Kalu is probably the most common name kept for a stray dog. (Read more in the piece I wrote earlier about stray dog names here). Last week two strays named Kalu passed away. They had more in common than just their names, both were old (one 17 and the other 15), both lived in the Fort area of South Bombay, both were looked after by street dwellers and both died peacefully in their sleep. But of course, both didn’t know each other.
The first Kalu lived across Mr. Shanbhag’s Strand Book Stall at Fort. He used to either be sleeping on the footpath outside Kamanwala Chambers or lying down on his sponge bed provided by his rag-picker owners in the lane opposite Strand. The lane looks like an alley of crime straight out of a Hollywood film: dark, dingy with garbage strewn around. Kalu was born there and due to an accident had a deformed leg, (it used to remain straight and not bend) that didn’t bother him as he used to go about his daily routine of eating, strolling around and sleeping with ease. Kalu was a little grumpy and used to do some amount of nakhra when we used to go and treat him for maggot wounds.
The other Kalu used to stay in Cross Maidan till his family was evicted from there some months ago. I have been seeing him for the past ten years and he was a very happy and jolly dog. He would come running to you, wagging his tail when you passed by the Cross Maidan huts irrespective of you treating him or not. You could make out he had grown old by the white hair on his black face and snout.
Both the Kalus are some of the many old stray dogs in the South Bombay area that have died in the past year. Both would be missed terribly by their families and me.