“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Today afternoon as I gave Sancho his food, I took a morsel from his bowl and threw it in the direction of Tommy’s grave. Tommy died day before yesterday. He was only 12 years old; had a couple more years in him. But since last three weeks he had been ailing. I had been force-feeding him all these days. It started with urinary tract infection. Then a cyst was found in his urinary bladder. In the last week he developed complications of the liver. All sort of possible medicines were administered, miracle was hoped for. On Thursday night he limped into my room and slept beside me on the floor. Occasionally I would wake up, caress and whisper to him. Friday morning, I gave him Glucose and water. He tried to get up a couple of times, fell down, but dragged himself out to the courtyard. Exhausted, he passed a little urine, I could see, with lot of pain. I gave him a sponging with Dettol and warm water. Tommy laid his head on my lap. With my right hand I fanned off the flies. And then, with a little yelp, he went away.

Though there were always dogs in my house, Tommy was the first one to be born here. His mother, Kunchi, had a long innings but succumbed to Mastitis. Tommy was an ordinary mongrel, if you go by breeds. But, those who knew him would agree that Tommy was the most elegant, refined, cultured, wise dog that ever walked on this earth. He had a gentle way with him. I remember the numerous occasions when persons who were scared or disliked dogs visited us. Tommy would immediately sense their unease. It was a treat to see how he would gently, lovingly win their trust. Many are those who became dog-lovers after meeting Tommy.

I had carried him as a new-born pup; now I carried him as I carefully put him down in his grave. I miss him terribly. I miss his trusting, loving, caring eyes. I miss his wet nose and kiss. I miss him, I miss him so much.

******** Balachandran, Trivandrum 25.04.2010.

Below is a poem I wrote on Tommy a few years ago.

Lessons in Love

It ain’t easy to write about love,

The blind can see better than I.

The deaf has ears sharper than mine,

The dumb has voice sweeter than mine.

What do I feel, what do I sense

I do not know what is love.

Is it sorrow, is it joy,

Is it the lust betwixt my legs?

I listen to songs, if I feel the same

I like the lines, nothing more.

I read the books, stare at the words,

Aay bee cee dee, eee eff gee.

Weary from travel, home am bound

Opens the gate- then hears the bark.

A blur of a dog leaps at me

I can’t see, for he licks my eyes.

I can’t walk, for he jumps at me,

Bites me, pulls me, howls at me.

Am scratched with nails, splattered with dirt,

He tugs my shirt and whirls around.

Sitting on haunches, I hug him close

Taking care he not bites my nose.

His cheeks on mine, kisses on ears,

In my arms he holds so still.

In my arms, is the thing called love

In my heart, a cup so full.

In his eyes, the limpid pools,

I see my face, I know it not.

Ladies and Gents, your lesson in love.


Kottayam 18/08/04


  1. I am not much of a dog lover, but this one really made me feel sad, and also selfish. So many times, I have stopped my boy from bringing home an ailing puppy, just because, I dont seem to like them much. This really made me sad of your loss and mine!

  2. Our family was never complete without dogs so far..Last one was a cross breed BRUTO which still gives us a deep pain in our heart by its death and ma mom vowed dat we wont keep any dogs as we are unable to bear the pain of losing...We miss all our faithful friends who lived and grew with us and in a span left all of us..

  3. Your love for Tommy is well evident here.
    Great tribute to your loyal mate at home. One of the reasons why I hate to bring up a puppy in my home is that I couldn't bear its departure after creating a good bond with the family. I had a long and extended lull period after the loss of my pet cat who was my best friend right from my school days.
    As usual a really touching post.
    Balan sir, hope your health is ok now.

  4. im so sorry to hear that tommy died. tommy did have a good time being ur pet, ur favourite.d pain is excruciating, i know. i too have gone thru this. my two kittens and dog died so young. i vowed i will not bring another pet to my home as i cannot go thru one more heartbreak.

    B, will u bring another puppy to ur home. it might help me get over tommy's death, at least little by little.

  5. @sujata: Love and pain are, to use a cliche', two sides of a coin. I cannot tell you the happiness a dog can give a child. Having a dog to love and care for, instills valuable human qualities in a child. It also teaches them to love all creatures and the whole world itself. I look forward to the day when you will give your son a puppy. Thank you for consoling me.

    @ Sangita: Yes, the loss of loved ones, especially someone like a dog which gives you unbridled love and loyalty is a pain too much to bear. In my life hitherto I have laid 6 dogs to earth. Every time, I have gone through excruciating pain; but I have memories of great happiness.
    Sangita, remember that we too are mortal. Does it deter us from loving our family members and friends? Does it stop from having children? Death is a part of life. All you can own are happy memories... Thank you so much for your words.

    @Subu: Yeah, I am perfectly OK. It was a totally uncalled for scare - I am talking about my pseudo cardiac problem. I have the same thing to tell you, what I told Sangita. In fact, as soon as you lose a dog, get another one. Remember the poem by Siegfried Sassoon. Thanks, Subodh. One day soon we have to go for a ride...

    @Sumi: Sancho, Tommy's son is here sleeping beside my feet. He is distraught and upset, I can feel. We are going to get him a girl friend soon. :)

    If one tries to avoid pain, S, love will avoid you too. One has to live with it, however painful it be.

  6. I knew Tommy, and I share your pain. I do believe his soul will watch over your home

  7. Just a couple of days ago I wondered why there was no post on Tomy yet.
    As all things have to pass so he too.
    And as you say perhaps "the most dogly of dogs".

  8. @gopu: thank you for your words, Gopu! It is quite sometime since I heard from you.

    @Anil: Dey, You knew him as long and as well as I did...

  9. Dear Balan,
    I have read your tribute to your loyal companion and it made me so very sad. I am sad for such things as this that have to cross our paths..but oh, the precious memories of the yesterdays. I know you must miss him so terribly. Obviously, he was a special, gentle animal in so many ways...I can not ease the pain and sorrow but the happy day memories, will help... Beautiful, heartfelt write... Sandy

  10. Reading your post I got reminded of the movie Marley and Me. I’m scared of dogs, the other day even a pug scared me, can you believe it? From this post one can sense your affection for Tommy. In Bangalore, where I live, one can see them everywhere, lazy, fat strays napping. In some areas they are a real menace, especially at night. Whenever I have to work late, I make sure that I down a couple of pegs while coming back in order to muster some courage to face them.

  11. Hi Balanji even we had a small black coloured puppy and interestingly we had named him 'Hitler'. My elder brother only use to take care of him and when he left home after for pursuing his higher studies my parents decided to give away 'Hitler' to somebody else. I was the one who went with my mom to drop Hitler... and those though still brings tears in my eyes. I can share the pain.

  12. @kalpana : Thanks for the thoughts, K!


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