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The Territorial Goat

Written on July 26, '14


This 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 the distance. 

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.

It 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.

Meanwhile, the 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!

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