… and this one is about the FAMILY. No, not of the Corleone Connections, or even the Dynastic Dumbos, but of those who truly are , more that humans ever possibly could despite being born to the same parents (humans, I mean). The kindest, and the darlingest, the cuddliest, the peskiest, the charmingest, the most appealing, and the most loving of all…. and there I mean the unconditional sort!
Knowing the sort of pet lover I am, I know you have, by now, guessed who this family is. It’s a pretty long list, and I wanted each of them to have their due, so it’s going be a sort of series. (Go on and look exasperated! I mean one post on them would do, na? Why a series?? Lord help!!! 🙂 ) Hush, there, I’d like to soothe you 🙂 If you like looking at them, or even petting them, perhaps you might like to know more of some of them, perhaps? IHM has, on her blog, shared with us so many moments with her Gabbar Singh and Sher Khan, :). Have been waiting to write on my lot, for an aeon. And I shall hold myself back no longer 🙂
So this one is about Ammini and Kunji (അമ്മിണി & കുഞ്ഞി, that is Malayalam, because Kunhji has a very very Malayalee pronunciation 🙂 )
We’ve always had pets, right from when we were young. Mom used to grumble about having to look after them but we all KNOW for a fact that she was their most ardent supporter and defender, no matter what she actually said ! Growing up, we had a mixed breed called Judy, who met an untimely death, when she was left with my grandparents in Kerala for a couple of weeks. Run over :(. We had Brownie, the cat who shifted with us from our house in Jayamahal Extension, Bangalore, to Rajmahal Extension, about 4 kms away; but returned, to the old house, in a couple of days, on his own. He never did return to us, though he remained looked after by the next lot of tenants. Thank God for small mercies!
Then came Bunny, the pitch black Labrador, and Dusty, a sand coloured Alsatian Puppy. Bunny was wildly excited, enthusiastic, my YB’s best buddy, and died tragically in 1984. He was spooked while on a walk, ran off, and returned with a serious wound a few days later. There was no hope for him, as septicemia had set in, and he had to be put down to relieve him of his agony. He was just six. Dusty, a few months old, passed on because of food poisoning. That was in early 1984. 26 years ago. A year later, because we really missed having someone more, we got a pair of miniature Alsatians, Tiny and Caesar 🙂 They were loving too, but since Dad got a transfer to Bombay, and could not really manage to take them there, they were adopted by a friend, and were well taken care of. Luckily. After that, the thought of losing someone that we were all so attached to, was tough. So we never got around to having either dog or cat for a very very long time. It’s really hard, as I know, most of you do know too, losing them; just as it is to lose a member of the family.
And so we come to Ammini and Kunhji 🙂 Ammini came to us in 1999. An adorable Alsatian pup; we brought her from my YB’s friend’s place, where her dad KUNJU was ruler of the roost 🙂 By then, my parents had settled in Cherplassery, dad’s home, and a spate of burglaries around the place, the most recent being their neighbour, prompted them to consider getting help with alerting them to such situations. As Dad put it, not so much to guard or attack, but to know if someone who should not be around is there 🙂 🙂 Very true, even for me, nowadays. And so came Ammini.
She has been perhaps the most human of all the souls of our extended family, more human than a lot of people, friends and relatives I know 🙂 She had a gentleness that was so part of her personality. A way with kids, a way with the kitten my mother found abandoned nearby, and brought home. That’s Kunhji. The cat.
Together they had a life that was quite exceptional. Ammini was adored by our neighbours, friends, relatives, the kids’ friends, babies, children, even those who were afraid of dogs would find themselves petting her quite delightedly. But that did not mean she was a cakewalk for anyone to get by her. She knew who was who. Dogs, they say, can sense. And she was an epitome of this sensibility. She sat through Kunhji’s labour, and delivery, 😛 taking very good care of the kitten too; though she never had any of her own. The picture below, though not very well taken would perhaps give you a glimpse into the nature of that loving souls. Souls. Kunhji too.
Here was a cat, Kunhji, for whom travelling in a car was fun, just like her playmate Ammini. She loved to travel. In the picture below, you can just imagine :D! She would stay on the same side as Ammini, and make sure she got enough window space! Never once did she think of taking a leap outside. That, my present labrador did (that’s a story for another post 🙂 🙂 )I think she had an identity crisis, just like the cat I have now, because she didn’t have her mother to tell her she was a cat. 😀 Growing up with a dog, kind of confused her I guess 🙂 🙂
Kunhi had three litters of kitten. One kitten in each of them. The first survived only a few weeks. The second, whose picture you see, was, again, born in my house (I tell you, I have been midwife to both cat and dog- seriously! More on the dog midwifery later 😀 ) With her second kitten, a strange thing happened. They were at home with my mother and Ammini, when one evening, a sound was heard from upstairs. Till five minutes before that, mother and daughter (Ammu, Kunhji’s daughter ) were playing near Mom, with Ammini. A bit after that sound, Mom went to investigate, and found nothing. But ever since, Ammu was not to be seen. Ever. Mom with the help at home scoured the entire house, and neighbourhood, sent word to everyone living around, and looked for her, for days on end. She never was seen again. It was tragic, again, that none of Kunhji’s litter ever lived beyond a few months. But she still stayed close to Mom and Ammini, travelled with us, and very unlike a cat, stayed with us on the travels between my parents’ home and ours. This is one other reason I firmly believe in re-incarnation, for I am sure she has been and always will be family, in any lifetime we happen to be in! As with Ammini!
It was stranger still what happened with Kunhji. She had travelled with my parents and Ammini to my home. She simply disappeared one day, the same as how her kitten did. And we never saw her again. 😦
In 2005, Ammini suddenly, one day, took ill. Her hind legs turned weak and before I could get there, and get help on the way, she died, in mummy’s lap. The vet. believes it could have been a heart attack. She was in her prime. And had nothing else to show for any kind of ill health. To say that it was tragic is an understatement. Even when I think of it, or speak of it, I choke up. As I am now. Mom almost went catatonic. I have never seen her grieve so. Never, even after that. She went into a sort of depression that was very hard for her to recover from; she left home to be with her sons for a few weeks, but nothing could blot out the misery, till finally she took hold of herself. Being the strong person she is, she finally let Ammini go. But by now, she needed someone else. Dad was away on an assignment, so we got Appu, a lanky boisterous Alsatian; just two months old. Mom finally learned to get over Ammini, but she will have a place in our hearts like none before or after her.
Of all the family we have adopted over the years, Ammini and Kunhji stand out, not for the warmth they shared between themselves, but for what they meant to us. Even now, we, none of us, like to say “dog” or “cat” for these members of our family 🙂 We insist that they be referred to by their names. Now you know that we ought to be certified. Obviously. And, all for the Family 🙂 🙂
Note: The pictures are rather terrible I know. Well, I fished them out of old albums and since I could not get them scanned, which would have made them immensely clearer, I realize, I simply took pictures of the pictures. Talk of short-cuts. So that is why they look unfocussed and grainy. Do pardon the expressly inadequate visuals; but, for me, they still hold the magic that Ammini and Kunhji created 🙂
And.. *sigh*… 1564 words!
25th to 26th July, 2010
Family Part II – Chinnu, Appu, Malu 🙂 On the blog, soon :D! 😆