was in my early teens. I was returning from a city in central India. We (Father and I) were
traveling by Indian Railways, and had berths near the window. This was
to my great delight, for I liked nothing better than to gape outside
forever, even when the train wasn't moving!
It was during one
such pause in the journey, when the train had stopped at a small-ish
station. The disembarking platform was on the other side of the coach.
On my side, a pair of rails ran between the train and the platform. The
station was well-maintained, and didn't have too many people on it.
There was a white picket fence on the far side, and greenery beyond it. A
dog was standing at the edge of the platform, looking at the train with
half-closed, sleepy eyes.
Occasionally, it would sniff at the
air, perhaps hoping for passengers to drop tit-bits on the line (as we
litter-bugs are so prone to do). He didn't look hungry, so this was
probably out of habit. I was watching the dog, for there wasn't much
else to look at. There was a buzz of voices inside the coach, mostly of
passengers grumbling at the delay. The first throng of food-sellers and
tea-vendors had left by that time. Outside, I could hear some bird in
Just then, a family of goats tumbled onto the
platform, through a gap in the picket fence. There was mommy goat in
front, followed by four or five perky, restless kids. They would've
passed by without event, walking peacefully along the fence. But mommy
goat suddenly stopped, and turned to look at us. At the dog, more
specifically, for it was standing between her and the train. The dog had
no premonition of what was about to follow, for he continued to look at
us with that semi-detached interest.
Like an arrow out of a bow,
leaving her kids bewildered, mommy goat shot across the distance
between fence and dog - and rammed straight into its backside! She
braked hard at the edge, as poor doggy turned a clear cartwheel in
midair. It yelped as it flew, but managed to land on all fours on the
gravel below. Thankfully no train was passing at that moment! Gravel
scattered, dust rose, and the dog emitted a weird mix of sounds in pain
and utter surprise - a series of octaves rising in amplitude.
had no idea what had caused this spectacular downfall. For mommy goat, a
tiny bell tinkling at her neck, had trotted back to her babies by then.
It was as if nothing had happened. A peaceful but potential adversary
dispatched in a most clinical fashion, she could now calmly proceed on
her way. The babies who had all along stood in a bunch, watching the
entire drama, now gleefully followed their mom.
poor dog had fled the scene, deeply embarrassed I'm sure, running
straight past my window towards the guard's end of the train. Till then,
it had no idea about the exact shape, or size of its attacker!