The epitaph doesn’t mention his breed.
Or his colour.
Or even attribute him with any valour .
Only the canine’s name shines in its full glory, celebrating his challenge to a larger predator –
“Jemmie, killed by a panther on 24th November, 1903.”
Did he fight well ? Did he last for some minutes ? How did his action allow the Memsahib to get away unhurt ? Was it seen as a strange act of defiance by the family ? There are no accounts to confirm or deny anything.
Given that the English could be miserly in their praise of the natives, whereas the latter were given to hyperboles to describe even the most routine deeds, a grave in honour of the slain dog certainly expresses a lot more than what a frugal epitaph can take away.
As per hearsay , Jammie was taking an evening stroll alongside his Memsahib in the Dak Bungalow park in Jhalawar , when a panther attacked the lady. Jemmie, the chivalrous gallant, hurled himself onto the panther, thereby allowing the Englishwoman to run to safety and call for help . There could not have been any chance of an upset really – it was a doomed battle from the very start.
Jemmie lost his life, but won himself a grave. To be dubbed as valorous in a nation enslaved , and so honoured by White men ! How long is a canine life anyway ? 12-14 years at its best ? Not a bad bargain at all, if you consider that most don’t even recall the names of their great-grandfathers ( I had checked my family names recently) , but Jemmie stands tall, as a local legend.
Once Indians took over in 1947, a kind of strange apathy towards all things past overtook us. We allowed our institutions and monuments to rot, and our history to be manipulated by the vicious Left. Surely this grave could have been developed into some sort of a tourist spot, or a place to study suburb-wild interface.
I had taken a small rest-cum-break at an acquaintance’s place in Jhalawar (80 km from Kota) on my way to our native village, Harnavada (152 km from Kota). Our conversation veered towards a white dog my acquaintance used to have, but who is now regretfully dead. Akashvani (Oracle) Colony, where he lives, is a desolate place with sylvan surroundings. It is located on the Bhavani Mandi road, outside the crowded part of the town. I casually enquired if wild animals strayed into those parts. Sloth bears sometimes and jackals come often, he informed me. I sniggered. “And a panther arrived once .” He added as an afterthought. I let that pass, it was that improbable.
He got up and asked me to follow him. Dak Bungalow is adjacent to Akashvani Colony. We waded through a dense overgrowth of thorns and bushes . The local caretaker guided us to the grave . He informed us that till the 80s, the family of the Sahib used to send some money from England every year. But the local administration displayed total apathy and arrogance. Then they stopped, as they should have. As of now, the grave stands firm, surrounded by, almost hidden in , dense thorny bushes.
Everyone I met at the Dak Bungalow mentioned Madam Vasundhara Raje Scindia as a regular guest. Perhaps Madam can do something for Jemmie’s Grave. She, being a royal and a politician, can better appreciate the value of bravery and fealty.
#jemmie #jhalawar #RTDC #rajasthantourism