Raoul looked at the dog sprawled at his feet and then looked away. There was nothing to look at in this world anymore, he thought. Outside the rain was still going full blast like a drunken old sod. Why did I let Chloe convince me in accompanying her and Chip to this damned place called Cherapunji in India? This godforsaken place on earth, where it rains for weeks without a respite? Nothing to look at but this bleak rain outside and this lazy dog sprawled here at my feet inside this cottage. The old fellow has some teeth broken, probably from a fight over mating rights. 'He won’t have to fight with me for those rights over Chloe, that bitch wife of mine. I would give those rights willingly to any blind dog that wags his tail even slightly at me'; Raoul thought and surrendered himself once again to the three week old issue of Times of India on his lap.
Raoul didn’t want to look at the newspaper either. He loved looking at only beautiful things such as cavities in molars, root canals and dental decay. He loved creating beautiful craters where teeth once stood, proud and erect as if challenging his own masculinity, and then filling the craters with his own creations of implants. ‘Drill out the teeth of the world and then fill those gaping holes with divine implants, bridges and fillings from God’s own dentist’; Raoul had always wanted to advertise on TV. He would have but only for the prohibitive advertisement tariffs. His son Chip’s obsession for Satanic worship and cults of the East had brought him & Chloe to this place. A whole night and day’s journey away from Kolkata on the eastern coast of India, Cherapunji stands in the hills in Assam, infamous for world’s highest rainfall and also for tantric rituals of the ungodly.
Chloe too was worried about Chip’s obsession of satanic cults around the world, but she had dragged Raoul along. "Can’t you see, he is our only son Raoul. We must be by his side whenever he needs us. And looking at his area of study, he will need us anytime. Can’t you take a week off from that clinic of yours?" She had gone on and on and finally Raoul had agreed to accompany her with Chip on their son’s study tour of the oriental occult in India. The week had turned to three weeks and still the incessant rain prevented Chip from making the ‘contacts’ with underground of the local cult. Chip was interested in interviewing a tantrik yogee, a leader of the underground cult who was said to possess powers to enter anybody’s mind, even animals’! It has been four hours since Chip walked out in the rain searching for that tantrik. Just having finished her lunch, Chloe was taking a nap in the tiny bedroom of the cottage. Devoid of any open mouths to look into, Raoul was re-reading the same newspaper he had read several times in the last three weeks. No newspapers delivered here until the rain stops, the inn keeper had said. What are Bush and Kerry doing out there, he wondered. No way to know, with the TV short circuited and the batteries of his transistor radio sodden wet.
Raoul got up, to go to bathroom for thirty seventh time since morning. All this rain and its noise on the tin roofing of the cottage had made his bladder very weak. When he was unbuttoning his pants, he thought he heard a noise outside. He wanted to investigate. But he couldn’t control his bladder. Not now. Later. It must be Thor, that stupid old dog Chloe had insisted on bringing along. A long wait and then a weak stream. ‘Ah pure bliss!’ Raoul finally buttoned up his pants as he stepped out of the bathroom. And then he stood there with his jaw falling open. Chloe was lying on the floor, petting and kissing the dog, her clothes astray. KISSING THE DOG! Raoul wanted to speak, rather scream. But his jaws just stayed open as if he was sitting in the patient’s chair at his own clinic. "Chloe, what is going on?" he finally managed to croak. Chloe looked at him once and barked heartily.
Suddenly, Raoul’s knees gave way. His back was to the wall. He slipped downward until the floor accepted him. The last thought in his mind was, ‘how the hell this dog has all his teeth back in place?’ He didn’t remember doing any implants on the dog. ‘Then how the hell….and why this sudden clasping pain in my chest?’ Just as Raoul was closing his eyes for the last time, he heard the dog say, "wait Mr. Raoul. Welcome to the land of Tantra. Don’t go yet. See the fun. She thinks she is a bitch! Isn’t that what you always thought?"
(c) Rajendra Pradhan