When to the session of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death¹s dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish¹d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
by William Shakespeare
The other day I was at home in Thane, my brother took me near the burial grounds where my very first best friend - Jacky was laid to rest. Can’t believe it has been 8 long years since he passed away. Every memory of his is fresh in my mind. Just 6 months after my Grandma passed away, Jacky left for heavenly abode on 21st Jan, 2002. I and my brother both have always missed him and have never treated him as gone because he just went away physically. We have always felt his presence in our rough times and in our happiness. It is practice that we follow my brother and I, we seek his blessings along with god because we know he is watching us. I have constantly addressed Jacky as a Him and not it. It is a deliberate attempt because Jacky was more like a Human than animal. And because the bond that we shared was that of two great friends.
I was 5 years old at that time- badly wanted to visit the loo and was tugging my Mom ( my nemesis of that time- my younger bro was still a lot smaller than the whopping 6ft 1inches he is now and only a few days old in this world ) to take me to the nearest place where I could relive myself..my grandparents house. My grandfather saw me approaching his house from his favorite swing in the balcony and waved at me excitedly to come up and said there was a surprise for me. I ran upstairs only to be baffled by the BOW WOW sounds coming from behind the door. As the door opened, I was thrilled to see this beautiful 5-6 month year old pup with killer looks, golden & white fur and eyes that spelt the color and warmth of golden- red embers.
Not that I was head-over heels in love with him in my first meeting. In fact we started off on a terrible note. He was a tad bit hostile towards me and was restrained with a chain around his neck. But I remember clearly I wanted to stay with him. I remember I was staring at him for a long time..and was reluctant to leave my newfound object of curiosity. I had clearly never seen a dog as beautiful as him and I still maintain my stance till this day. Being a cross breed, his mom hailing from a rich Alsatian family and his father a stray( Sounds like filmy love story) he had qualities that encompassed the best of both worlds. When it came to naming him….he was called JACKIE, a very common name for Dogs back in 1988(I knew atleast 2 other Jackie’s of those times). Everyday after school I used to go to my grandparents place, to find him barking hysterically at me as if not liking my presence at all.( He absolutely hated sharing my grandparent’s attention with me). Then slowly because of my interest in him and partly because of the delicious biscuits I gave him we became best of mates. I even remember emulating him by drinking milk like him from a plate. We were very close, because we both were growing up together. I remember at many times I shared with him my teenage sorrows with him and he staring in a distance out of the grill like a keen listener and even licking my face when I would cry. Even at a tender age I knew this was a bond that would last a lifetime.
Jacky and I loved to go on long walks together. I remember I could man him from a very early age and we would go together to run errands. In fact, I felt proud when I was along with him. People-kids-aunties used to stop on the road to admire his beauty. Jacky used to love kids- kids of all ages, when let loose in the park he would play with them but never bite anyone. I was the only one whom he had bitten 3 times. Entirely my fault, I agree because of my naughtiness I had pulled his whiskers or tail and had landed in trouble. But there was something about him, this aggressive friend of mine used to feel guilty for biting me. He used to lie low and refrain from food (even if it was his favorite non-veg) for 2-3 days and would come back wagging his tail to me with a look that said “ I AM SORRY. Now please forgive me and let’s have some delicious biscuits…..I am very hungry). I clearly remember his steel round biscuit box where his special biscuits lay. We would immediately burry the hatchet and be the best of pals that we were.
