By Sandip K Roy
It all happened in 1975-76 when my father got a house constructed in Salt Lake City , a satellite then , in the NE edge of Calcutta. During the construction heaps of sand, stone chips , bricks etc used to be dropped near the site. During the construction , a grown up, dull orange coloured Indian Dog( some element of Labrador lineage) used to sit on the top of the sand heap , in a majestic chin up posture and keeping a keen eye on anyone approaching or leaving. Without doubt, he was an self appointed custodian of everything there. His name: JIMMY. The house got constructed , we moved in and so did Jimmy. In the verandah attached to the front portico of the house, Jimmy would be alert and on guard. He would eat whatever we ate excepting crustaceans. Without doubt, fish bones and bones of meat were a super hit with him.
Our showering on him would still keep him strait faced. Other strays , wondering in packs if they encountered Jimmy, would make huge noises but Jimmy nonchalantly would ignore them and walk of in princely fashion.He would accompany my mother , whenever she visited someone in the neighbourhood or to the local market and sit and wait for her and then accompany her back. Whenever my sister and myself would take the local Government bus for visiting a nearby market, Jimmy would sometimes get up on the bus much to the consternation of the fellow passengers and the bus conductor. No amount of persuasion to get him off the bus would have effect. In the market, he would follow us and wait outside each shop we visited, and while returning he would take the walking route of 4 kms through an open country side of a developing township which had plenty of open spaces.
A few months after Jimmy adopting us, came a black dog which looked like an Alsatian settled at our home and was promptly named ALSI. Jimmy and Alsi would be guarding the house 24 by 7 on either side of the verandah like sentinels. They had their share of sibling fights and also participated together in activities like chasing a cat or trying to catch a rat. While Jimmy would be very successful in his hunting and would show off with his prized catch, Alsi was forever unsuccessful and would often end up with a bruised nose and a blushed face. Unlike Jimmy, Alsi was very reciprocal in receiving and sharing affection.
Both Jimmy and Alsi were grown up when they adopted us and am guessing must have been then 4-5 years old. Both of them had a steady 10 years with us after that and left a lasting impression on the entire family. During the course of time, we came to know they had escaped from nearby homes due to ill treatment by their owners and chose freedom over torture. The original owners also never bothered to have them back. At that time, even in Calcutta, there were very few vets and far away and getting them treated was an issue. My father used his best judgement and treated them with medicines available during that time.
Prior to Jimmy and Alsi, while staying in Government accommodation’s, my sister and self did come across strays and kittens and did love them and feed them. We were too young to do anything beyond that. It all came instinctively and from within. Our parents never restrained us, although the surrounding society was either unconcerned or were against them .
Once, one night around 3 am Jimmy and Alsi were barking a lot and my father got up. Half asleep , I could hear my father shouting ” chor chor” . My father restrained me from chasing the thief who quickly slinked off into a green verge adjacent to our house. Another time they were barking when a giant snake was cozy on the guava tree of our backyard and alerted us.
Both Jimmy and Alsi left lasting impression and is tucked away somewhere in my heart.
Later, Key tui?, ( who are you in Bengali) , unusual name alright, one of the grandchildren of Jimmy stayed with us for a long time. Key tui was once struggling with a huge bone struck in her throat and was saved by intervention of our daughter Kuhu( hardly six years or less) who insisted on a vet, who came and got the bone out and key tui was saved.