Anato liked the idea. They planted that sapling in their courtyard. The sapling grew into a tree in two years. The tree grew strange leaves and flowers. Meanwhile Anato had become father of a son.
One day, Anato’s son fell ill. The local medicine man’s drugs didn’t cure the boy’s illness. Wind had blown some flowers of the Singer tree to the sick bed of the boy. The boy absent mindedly chewed the flowers. It had magical effect. Anato’s son regained health in quick time to the surprise of the parents. Tears came to the eyes of Anato when he realised that Singer was helping him even after his death. People learnt about the magic tree of Anato that cured diseases. Sick people came to his house to get the leaves and the flowers of the magic tree. Shento wanted to make money out of that tree. One night he entered Anato’s courtyard and sawed off a big branch of that tree. He started selling its leaves and wood pieces as a sure-cure medicine.
The king summoned Anato to his court when he heard about that tree. The king wanted to buy the tree at any price. Anato didn’t agree to it. He wanted his tree to remain available to all poor people. He had brought along some leaves and flowers which he gave to the king. And the king’s son who was suffering for long from an incurable disease became healthy again.
The king wanted to give reward to Anato but he refused to accept it. He said that he would not put any price to his dear Singer tree. He just wanted to serve the people free as a tribute to his late friend Singer. For his honesty the king gave Anato a high place in his court.
Shento was dying of jealousy. The leaves and wood pieces sold by him were causing diseases instead of working as medicine. On the complaint of the people, the king put the dishonest Shento into prison.