Aunt Zubeida, ever since her husband passed away, had been on the move. After two successful solo trips across the country, she was of late fixated on the idea of a fulfilling pilgrimage. The only trouble was - there was no one to take care of her dog and that's how I came into the picture.
The first time I saw Casper, my immediate impulse was to turn down her request which I had previously ardently agreed. To be honest, I was expecting a bulldog or a retriever but she showed up at my door with one hell of a black ferocious hellhound. The only throught of co-existing with that growling beast churned my bowels. Before I could clear all my queries regarding the unlikely animal, she left with a caricaturish smile, odd enough to distract me from her burn marks for a second. Casper, upon not receiving the kind of welcome he was anticipating, kept on barking untill his voice turned hoarse.
The first night with Casper had been nothing less than a nightmare. His constant howling and vehement attempts to let loose off the leash scared me out of my wits. However, I took an ounce of guilty pleasure having served Masand the taste of his own medicine. Ever since Masand and Nina moved in to my neighbourhood, I hadn't enjoyed a peaceful sleep. Having a dog bark all day was still better than dealing with a grown man agressively shouting at his wife all night, every night.
Casper too was getting uncontrollable each passing day. No matter what I fed him or how much I fed him, he had no business shutting his damn mouth. For a while I could empathize with Nina.
One Sunday afternoon, while returning from grocery, I saw Masand's door wide open with some kind of commotion going on in there. Being highly indecisive, I hurled the door and peeped in and what I saw made my jaw drop - Nina standing with a butcher knife dripping with blood on top of Masand lying dead on the floor. I could tell she wasn't expecting me or anyone at her door in that particular moment. My presence startled her and none of us spoke a word for two whole minutes. It was so silent that I could only hear my heart pounding in my chest and Casper barking from my balcony.
The next few hours that followed had me doubt my own conscience. Nina and I came to a mutual agreement. I agreed to help her out and she promised to cook for Casper that night. Although I lost my appetite for several days to come, Casper probably had the best meal of his life. He devoured the feast laid out in front of him like a ravening beast. The supper filled him up so much that it cured him of his constant barking.
Exactly two weeks later, aunt Zubeida came to pick Casper. She looked much better compared to when she left. Neither I nor Nina had disclosed anything about the incident. Stunned by his sudden calm demeanor, she finally spoke, "I don't know what you have fed him but I haven't seen him so patient since your uncle's demise."