Mishti, the Mirzapuri Labrador

By Gillian Wright

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Mishti was born in the town of Mirzapur on the banks of the Ganga, where the great river takes a sharp turn on her way down to the holy city of Benares. Mishti didn’t know she was born there, she just knew the warmth of her mother and the taste of milk. After two weeks, little golden, mewing Mishti opened her puppy eyes and saw her mother. Two weeks later, two hands came down and took her away.

These two hands belonged to Sally. Sally too had been born in Mirzapur and lived in her parents’ old house, the burra bungalow, next to the river in the quiet end of town. She cuddled Mishti as they drove there and Mishti looked up at her and out of the window at her first sight of the world outside. Her eyes were bright. Adventure was in her blood.

The car drove through the gates of the compound and came to a halt. Sally carried Mishti past the grapefruit and mango trees, and vegetable patches where hathi-chak and other mysterious vegetables were grown. She put her down on the lawn. Mishti smelt the grass. Clouds of butterflies fluttered between the bushes. Mishti tried to catch them.


The next morning, Mark and Gilly took a proper look at their new puppy. Her face was like a golden upside-down triangle and her ears flopped forward like two little upside-down triangles. She had silky smooth fur and neat little paws. Her eyes were shining, bright and black, and seemed lined with kajal. She looked alert, full of mischief and a little wild. And she was enormously bouncy.

As she was already ten months old, one great puppy problem was solved. She already knew not to do susu and potty in the house. But she still had a lot to learn, and Mark and Gilly had a lot to learn about her. First of all, they let her out to run around the garden. Then they took her for an experimental short walk around the block.

After breakfast Mishti explored her new home. It was much smaller than the big spaces of Mirzapur. But like the burra bungalow it was part home, part office. Visitors would drop in, not to buy carpets, but to discuss important things like the Future of India. Some came on her first day. Gilly invited them to sit down and have some tea. Mishti meanwhile decided to give them her special welcome. She hopped in the air to make her barks as loud as possible, and then sped towards them, her tail sweeping from side to side and knocking various pieces of bric-a-brac off the tables by the sofa. Gilly swooped down to move the teacups out of her reach just in time. The guests were the sort that didn’t like dogs. One of them screamed, but Gilly pulled Mishti away before she licked her, and managed to persuade her that she was only a friendly puppy. Mishti lay down and watched intently as they began their discussions.

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