Somewhere between the journey from birth to adulthood, most of us start believing that human lives are more precious than any others. That the moral worth of a human life is somehow greater than that of a firefly, a sparrow or a ladybird is an idea which has no logical explanation, and yet most of us buy into it eventually. But there are some exceptions, like Hyder Ali, a Malappuram native in Kerala, who went out of his way to help of a stray dog trapped in a dry well for 30 days.
In late November, Ali, who resides in Malappuramâ€™s Karuvarankundu town, heard from rubber tappers employed by his neighbour that a stray dog had jumped into a dry well in the 15-acre rubber estate, and was stuck inside.
The unused well in the neighbouring plot was barely 50 metres from his house. When Ali visited the area, he noticed the big dog yelping inside the dry well which had no water, but mounds of plastic waste instead.
â€śThe well was about 35 feet deep and completely dry. However, it was filled with household waste and garbage from the nearby salon and grocery stalls etc. The dog stood on top of the waste mound and unsuccessfully attempted to leap out of the well,â€ť Ali recounts.
Although he attempted to seek help from several friends and acquaintances in his neighbourhood, Ali says that nobody was moved enough by the dogâ€™s plight to offer to rescue it.
â€śI wonâ€™t blame them, but they didnâ€™t think it was a big deal. It was a stray dog, not a human being who was trapped inside. So, they went on with their lives,â€ť Ali says matter-of-factly.
Upon realising that the animal could not be rescued soon, Ali decided help it survive at least. For over one month from November 17, the 46-year-old brought food and water from his house to the well and fed the dog thrice a day.
â€śI would feed him whatever was cooked at home, sometimes even before I ate. Some days, I would mix rice and fish or rice and chicken, carefully wrap it up in a newspaper and lower the packet down with a rope. I would then pour water into a vessel or a plastic cover and lower it down the same way. I wrapped the food using newspaper so that it wouldnâ€™t mix with the plastic scrap inside the well,â€ť Ali explains.
Out of excitement on sensing the food being lowered, the dog, in its excitement would end up snapping and pulling at the rope on the pulley, causing it to break. Each time this happened, Ali would go to the local supplies store and buy a fresh rope for the next day.
On December 17, help finally arrived in the form of a seven-member team of the Emergency Rescue Force in Malappuram. Ali had procured their number from a local newspaper and intimated them about trapped dog.
â€śIt was hardly an emergency rescue operation, but we finally managed to get him out safe,â€ť he says with a chuckle.
A member of the Force was secured with a belt and lowered into the well. He covered the animal with a net and then finally pulled him up to safety.
Speaking to TNM, Abdul Majeed, state coordinator of the ERF said that the team had come prepared with medicines and ointment in case the dog had sustained wounds. However, on inspection of the animal, they found that he had not sustained any scratches or injuries during its 30-day ordeal, and hence decided to release him.
â€śAs he looked healthy enough, we decided to release him back into the streets. If the dog escaped not just unscathed, but perfectly healthy from this traumatising ordeal, it is only thanks to Hyder Ali,â€ť Majeed says.
A tailor by profession, Ali says that he had imbibed this worldview of helping those in need from his mother, Fathima, who never noticed differences between human beings and other living things. He allows fireflies, birds, stray animals to thrive inside the garden he has grown around his house.
â€śI take care to grow fruit bearing trees like mulberry, guava and chamba (a local sour fruit), so that the birds who arrive in my garden can feed on them. I watch these birds come, lay their eggs, raise their families and flutter away,â€ť he says.
As for the dog that he tended to for 30 days, Ali knows that he may not see it again. However, he is happy that it turned back and wagged its tail before running away to freedom.