Looking not looking away

There is a dog outside our gates with a bulging, hanging growth under his tail. He sits down carefully, never placing his rear completely on the ground. I see him every day. I look at him, he looks at me. With him, I do not avert my eyes. He asks nothing from me, not even pity. I offer him nothing other than an acknowledgement that he lives as much as I do. We are both here. With him, I do not question my privileges. I should but somehow I do not.  Poverty in India is the breath of dust, swirls on the road, over flowing gutters and trash bins, cow dungs and human excrement on sidewalks, taps on the car windows, grubby hands, dark faces, cheap wares, entreaties made to Gods and to man both alike left unanswered. Avert your eyes, close them, pretend the bubble of cool air in your car is the monsoon winds, pretend the taps on your window are a figment of your imagination. Open your eyes after the car moves and look at the finger prints on your windows and look outside beyond them. Indignity upon indignity. Nothing worse than being a pest, a fly, a constant reminder to human conscience of poverty and suffering that mars the enjoyment of your own boons. The dog and I meet every day. Sometimes I whisper a word, sometimes he wags and sometimes we just look at each other, eye to eye.

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