I haven’t been putting up regular updates here about animal-feeding initiatives, but this is a nod to the efforts of Ravi and Manoj, two of our most valued and conscientious helpers, who collect food from a few of us and carry it around Saket, Malviya Nagar, Pushp Vihar and other nearby places for distressed street animals, and also help with medical crises.
They have been spending 10-12 hours on the road daily, attending to calls not just around our neighbourhood but occasionally other parts of south Delhi too, finding time to handle as many cases as possible – even taking phone calls late at night after they have reached home at the end of a tiring day. (This with families to look after, and Manoj's mother in hospital.) AND they stay somehow positive and compassionate and emotionally engaged through it all, an attitude that’s very hard to fathom for a nihilist like yours truly.
I met Ravi outside the vet’s yesterday; here he is with a street pup who has a damaged spine. (People are driving even more carelessly than usual these days – bad news for animals who are wandering onto the roads more than before.) Though the pup is temporarily being fostered, this is one of those situations where you have to be pragmatic: do what you can, but be prepared for things not working out well. Which is why I was struck, more than anything else, by how purposeful and organised Ravi was sounding when he talked about the list of things that need to be done for this “bachha” – first medication for one urgent issue, then more expansive treatment for something else, and so on. Until, he added thoughtfully, once the overall health has improved we can maybe get one of those wheelchairs for dogs who can’t use their hind legs.
Listening to him discuss this indie pup’s future prospects, you wouldn’t imagine we were smack-dab in the middle of a situation where it can be hard to get hold of even basic medical supplies, in a country where homeless animals (and homeless humans) are highly expendable at the best of times, much less during a pandemic. But what Ravi was doing – and it’s the only way people like him can continue to do so much good work, day in and day out – was staying in the moment, focusing on the case at hand, not thinking about how bleak and overwhelming the larger picture can seem. And being loving and caring through it all, which was evident from how secure this pup was in his arms. At times like this, that soppy story about the kid throwing starfish back into the sea, one at a time, makes a tiny bit of sense.
Anyone who’d like to help Ravi and Manoj with their efforts, please get in touch at email@example.com, or through Facebook.