JIMMI THE DOG AND MY SHOOTING STAR
It happened way back in 1987, when I was a young vet, zooming to each house on my Yezdi bike, to treat the animals of the homes. Though I was a well-known doctor among vets and general public, a foreign assignment was still my dream!
One fateful day, Joymon of Cheriyanadu, a pet rearer, came running to meet me. “Doctor, my Alsatian (Jimmi) dog is not closing the mouth. He is salivating in large amounts. Please come and do something at once”. The specialty of this Alsatian dog was that every day in the morning, Jimmi would fetch the newspaper in his mouth and give it to Joymon, his master! On enquiry, and to my concern, I found out that Alsatian’s anti-rabies shot was overdue.
Those days, live anti-rabies vaccine had just come in to the market. Equipped with vaccine, syringe (the plastic reusable one), and other little first-aid items, I went to Joymon’s house. Jimmi, the Alsatian, was lying own. “Rabies?, I doubt!”, I thought as I approached the Alsatian. Mustering all courage I had, I opened the dog’s mouth. And there, to everyone’s relief, was a piece of metal jammed in between the teeth! After a bit of struggle, the metal piece was pried out and, hey presto!, Jimmi closed its mouth, with great relief!! After all, it would be wiser to give an anti-rabies Shot, I decided. So, Joymon held Jimmi’s legs while I jabbed in the loaded syringe. The Alsatian jumped! Though the vaccine was administered, my finger got pricked by the needle!! I shuddered! It was a live vaccine! Being an Indian product, would the virus be actually attenuated?! Being made for dogs and other animals, would it have any untoward action in the case of man?! All sorts of doubts and fears clustered within my mind. Without waiting further, I mounted my bike and zoomed off home….leaving behind the syringe, in my panic.
Later I consoled myself that the potency of the vaccine may be nil. After all, its an Indian product!! Dutifully Joymon took the syringe and wrapped it in an Indian Express newspaper. Halfway through my journey home, I remembered the syringe. I returned straight back to Joymon’s home. There, to my dismay, I found Jimmi waiting for me with the Newspaper packet in its mouth!! That sealed my fate and changed my life!! It was this newspaper that contained the advertisement calling for veterinary experts for Muscat Ministry!! I applied and got selection as expert in Muscat ministry. After many visits, I and Jimmi, the Alsatian, became close friends and when I visited him last, before going abroad, he said “Tata” to me by waggling his tail!!
On my first annual leave when I reached home from Muscat, I dashed to see JIMMI with a gift of American Biscuits. To my shock, Jimmi’s cage was empty! Soon Joymon came with a sad look. He gave me an English news paper. In it, there was a photo of Jimmi fighting a Cobra snake. “Yes, he protected us from the Cobra, but he died after a brave fight”, Joymon completed his words with tears in eyes. As if in a dream, I walked back. Still my inner self had the picture of Jimmy waggling his tail with a newspaper in mouth!!!
Evergreen memories of Kerala Veterinary College have been quite active in my mind, enriching me, wherever I have been! This great Alma Mater, greets me with affection. The knowledge imbibed from “The Great Masters of the College”, as well as campus life, lighted our candles. It is very gratifying to note that Veterinary College Alumni in different parts of the world meet quite often to maintain their ties with one another and to express their love and loyalty to the institution. Looking back, I had put all uniforms a vet can wear in his professional career. Junior instructor in Veterinary College, Vet sales officer in Pfizer Ltd., Asst. Director in AH Dept, Kerala and served as veterinary officer in Ministry of two foreign countries; Peoples Republic of Mozambique (East Africa) and Sultanate of Oman.
I remember with great appreciation, the most precious years of my life in Veterinary College. College life was relaxing and without thorns. Study classes were mingled with lighter moments of discussions and practical. Stage events of drama, music and literary contests were conducted often. As editor of the College Magazine, along with late Dr. Bharathan Nampoothiripad, we could bring out a good Magazine in 1969. Good relationship was maintained between teachers and students. There were no political unions in the college.
How many would remember the slogans they heard 40 years ago, when the first strike to protest against unemployment, started by vet college students. By 1969, the unemployment became so severe that vet graduates had to flee seeking jobs to Bhutan, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman and Northern states. As final year students we had to take some actions. It was I who called all students to gather at the foot of flag hoisting pole in front of the college, boycotting the classes. Later we made Satyagraha in front of Principal’s room and when a Kannada student called out slogan in Kannada we repeated it: “Karil hathu Nadathare, Nalkarasthu Paduthare, BVSc Yuvagenera…..”
In addition to satisfying academic requirements, the college functioned also as a training centre for sports, athletics, and games. At that time, in Kerala, there was only Kerala University. And in all intercollegiate championships, vet college bagged trophies in athletics and basketball. The veteran basketball player M. M. Chacko was our superman and superstar. After winning trophy every year, we danced around Swaraj Round Trichur, with Panchavadyam, Chenda Melam and Band Set.
Glimpses of Hostel Life
My memories goes back to 1964 when I joined vet college as 1st year student. As newcomers we had to undergo ragging to tame us to vet medical career. We accepted it. And when we became seniors we waited to rag next year’s newcomers. RIKSHAW Man: To our surprise, the first newcomer was seen coming to college all the way from Trichur town riding on a rikshaw pulled by a lean man. As soon as he landed without delay we lifted his trunkbox and bed to his head asking him to circle the hostel 10 times, shouting “This is my last Riksha ride”. Later ,he was called Rikshavalha.
I and V. D. Thomas (now in USA) were crazy Space Travel Fans, we were in ecstasies over the moon trip of Neil Armstrong. We decided to mark the landing of Man on the moon by Crackers. At 2pm in the night on 21 July 1969, when everybody was sleeping, we lighted 100 crackers in the corridor of the hostel. The blast and bombardment followed rocked the corridor and the complete hostel woke up and was after us!
The hostel life in another way boosted our literary abilities. With A. K. Bose as Editor, we started to publish a handwritten hostel monthly with name “KODALI”. The talented artist V. D. Thomas, done beautiful illustrations in KODALI. We included LUNGI news such as “Hidden Love’, “who stole banana from farm?’, “Peep in to Ladies Hostel” etc. With good hand writing, D.Noble (Tvm) helped the endeavour a success.
It was Jayanandan who killed a Bandicoot Rat (peruchazhi ) which happened to get trapped in his room. He skinned it and cooked the meat. At that time, roasted pork was a super delicacy of the hostel mess. Expert cook Sankunny Nair often prepared roasted pork to super taste of hostelmen. Smell of cooked “Pork”, spread in the hostel rooms. A battalion lead by Menon pushed into Jayannans room and hastly made a feast. Only when “CHENDAYADI” followed, they knew it was peruchazhi! Panic and vomiting followed!
The Girija Story
Going to second show at Trichur Girija theatre and return by walking or catching Peechi bound lorry was a common practice among the so called “Loiters” of the hostel. Once we caught up a Peechi bound lorry after seeing “Guns of Navrone”, but they dropped us at Pattikkad at 1pm in the night. We had to tread on all the way to Mannuthy just to be caught by the Asst Warden!
April fool Beauty
It was I, who called to a Trichur college Ladies Hostel on an April fool’s Day. I asked for the most beautiful girl in the hostel to talk with! A sweet voice from the other end replied,” I am the most beautiful girl here” (She was Asst warden). Dialogues passed on for hours! Then daily! Love in action! Wearing red shirt, Black pants and black umbrella in hand, I went to Trichur town and met the beauty in white sari and red scarf! Now all those are PAST STORIES !
Dr JOHN KURUVILLA