Plantation Cycling Tales – Babu, the Prince of Pariah dogs – Part 6

January 27, 2013

jerneh252It will take me at least another days ride to reach Kampung Jernih by the sea. I hope to met my old friend Haji Yusoff. I need his support this June when the dry season comes to move my palm fruit through the labyrinth of plantation roads.

I stop just short of a river that divides the low lands from the highlands – beyond this stretch is an endless series of peaks and valleys known as Harimau Puteh – white tiger trail. Tigers are supposed to be extinct. They’re not supposed to exist any longer. But try telling that to the people around here – maybe they know something that those scientist who come here only occasionally don’t know – just a while ago I passed a lingham (indian deity) to one side, goat milk and a slab of mutton. Who says tigers dont exist. Earlier this morning, when I woke up before dawn to commence my journey, I noticed rubber tappers going to work wearing painted mask facing backwards – maybe they were afraid of tigers sneaking up behind them. Who says tigers don’t exist.

Last year while riding through these parts during the durian season – I came across fresh tiger tracks. A mother and two cubs. Of course tigers exist.

Tigers are fast and crafty. In Africa a tiger took out a man seated just beside me in a open top jeep. Poof! He was gone just like the wind. Didn’t even see it coming. Just a blur. I push the idea out of my mind.

I wait just along a shaded stretch away from the river. I am waiting for Babu, the prince of the nation of pariah dogs. The field Marshall of all dogs. Just the other day, I grabbed one of the many dog scouts shadowing me and tied one of my fruity flavored underwear around it’s neck. I know he will return to Babu to report what he has seen – and when Babu smells it would release a storm of memories from his distant childhood and he would remember – father.

I raised Babu and released him into the wild. I wonder to myself whether Babu still remembers me – it has been a long time since we last met. 5 years ago. Or was it longer.

I wait as I know Babu will come. A dog never forgets his first master. Never. His first love. Love can make a dog do anything – besides this must be the place where they come when the sun hangs high for water. Babu isn’t just your street mongrel living off the skip. He is the prince of dogs – the commander in chief of at least 10,000 pariah dogs covering an an empire roughly 100 square kilometers – in the relative scheme of things, Babu is the equivalent of the president of the united states and the God father with elements of the Chow Yun Fatt thrown in – Babu’s foreign policy even makes Kissinger look like an errand boy. Babu even knows how to extort a regular food supply for his army of wild dogs.

In the dry season, he terrorizes the banana growers who in turn force the landowners to leave just enough loose palm kernels behind so that the wild dogs don’t muck up their veggie patch. Along with maintaining the delicate balance of power between the greedy hogs and the marauding elephants. This Babu does with the help of the monkeys, who also incidentally have detente with the nation of the 10,000 pariah dog. As they can’t stand the greedy hogs. Who the elephants appear quite indifferent too.

Now you know who Babu is. He isn’t just a dog. He’s a super dog.

I need Babu to take me through the tiger trail safely – the jungle isn’t a place where a man simply just walks into and hopes to walk out safely. Those kind of odds don’t nearly exist without some knowledge of how to survive in the jungle. I am reminded every year hundreds of people die in plantations – they get mugged, bitten by snakes, walk around in circles and from time to time some sorry sod I imagne even gets done in by the odd man eating tiger.

I wait. Suddenly the tall reeds begin to rustle. A majestic creme colored petite dog emerges – its Babu. I can tell from his incredibly expressive human like eyes. He has a brought an escort comprising of 30 pariah dog pocket gangsters. They’re hiding in the scrubs. I even know I am surrounded. As this is the art of war familiar to all wild dogs. This is how they wage war.

Babu moves forward and looks directly and squarely at me. The rest remain hidden. He approaches. Then stops just short to sniff the air. Then as sensing the familiarity of my scent – he begins to lose his imperial bearing and lowers his head shyly as he approaches. I squat down to edge him forward. I hold out my sweaty hand so that he can smell and remember me.

I realize if this goes wrong. Babu will give the order to attack. And I would be probably torn to shreds. I need to get it right the first time. I need to the send a message to the others hiding in the scrubs that I know Babu. When Babu comes close enough I grab him by the neck like a striking Cobra. Babu yelps. I press the arterial vein forcefully. I know this pressure point sends a stream of pure pleasure into the front cortex of all dogs. Babu suddenly remembers. In a language known only to dogs and men who know dogs like they do humans – I tell Babu that I have come from afar to cycle through the tiger trail. I need diplomatic papers of introduction to past through the territories of the 18 immortal monkeys and the land of the dancing elephants. Above all I need the king of the jungle, the tiger to grant me save passage through the treacherous tiger trail.

As I stroke Babu. I can only read that he is willing to accompany me with his troupe through the tiger trail. Beyond that I can’t seem to read his dog’s mind any longer. Soon the deep spirited connection between man and dog began to slowly fade in my mind. I signal him with a pat to the tummy – that was my way of telling him when he was a puppy – follow me. Walking with Babu the prince of the army of the mightiest pariah dog nation in the whole wide world by my side. My fear of crossing the tiger trail slowly melts away like lemon drops.

Tonight will be a full moon. Tigers only attack during full moon’s. Somehow with Babu by my side on this leg of the journey. I don’t feel so alone any longer. I have a friend. Babu, the Prince of the Nation of Pariah dogs.

Darkness 2013


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