Once when I was about 9 years old and Jacky about 4, my grandma was giving me food in the kitchen when we heard a “Bachao Bhacao” sound coming from the Bedroom. We were surprised to hear a male voice as we were the only ones in the house at that time. We rushed to see what was wrong and saw Jacky pouncing on a man with a hammer in his hand near the main Shelf. We quickly assessed what had happened and called for help. The guy admitted that he was the building painter and had wandered in thru the balcony with an intention of robbing the house. He did not know that this home had a dog. And boy a ferocious one at that! I sometimes wonder what would have happened to us, if Jacky wasn’t there for our rescue that day. Jacky had all the human qualities an animal would ever have. Not only was he very loyal he was very possessive about his things. Though a very friendly dog Jacky hated strangers coming to my grandpa’s house and touching our stuff. He hated the cable guy even worse and tore his shirt once for touching our tv. Whenever our uncle used to hang us by our legs upside down playfully, Jacky would jump on him till the time we were let go. He absolutely adored us! Whenever we went on an outdoor picnic in my uncle’s car or bus he used to always sit beside me and put his head out of the window and peek outside. He loved feeling the breeze on his face. Whenever alerted “Ketaki has come” he used to go to the door and wait for me to arrive. He was a highly alert dog and hated staying alone at home. I remember my angry young friend had once torn all the newspapers in anguish because he was left alone.
Jacky was a very energetic dog and loved playing with rubber bushings from my Uncle’s cars rather than red rubber balls. He loved hunting Mice and helped my uncle in tracing them. Jacky used to kill the mice but he never ate them. Taking Jacky to a vet was an experience in itself. He would put up a tantrum or two during his vet visits and had to be muzzled. My brave friend used to cry at the sight of his vet and the big syringe of his vaccination. He would then be angry on us for taking him there and would lie low for a day before barking his way back to his ebullient original self. We would love to give him baths. But trust me he hated it. I still have the smell of his wet fur polished with clean and clear shampoo lingering in my nose. He used to look so vulnerable and dangerous both at the same time with his wet fur. Finally when he was all dry he used to look amazing and clean. I and my grandma used to take out the lice from his body (Which he would have imported form his stray frinds) and he would allow us to do that only on his terms. We had to show him the lice before putting them away. He used to smell it first and then allow us to throw it. Even if he had to puke, he was so considerate that he would go and do it only in the Balcony to spare my grandma the horror of cleaning it in the house. Jacky used to them go down and eat some grass to help him feel better.
Jacky was a typical male. He atleast had 5 girlfriends in our locality but his favorite was a black and white female stray. If Jacky went missing for more than a couple of hours we knew where to find him. J Infact many times I used to play with him, I used to give him a gender bender by getting him all dolled up by applying talcum powder, a small bindi on his forehead (Which this intelligent friend of mine used to remove with his paw) and he used to look so cute with it and a duppata draped around his head. I used to tie ribbons around his neck and tail and trust me he hated it. It is as if he always knew all this was meant for sissy dogs and he was a MAN. When indulged in fights he would bravely fight for his women and scorn at other fellows by gritting his molars and making fierce growling sounds. He used to get hurt but he never used to give up.
We practically grew up together- he saw me through my KG Years, Primary, secondary, high school and college days. My grandpa called me oneday to tell Jacky was very sick and old and he had gone down but was unable to climb up the stairs. Even my uncle and grandpa tried getting him up but could not. I was apprehensive of hurting him but slowly I picked him up and he climbed the stairs on his hind legs and waited in intervals. I was surprised how at ease he felt with me and was ready to come up with me because he felt I could be trusted.
Jacky passed away a few days after that. I was not with him at that time. I was away in college. This is something that I will regret all my life. My brother called me to tell me the fatal news. I was very disturbed. I had lost my soul mate. We had spent nearly 15 years of precious time together. He had been there for me in my every joy and sorrow. And now he was gone. But before going he instilled me with something very precious. He taught me to be compassionate for his kind. I learnt to love all animals. He was the one who increased my affinity towards animals. I came to know that animals are selfless-beings who love you back with unconditional love only because of him.
Jacky is the very reason behind my interest in helping out those who don’t have a voice!
Jacky is woven integrally in my childhood and adolescence memory. He was my first best friend….and he will always be remembered and his presence will always be cherished.
Jacky, I miss you direly dear……..
Circa Mid 1990's