Continues from Jimmy Boy - Part 2
After a few years in Guntur our family moved to Vijayawada, as Mom got a job as a lecturer in a famous college. We sold our house and moved lock, stock and barrel to Vijayawada. This was the turning point in Jimmy's life as we had moved into a house which had 2 other portions. This meant Jimmy had to be kept on leash lest he wandered into the neighbour's area and relieved himself. He immensely disliked it having enjoyed unimaginable freedom for the first 10 years of his life. He barked for days on end, tugged at the leash and made several futile attempts to chew away the leash. To ease his pain we made a longish leash which ensured he could wander till the confines of our house. He got used to this over the months but he still severely missed the wide open yard, his old pals – the garden lizards and the butterflies.
In the first few days though he was the cynosure of all eyes because of his unique looks and mixed heritage. Since he was put on a leash and had little freedom, me and my brother and occasionally Dad took him out each morning and evening on a tour of the colony. It gave him an opportunity to meet the neighbourhood dogs and sniff new scents. He and the other dogs were on quite friendly terms and I should say this veteran was quite a hit with the females (of both species, dogs and humans). Which brings me to his sex life, which I should sadly admit was non-existent till then! I was in my teens then and understood that all animals had such wants and wondered if this celibate would ever have that opportunity. I never dared suggest this to Dad though.
Then one day, Jimmy disappeared. His leash was torn and he wasn't to be found anywhere. We searched the neighbourhood on bicycles and those who knew us and Jimmy if he was seen anywhere, but to no avail. Then word came through a domestic help who works in another part of the region that he was spotted there. We rushed ther but again he managed to elude us. We came back with heavy hearts fearing that he ran away from us, which was very difficult to digest. Mom sent us to School so that we would put it behind us but it was impossible to pay any attention to what was happening. We went back home in the evening and found that he hasn't returned yet. We quickly set out in search of him again. Just as we came out of the house, we saw him in a distance, dragging himself back. He looked very tired and ragged but I was sure I saw a look of immense satisfaction on his face. He drank a lot of water and ate whatever Mom gave him. We were all of course thrilled that he was back with us! I did not realise it at the moment but when I later thought about it I hoped he found the only thing missing from his life till then, which i mentioned above! That probably explained the look of satisfaction I saw on his face. The grizzly veteran finally did it (hopefully)!
It was amazing that he lived so long. By 1996 he was 14, a rare age for a Dog. Age mellowed him and also ravaged his body. He lost most of his brownish mane was his skin was a mass of open wounds. He lost his appetite and eyesight. He would frequently bump into the wall or the bushes while walking. He developed fits later on and it after that he refused to come out for walks and rarely ventured out of his kennel. We took him to a Vet who was amazed that he lived so long and advised us against any medicines as he was very very old and should be allowed to die a natural death. We considered mercy killing but were not able to bring ourselves to do it.
It was March 10th 1996. The Cricket World Cup was on and India was playing Pakistan in a tense Quarterfinal match at Bangalore. The whole of India was watching it with bated breath as India riding on a Jadeja onslaught on Waqar posted a challenging total for Pakistan. We were watching the match in the neighbouring house at our relatives place, Anwar and Sohail started in a superb fashion. Everyone was fearing the worst and there was silence in the room. Since we were just next door we heard Mom calling us. Looking from the gate I feared the worst as Dad was bringing a rickshaw and mom was standing there sobbing. Jimmy had died a few minutes back. Me and my brother sobbed uncontrollably. We buried him in an open field nearby.
By the time we came back, word had spread that Jimmy died and the neighbours and our relatives congregated to offer their condolences and console us. Our relatives took us with them thinking the cricket match would help divert attention. Venkatesh Prasad clean bowled Aamir Sohail (the famous incident that is recounted by every cricket fan, wide eyed) and the room erupted. It was probably the only time we dint cheer when India did well in a cricket match.
Even now when we see replays of that incident, I feel a sense of loss. Jimmy was like the third son to our parents and a dear brother. He gave us a lot of memories to recount. Its almost 11 years to the day since he died and I have never recounted Jimmy's life in this detail to anyone. These are the bits of memories we share whenever the family conversation diverts to him! He holds a special place in our hearts.