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Pagli playing with the strays

Through a series of events involving the care of puppies, the narrator undergoes a transformation in his understanding of a little girl who is called Pagli (A Psycho) in the community, highlighting the importance of looking beyond surface judgments and recognizing the humanity within each individual.

In every community, there are often individuals labeled with terms that carry a heavy weight of judgment and stigma. In our neighborhood too, there is a little girl who is commonly known as Pagli, the Bengali term that translates to “psycho” in English. For a long time, many of us perceived her as a troubled soul, wandering aimlessly, and causing discomfort to those around her. However, a recent encounter shed new light on the true essence of Pagli’s character and challenged our preconceived notions.

Pagli is a familiar sight in our streets, often seen loitering without purpose, making requests for chocolates at shops, and sometimes even venturing uninvited into people’s homes in search of water or other provisions. Her presence invokes fear and discomfort among the other children in the neighborhood, leading to avoidance and exclusion. I, too, held similar perceptions until a pivotal moment changed my perspective.

One fine day, four young stray puppies arrived in our neighborhood. This brought both joy and responsibility to our community. It became customary for us to care for and feed these adorable creatures daily. However, on the third day, a troubling incident occurred when Pagli attempted to take one of the puppies away in a bag. Multiple interventions were required to prevent her from doing so, leading to frustration and anger among the residents.

The following day, a sense of panic gripped me as I discovered the puppies missing. Initially suspecting Pagli’s involvement, my assumptions were swiftly debunked when I found the puppies safe and sound in a nearby area. It was then that I encountered Pagli once more, devoid of her bag. Curiosity prompted me to inquire about her intentions, leading to a revelation that shattered my preconceived notions.

Pagli with a stray dog

In a moment of clarity, Pagli expressed her affection for dogs and revealed her genuine desire to care for them. Her innocence and sincerity resonated deeply as I witnessed the bond between her and the puppies. In that moment, I extended an invitation for her to play with the dogs whenever she pleased, to which she responded with a heartwarming smile.

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However, the story doesn’t end here. A stark contrast presented itself in the form of a neighbor’s son, a  child who studies in a reputed school, who displayed cruelty towards the innocent animals. His actions, fueled by misguided instructions from his guardians, raised a poignant question: Who truly embodies the essence of a “psycho” in our neighborhood?

In this narrative, the term “Pagli” transcends its negative connotations, serving as a poignant reminder to challenge our perceptions and embrace empathy. While Pagli may not conform to societal norms, her genuine compassion towards animals contrasts starkly with the calculated cruelty inflicted by those deemed “normal.” In a world where labels often cloud our judgment, it is imperative to seek understanding beyond surface appearances and recognize the inherent humanity within each individual, regardless of their outward demeanor.

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