Karthik Pasupathy (aka KP)

Did my father ever think about Jimmy?

Karthik Pasupathy (aka KP)

A dog’s memories stay with its owner for as long as they are alive.

Jimmy is a familiar name. At least among those who grew up in Tamil Nadu. It’s the most common name for domesticated dogs that were born in the 80s, like how “Karthik” was common for most Tamil men born during the late 80s-90s.

I have vague memories of Jimmy when I grew up. I’ve heard most of it through my mom and dad.

I’m not sure how Jimmy came into our family. Dad said a friend of his brought in a stray pup, and it got the name “Jimmy”. What can I say? My family lacked creativity, and they didn’t want to name the pup “Subramani” after Moondram Pirai.

Jimmy grew up too pampered. Dad used to say Jimmy knew the sound of dad’s cycle bell when he entered the street, and he could hear the barking from far away. My dad had another associate – a cat. It was a weird one. It used to visit our house only for meals, and it ate namkeen all the time. My family always had a pack of ‘kaara sevu’ in a giant Calcium Sandoz bottle on top of the TV unit, just for the cat.

Apart from eating the ‘Kaara sevu’, the cat hung out with Jimmy in the afternoons, and spent the evenings on a compound wall at the end of the street. When my dad entered the street, the cat used to walk over compound walls, along with my dad. Jimmy, on the other hand, was lazy. Lazy enough to look at a robber once and sleep again.

One night, everyone at the house was sound asleep. A robber jumped into our house and opened the window to take a peek inside. He was daring enough to stand next to sleeping Jimmy. Jimmy, being the mighty, woke up, looked at him, and slept again. Makes me think if Jimmy is the laziest dog that ever lived.

My dad’s elder sister, who’s a bit of a hard nut to crack, melted every time she was around Jimmy. The dog always got VIP treatment around her. Legend says I used to wrestle with the dog when I was a toddler. Mom used to say whenever we went to Chennai for vacation, the dog wouldn’t let us in until we gave him six months’ worth of cuddles and kisses.

Jimmy lived a full life. We came to know about Jimmy’s end through an inland letter. We didn’t have a phone back then, and we were living far away. We couldn’t go. But we knew Jimmy was buried somewhere in our backyard. I don’t know if my dad cried. But, he never adopted a dog again. He said he won’t be able to bear the loss of another Jimmy.

A few years later, we moved back to the house Jimmy grew up in. We spent the next 15 years in that house. And dad hardly mentioned Jimmy. Several times, I’ve seen him sit on the porch smoking a cigarette, lost in his thoughts. Was he thinking of Jimmy? Was he regretting not being with him in his last moments? I never figured out. If I’m thinking of Jimmy every now and then, I bet he would’ve too…more than I ever could.