SHERRY KARVE – HAPPY MEMORIES – WALKING WITH SHERRY
On the morning of the 18th of December 2014, I went on my morning walk all alone – yes, after more than 8 years, I was going all alone on my morning walk – my walking partner Sherry was not there with me.
Sherry was not there with me on my walk because she had sadly passed away and gone to her heavenly abode just one day earlier on the 17th of December 2014.
I noticed that the familiar dogs I met on the way were looking at me in a confused sort of way.
Maybe they were wondering why I was walking alone – and where my usual walking companion Sherry was – for Sherry would always vigorously bark at them and try to chase them away (to “protect” me).
For more than 8 years, Sherry was my regular walking partner, in the morning, and in the evening, for every day of her life.
It is going to take some time for me to get over the irreplaceable loss and get used to walking without Sherry.
Long back, many years ago, I watched an old Black and White Movie called: ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC
The film, ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC, produced in 1943, stars the inimitable Humphrey Bogart, and is a story of the war at sea during the World War II.
The thrilling movie depicts the bravery and adventure of Naval Officers and Sailors on a merchant navy during World War 2.
A large convoy of ships is bound from Halifax in Canada to Murmansk in Russia carrying vital war material.
The convoy of merchant ships is pursued by German Submarines (a Wolf-Pack).
There is a scene on a dark and gloomy night, as the ships sail on treacherous seas with the dangerous enemy lurking below.
Humphrey Bogart, who is the Chief Officer of a Merchant Ship, and his Captain, stand in the bridge-wings reminiscing and discussing their time on an earlier ship which was sunk by enemy torpedoes.
The Captain keeps talking about the tough hazardous times they had when their convoys were attacked and keeps recalling various tragedies and misfortunes.
On the other hand the Chief Officer talks about all the fun, frolic, flirting, enjoyment he has had and describes his delightful amorous peccadilloes and romantic escapades in various ports.
The Captain berates the Chief Officer and asks him how he can be so frivolous and merry in a dangerous and grim wartime situation, to which the Chief Officer (Humphrey Bogart) replies:
I FORGET THE GRIEF AND JUST REMEMBER THE FUN
That is exactly what I am going to do as I hark back and reminisce about Sherry – I will try to remember the fun and tell you about my happy memories of those delightful moments with Sherry.
WALKING WITH SHERRY
Four years ago, towards the end of my Girinagar Days, just before I hung up my boots, I went to the DIAT MI Room (Medical Clinic) for my outgoing final clearance.
The Doctor, a Colonel from the Army Medical Corps (AMC), who was a good friend of mine, said to me: “I was just going through your records – you haven’t reported sick even once in all these 3 years you have been here.”
“Yes,” I said, “if I fall ill, then who will take Sherry for her walks?”
“I think it is the other way round – it is Sherry who has kept you fit,” he said.
It was true.
DIAT (earlier known as IAT) had a sprawling campus in the hilly forests of Girinagar overlooking the massive Khadakwasla lake below the Sinhagarh Fort.
Every morning I would take Sherry for a brisk walk up Girinagar hill to the water tank – a steep climb of around 1000 feet.
There, I would leave Sherry to play and frolic around, to chase squirrels and peacocks, while I did some light exercises to refresh my lungs with pure air – and then we would return back, and I would get ready for work, while Sherry would spend her time playing in our huge garden, basking in the sun and resting in the shade.
It was quite a challenging walk – not the distance, which was only 3 kilometers – but the steep climb, which got your systems going.
On this morning hill-walk, most of the time Sherry would be “off leash” so she could run up and down freely.
In the evening, precisely at 5, my Doctor Friend, the AMC Colonel, would arrive at my bungalow.
Sherry would be eagerly waiting for him – watching the road from our first floor terrace – and the moment she sighted her Doctor “Uncle” she would start vigorously wagging her tail – and then Sherry would fetch her leash and come to me holding her leash in her mouth – for me to put it around her neck and take her on our evening walk.
Yes, the Doctor was our regular evening walking partner – and all three of us – the doctor, Sherry and me would take an hour long 6 km walk around the hilly campus.
Sometimes, we would walk a few kilometers more upto sunset point and back, and Sherry would always be game for any amount of walking.
Sherry would ensure that I took her for regular walks every single day of those 3 years at Girinagar, where the two of us lived in a desolate bungalow.
I may have missed an occasional evening walk.
But I did not miss even a single morning walk, because every morning Sherry would wake me up early in the morning, sharp at 6, sit outside the bathroom till I got ready, and by 6:15 we were on our way up the Girinagar hill for our morning walk.
It was the same in Aundh Camp, where Sherry lived the first two years of her life – we had a bungalow with a spacious compound and a huge verdant forested “cantonment style” campus outside, ideal for long walks.
Sherry and I went for walks every morning and every evening.
Later, after I retired and shifted to Wakad, my long walks with Sherry continued – one in the morning and one in the evening – and though we lived in flat, here there was a lush green park on the banks of the Mula River and plenty of walking routes to be explored with Sherry.
As my Army Doctor Friend said, “Sherry has ensured that you are fit.”
Yes, I could not afford to fall ill since I had to take Sherry for her two walks every day.
Sherry would wake me early in the morning every single day for her walk – she scrupulously followed this routine for 8 long years.
Then, for the first time in her life, on the morning of 5th May 2014, Sherry did not wake me up in the morning.
(I can never forget that ill-fated day and date – it was a Monday, the 5th of May 2014)
It all happened without any warning.
On Sunday evening, Sherry and I went for our customary evening walk in Wakad Park, where she played quite normally.
On Monday morning, Sherry seemed quite lethargic – she did not wake me up early in the morning.
But I got ready and woke her up.
But then, when I took her out for her morning walk to the park, she seemed listless, tired and unenthusiastic, and indicated to me that she wanted to go home.
I was worried.
I brought her home.
She drank water and lay down.
She looked tired.
I thought it was because of the oppressive summer heat of Pune.
I bathed and came out.
Normally, Sherry would greet me in a vigorous manner, when I came out of the bathroom, since this meant another outing to buy milk from the store.
Instead, Sherry kept lying down and she looked at me in a gloomy sort of way.
The listless look in their eyes, the sad expression on her face, her gloomy body language, and just one wag of her tail for me instead of vigorous wagging – all this got me alarmed, and fearful.
We rushed her to the vet.
Sherry had fallen seriously ill.
From then on, it was a downward spiral.
The doctors gave her a few days, at most a month or two – but we put in our best efforts – and she seemed to getting better – though she was never her earlier energetic self.
Sherry lost her vision due to diabetes induced cataract.
But till the end she did not lose her zest and cheerfulness.
Despite her blindness, I started taking her on her customary two walks, in the morning and in the evening, twice a day, after her meals and insulin injections.
These walks were not as brisk and energetic as before – and since she could not see – I “talked” a lot to her during the walks - taking her on the same routes so that she could smell the familiar smells and be comfortable.
We continued this walking routine for more than 8 months till 14th December 2014 (we had our last walk together on the 14th of December, like earlier, a Sunday evening).
And then from 15th morning onwards, it was a downward spiral once again, but this time she did not survive, and went to her heavenly abode on the morning of 17th December 2014.
RIP Sherry Karve (09 April 2006 - 17 Dec 2014).
I promise I will continue my walks – and you will always be there “walking” with me – not on the leash – but in my mind’s eye.