I have known him for several years now. He is an old friend of my brother's and that is how we got introduced, when I returned to live with my family, after completing my post-graduate degree. We seemed to hit it off rather well from the first meeting onwards and have been good friends ever since.
My mother has named him Zakhmi (the injured one) and the name has stuck, because he tends to get into fights every now and then and, in which, often, he is out-numbered many to one. The injuries sustained are serious at times and he has almost moved on to the 'happy hunting grounds' on more than one occasion. It took a really long time for a particularly deep wound on his neck, which was the result of a rather nasty confrontation, I suppose, to heal. My brother and I washed it with anti-septic solution every day and a kind gentleman down the street fed him anti-biotics.
Coming from a clan of warrriors, myself, I can perfectly understand his compulsion to stand up for what he believes is right, even though the prospect of losing a dear friend is certainly not a good one.
By the grace of the Almighty, he is doing fine till now and bears the scars of battle with pride.
When Zakhmi was younger, my brother had bestowed upon him the title of 'the playful one', for whenever he would spot my brother or I, he would come running and repeatedly raise one of his front-paws, in a gesture that sought to communicate the fact that he wanted to play with us.
Though born on the street and still living there, he is smarter than most dogs I have known. He seems to understand perfectly whatever my mother says to him in chaste Punjabi and acts accordingly. On the other hand, if he has something to say to any of us, he is, generally, able to convey that through his actions, without much difficulty.
The colour of his coat is the same as that of a lion and he has a very regal bearing. He walks or trots in a fashion, which seems to suggest that he was either a member of a royal family or a soldier of high rank, in a previous birth. Even in this life, I think he would have made an excellent police or military dog, had he been given the chance, and marched smartly in parades, with his unit or battalion .
He does not pick up food thrown in front of him and eats only when fed by hand. His self-respect, obviously, is of paramount importance to him.
Being the large-hearted 'gentleman' (or should I say 'gentledog'?) that he is, he cares a lot for his friends. He amply demonstrated this quality of his, when my beloved Tinkoo died and he was the first to offer me a shoulder to cry upon.
More recently, I developed a huge boil on my left knee that became septic, causing it to fill up with a lot of pus. The resultant pain made it difficult for me to stand up or even sit straight for an extended period of time. The three or four steps required to be taken to go to the toilet adjacent to my room seemed to be one of the longest journeys I have ever embarked upon. So, I was unable to venture outside for several days and this must have caused Zakmi to become worried, for he decided to visit me to ask after my health.
One evening, he came to our front door and started scratching it with his nails. When my mother opened the door, he simply rushed past her and came straight to my bed-side. After getting his ears scratched and head patted for a while, he went away, as quickly as he had come. This sequence continued to be repeated daily, over the next few days, until I had recovered fully.
His visits were the highlights of my day and I looked forward to seeing him.
I feel blessed to have him as a friend!