By Dr. Kuhu Roy

From a stray on the streets of Mumbai to a prized possession of our home in Baroda, Superman Jalebi and my togetherness lasted for twelve years.

Monsoons and Mumbai, July of 2006 is what brought Jalebi in my life. A skinny mother dog, Georgina, whom I had met then for the first time, took me to proudly show her kids. Among the litter of five, there was a baby philosopher with a curled tail. Soon, the pup got named ‘Jalebi.’ He grew up to be a handsome dog. His white whiskers and smile were a reason enough for anyone to fall in love with him and not to forget, his super long curled tail. Though much of his time was spent in deep philosophy, he was a pig, give him anything to eat at any hour of the day, and he would never break your heart. He actually started looking like a pig later on, weighing nothing less than forty kilograms and his super curled tail only added to his piggy look. He was fond of gardening and chasing crows, infact, he once caught one accidentally and he himself went into a trauma while the crow flew away.

Jalebi used to vanish for almost a month during the Diwali time. He would return taking his own time, with no change in his health whatsoever and no signs of injury, which meant he was fed and much accepted by the local dogs. In the October of 2014, he as usual vanished for a month. When he returned, he was a bag of bones. A dog reduced from 40kgs to perhaps some 20 odd. In November, 2014, when their existence was being made miserable by the local residents, I brought the four chambers of my heart (Georgina, Jalebi, Tweeky and Orange) to Baroda. The first thing next day was to rush Jalebi to the vet because he was taking out blood in stools. A blood profile, x-ray and an ultrasound revealed physiologically normal state but strong possibility of a foreign object in his small intestine. In the following months, all that could be done to take that foreign object out was done. Nothing helped him, surgery was the only option left. A mere 15 kgs dog then, he would have collapsed on the OT itself, forget how post-op would have been. So, he had to live with it and I accepted it. The sole objective was to keep him happy and healthy for whatever time he was left with. It was a tragedy that a foodie like him had so many food restrictions then. I put to test all the diet therapy that I had ever learnt, translating principles of human nutrition to animal nutrition to stabilise his condition. Every time he had those bloody bouts, he pulled through, I still do not know how. Hence, he got prefixed as ‘Superman’ Jalebi.

At home, he was extremely popular among my friends. With my parents, he loved to watch Maa cook for him and she loved to feed him, with some typical grandmother-grandson conversations happening in-between. They always smiled in each other’s company. With papa, he would talk in a language of their own that only spoke of unconditional love. With me, he was my son, my soul. We would sit and watch TV together, Oggy and the cockroaches being our favourite cartooon show. We would sit to take our share of Vitamin D while I used to bask in his glory. I would sing him some really nice lullabies (I was especially proud of some of the lyrics that I had created in his honour) that he always found very melodious despite my horrible voice. We would play together in the evening, followed by his ‘Yeow dow meow’. He would watch me while I wrote incessantly, staring at the laptop as to what that contraption was, that kept me so occupied. I would talk to him in-between and he would nod his head in the Rajesh Khanna-Devanand style and then, his killer smile. During the night, he would need his bed and pillow (once used to sleep on a thorny door mat when in Mumbai) and a goodnight kiss. The days he used to be down (atleast once weekly), I have been by his side all the time, cleaned his blood stools and vomit, taken him to the vet, fed him and comforted him. I have given him as much time and love as I have to Butter.

All was well until the night of 13th June, 2018. At 1130pm, he developed breathlessness, his gums and tongue became white. It took me a minute to comprehend what was happening and the next moment I rushed to Maa to tell her that perhaps Jalebi was going. The vet’s phone was not available. I injected Jalebi with lifesaving drug, reminded him of the scores of battles we had won together. But, somewhere in my heart I knew he wanted to go so I told him if he wants to run free, to just go immediately and not suffer. Yet, with my obsession with trying to save lives till the last breath, I rushed him to the vet’s home along with my very close friend, Paromita didi, at 0130 in the night. The moment the vet looked at him, I knew it all. It was 230am by the time I returned home. Georgina kept avoiding looking at me and at Jalebi. Maa and me slept next to our Superman. At around 4, Jalebi took a look at his home, the tv, his biological mother, Georgina, and at me and he went off, I felt that because I was holding his hand throughout, while my other one was next to his heart. Period.

Hope and optimism in the darkest of hours is what Superman Jalebi stood for. My son was a fighter. I have forgotten the number of times we visited the vet in three and a half years time frame and I never used to be sure if I would bring him back alive. Yet, he showed the door to death countless times and sprung back to life with a smile, just as in this picture. Legends like Superman Jalebi never die.

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