That’s what he was called at the WSD kennels as there was more than one Raju housed there. He lived outside the Sterling cinema and lived there for more than 13 years. If you were a regular moviegoer at Sterling, you would have seen him sprawled across its marble steps. He was looked after by some of the street dwellers living in the area.
Raju was one of my favorite strays. He was brown and white, big, stout and podgy but very smart and intelligent. He was sterilized years ago by WSD and I knew him for the past 10 years. He used to associate me only with treatment as for the numerous times we had treated him for wounds, maggot wounds, a haematoma, skin problems and the annual rabies vaccinations. So, as soon as he smelt my presence in the vicinity, he used to slink away and generally hide near the New Excelsior theatre or in the hut next to the Jai Jawan stall. But he still liked me and though he used to shiver on seeing me, he would continue to wag his tail.
I remember the Sunday morning when a volunteer and I went to treat him for a skin problem. He was fast asleep on the Sterling steps and we thought that we would get ready with the medication before approaching him so that he doesn’t smell us and run away. Suddenly from a distance we see Raju sniffling his nose in the air, turning around, seeing me and running away.
Raju died today. He would have lived for at least another 3-4 years if the people who looked after him had informed us in time of the terrible maggot wound that he had on his back. He had been cured many times before but this time it was too late as the infection had spread quite a bit.
Some months ago, I had made a list of all the geriatric strays that I wanted to photograph (for posterity) and Raju was one on that list. I never managed to take his photo nor will I see him again sprawled on the Sterling steps. Raju too will never get to see the new Sterling multiplex or sleep on its steps again.