A forward from a friend of mine with a lot of pics of a small pup brought back a flood of memories of Tillu. Don’t know why... I remembered Tillu...
Tillu was our pet Dog. He came to us as a bundle of white and black fur ball. I remember that day very clearly, Appa asked our servant maid to bring us a pup so that my brother (then a very small kid) would stay at home. She first brought us a black pup. Although it looked cute.. some how Amma didn’t like it. She brought another which had one black eye :) and then she brought Tillu. We immediately fell in love with him… This was twelve years back.......
There are several incidents that come to my mind when I think of him.
It was fun watching him on a mosaic floor. He never walked on it for the first few days. When he tried, he'd slip and fell flat on his nose. But slowly, he learnt and he soon became a master at it....
We had a huge garden and we let Tillu run free there. He ruled the garden and fiercely protected his Kingdom. He was the uncrowned Prince of the garden .... The first animal that he killed was a chameleon. We had left him in the garden that day and when we returned we saw Tillu, waiting eagerly for us to show us his kill.. He led us to his priced kill and barked proudly at us, showing off his first kill. I would never forget the pride in his voice and eyes when he showed us his prey.
Tillu loved milk. One day Amma had to go out and left Tillu at home. She forgot his milk and so Tillu had to stave that day.. But when Appa came back home.. Tillu immediately picked up his bowl and took it to Appa. Amma walked in almost at the same time. Appa asked Amma to give him milk and Amma did. He promptly lapped it up. A short while later, Appa checked to see if Tillu had had his fill .Seeing nothing on his plate, he felt sorry for the poor dog and gave him another glass of milk. Greedy as he was, Tillu lapped this up too and walk into the house like a pregnant lady with his tummy bulging. It was a very funny sight.
Another day, Amma had placed milk on the table for me. I, as I am, like my milk cold and left it on the table to cool down. Amma was busy working in the kitchen when she heard ..klup..klup..klup... She quitely came to the dining room to see what was going on.. To her surprise it was Tillu. He had climbed onto the chair, with his fore paws on the table and his hind paws on the chair, was standing there laping the milk from the tumbler.Amma threw a fit when she saw him like this.
Tillu was a very very naughty dog. He would chew on chappels and jump up and tear bedsheets drying on the clothes line. He would run away with my books and towels. It was very difficult to catch him. I'd keep chasing him around the house but never could catch him.. The only thing that worked was a treat. When we offered him his favorite "Porai" he'd condesend to give back our things. He would get jealous when Amma petted us. He would poke his cold, wet nose on us , nudge our hand and place it on his head and ask us to pet him or he’d just rub himself on us like a cat. He used to hate crows, particularly Peggy, a crow that used to frequent our home. He’d chase her and bark at her as if some intruder had entered his empire.
Tillu loved food and would do anything for it. His favorite hunting ground was Tirumathi Aunty's house. Ask him "Tillu maadikku polama?" and he would immediately dash to the door. If we don’t take him, he would whine.. and plead with us to take him.. you should see the look on his face... (a pavam sorta look). It was a different chemistry between them, him and Aunty. He liked her very much and she like him too...
Tillu, the charmer.. He could make anybody fall in love with him. My uncle loved him so much that he'd bring a bone for Tillu from America when he visited us. All my relatives, whether or not they enquire about us would definitely enquire about Tillu. My Thatha, a dog -hater until Tillu, loved him too.
Tillu, the brave. He had a stentorian voice and would scare away people. Although he was very brave he hated crackers. He used to dread them. Any blast and he’d immediately start shivering and shaking like a leaf. During one Diwali, Amma was in the Kitchen, wondering where Tillu was as she could not find him all morning.. Then to her surprise she found Tillu inside the kitchen!!!( Kitchen was prohibited area for him) curled up in the farthest corner, shivering like a leaf. When Amma saw him, he ran to her and curled up under her feet. Oh.. the brave Tillu
Tillu has taught me many things. He taught me how to love and care for others. He taught me how to be myself. The devotion that he showed was something that i guess you will find only in dogs..I used to be afraid of the dark and never would go to the terrace alone at night. But after Tillu came, he'd tag along and I slowly lost my fear of darkness. He was a moral support. When my chips were down he’d nudge me with his wet nose and cheer me up. He would know when you are angry, when your sad, when you are clam and when you are elated. I was a very angry kid, sulking and cursing, but Tillu really turned me around. He has made the person I am now....soft and gentle….
His last days were very heart rending…. He was a very hale and healthy dog. He would occasionally eat something and then vomit and get alright . We thought this time was another case like that .. But he only got worse.. On the morning of his death, he went from room to room, sat in all his favorite places…It was as if he knew he was going to die. We took him out for a walk and he could not walk back up.. so Appa left him in the basement and went to fetch a doctor. Amma just felt something was wrong and that she had head Tillu crying out. She sent my brother to see what was wrong. When Varun reached the basement he saw that Tillu had somehow mustered enough strength to just get to the lift. He stepped in and immediately collapsed. Varun brought him up and cried out for me I carried him in and placed his head on my knee. It was as though he wanted to see us all, once, for the last time, before he died. He stayed alive for as long as he could, until Appa came back, Appa entered, Tillu saw him and then…… he saw no more……
When he died it was very difficult for us to get used to a home without Tillu. Never will we have anybody waiting for us at the door or peeping out of the balcony. Never will we have somebody who would greet us heartily when we came back home.. Never will we ever hear his commanding voice or see him running like a horse. Never will we have somebody to play with, to talk to, to tease and to pet. Tillu was not just a dog to us; he was part of our family. It has taken me two years to talk about him like this... It was a very great loss to us when he died.... And I write this blog as a tribute to him
As Amma would say
"How I Love you Tillu Dear,
Though your eyes like frogs appear."