Rashmi herself is handicapped, her right hand is partly paralysed. From a young age, she faced discrimination and bullying for being a ‘cripple’. She says she still cannot understand how people can be so cruel, adding that her special bond with dogs probably comes from identifying with the way the animals are also mistreated by humankind.
“For me, humans are the ones more difficult to deal with in this world,” she explains matter-of-factly. “I have seen people abandoning their own pets on the streets, some leave them to suffer in cages. I cannot understand why they bring home a dog or a cat only to leave them on the streets.”
While on her morning rounds, Rashmi’s neighbours stop by to chat with her. Strangers sometimes ask her why she is feeding the dogs, and they cannot understand why she does it.
“These animals cannot express themselves in a way we humans understand, they cannot ask for help. People are mean to them, they throw hot water or rocks, beat them with sticks,” she says. “Some people even say hurtful things even while I am feeding them. But at least these dogs know not all humans are nasty in this life that we are living together.”
Although she may sound despondent, Rashmi see hope in young people in her neighbourhood who stop by to pet the dogs she is feeding. Many say they do not have dogs are home, but would like to have one. Rashmi recognises every dog on the streets by their names, and introduces them to the children.