Friday, May 29, 2020

Lockdown chronicles contd: Pratima Devi

An update about Pratima Devi a.k.a. the “kutton waali Amma” of PVR Saket: I went to see her this morning and was glad that she was looking relatively well. A few extra tarpaulins are in use to keep the worst of the Delhi sun away. Some of the dogs have mange and other related skin problems, and aren’t getting as much medical attention as they need these days, but nothing terribly urgent. For now.

I had posted a few weeks ago about a white Spitz/Pomeranian who had been abandoned near Pratima Devi’s shack (Facebook link here). This dog had seemed very unsettled and scared then – didn’t look like he would survive for long in this environment – but in typical style she has made him one of her own, and he is very attached to her now. (Don’t miss the other fellow sunbathing on the chair in the background in the photo.)

That might sound like a sweet story, but just to reiterate something I have said many times before: it is ghastly how many people use this old woman as a dumping ground for dogs; she makes sure to sterilise every dog precisely because she wants to keep the population under control, and at her age it is too much of a responsibility to start looking after new litters of pups. It was particularly sad to see a St Bernard – of all dogs – who had recently been abandoned. In this heat. (Naturally, he has been given a haircut. A picture of him here with Pawan, who is helping Pratima Devi with the feeding and medicating.)

P.S. Pratima Devi’s son Sapan is going back to his village in Bengal next month – it has been chaotic there after the cyclone, but there’s also another problem, one that I have heard expressed many times in recent conversations: the fear that many villagers have of those who are returning from cities, potentially carrying this terrible new disease that can’t be meaningfully treated in rural areas if it spreads there. Reena, who manages my mother’s flat and has family near Nischintapur in Bengal, tells me she has been on the phone nonstop with worried relatives who are asking her (because she is the city-dwelling oracle who MUST have the answers) what is to be done about all these migrants who are returning home from metropolises as far-flung as Chennai and Bangalore. Do they “isolate” them, for how long… and where?
P.P.S. here is a very short video of Pawan -- not in very good health himself at the time -- rescuing a dog from a deep drain. This was a few weeks ago.

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