The barking of a dog disturbed Ahmer’s attempt to sleep, once more.
“I am scared, Mommy,” she told her mother, as she tugged closer to her.
“It is nothing, Honey. Do not be afraid,” said the mother.
It was a peculiar routine for Ahmer and her mother. The dog barking and Ahmer feeling scared.
It was the same black dog, who lived in Ahmer’s colony. The dog was lean and small, just a little more than a pup, years from turning into an adult.
Afraid of dogs in general, Ahmer found the dog as scary as any adult hound could be.
And every time she heard the bark, the ‘fierce’ face of the dog, she faced in the street daily, rolled before her eyes.
One night, there was no barking.
Ahmer had a peaceful sleep.
When she woke up in the morning, she was wondering about the dog.
‘Why has the dog stopped barking? Maybe the fairy Mommy always mentions took it away!’ thought Ahmer.
She soon left for school in her neat white shirt and checkered, purple skirt. Holding her mother’s hand.
She was looking here and there for the dog she was so used to seeing and being scared of daily.
But the dog was nowhere to be seen.
“What happened to the dog, Mommy?” Ahmer could not resist asking anymore.
“There was no barking in the night and the dog is not in the street now.”
“Maybe the dog went somewhere,” the mother replied.
“Are you missing that dog?”
Ahmer didn’t say anything.
They were about to reach her school when Ahmer spotted the dog caught in the wild bushes covering a plot some distance from their home.
The dog looked helpless and scared.
It looked back at Ahmer and her mother.
“Mommy, look. There is that dog,” Ahmer shouted.
“Yes. He seems to be in trouble,” said the mother.
“Shall we help him?” Ahmer asked.
“Yes. Let me fetch something to get him out.”
Ahmer’s mother caught hold of a long stick and went closer to free the dog. Ahmer stayed close to her leg as she worked to help the dog.
The dog was free.
He looked lovingly at them and rolled on its back to express its gratitude.
Ahmer was back to being scared. She shouted and went even closer to her mother.
Later in bed, Ahmer was recollecting everything that had happened in the morning. There was a bark, but Ahmer was only half scared.
It was Sunday the next day. Ahmer was glad she could play all day.
“Let us go to the park today,” her mother told her.
Ahmer could not wait to leave for the park. While her mother was still inside, she sneaked out of their gate to wait for her in the street.
From nowhere, a fully-grown dog appeared in the street. He was coming closer to Ahmer very quickly.
She wanted to rush back inside, but the gate had closed and she didn’t know how to open it from the outside.
Ahmer froze. Tears trickled down her chubby cheeks. She finally managed to scream at the top of her lungs, as she closed her eyes out of fear, and fell to her knees.
She heard an identical bark.
Ahmer opened her eyes only to see the dog they had helped standing closer to her and barking at the stranger, who ran away as fast as he could.
Ahmer felt a sense of relief. She knew she was not alone. She looked at the neighbourhood dog, and, for the first time, she was not scared at all.
When her mother came out, Ahmer was smiling at the dog.