Tom- man’s best friend

Ever since we settled in India we have had two guard dogs. They were not allowed in the house, but were free to roam the compound in the evenings, once the gates were locked.

They were always named Tiger and Jimmy. When a Tiger died, he was replaced with another Tiger and similarly Jimmy with another Jimmy. Occasionally one of them was called Tom. We only needed the one, but the two kept each other company. Most of the time they got on with each other, following each other around. Some of them fought like cats and mice, so much so that at one time both the dogs had a blind eye each, one inflicted on the other. Very few escaped through gaps in the gate and got run over, but most of them died of old age.

I am not a dog lover and never took much notice of them when I visited home. I was just glad that they were there to look after my parents when we were not around, which is most of the year.

Over the years as my dad’s business folded up, the time the gates were locked and the dogs released got earlier and earlier.
When we visited home, and if we were out late, my dad had to distract them, while amma unlocked the gates and sneaked us in.

Tom has been around a few years now. His companion broke loose one night and was found dead the next morning and my parents didn’t have time to get another dog. So for my last few visits, it was just Tom on his own. He knew me by sight, although I only visit home twice a year and that too for short visits. He wouldn’t bark at me, but still I kept my distance.

I think my dad grew quite fond of Tom by the time he died and made it a point to share some of his snacks with him every evening. I found out from my mum the other day that Tom died last weekend. Normally it wouldn’t have meant anything, but this time it was different.

Tom has never been left on his own for too long. After my dad died and my mother went to Canada, he has been on his own. Alphonsa visits him twice a day to feed, water and wash him. I have often wondered whether he was ok. Amma tells me now that he had been inconsolable since she left for Canada and had been walking around crying all the time. I have heard of dogs and their masters, but have never experienced it. The unconditional love of an animal who cannot speak. Looks like he died of a broken heart. If I ever meet up with him, will he ask us why we abandoned him when he needed us.

I hope he has met up with my dad wherever he is and his soul can now finally rest in peace.

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