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Rancho and his quest of a home

About Sufia Khatoon

Sufia Khatoon is an Editor, Translator, Author, Poet, Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Social Activist and Philanthropist, Curator, PR and Event Manager.
Her Poems and short stories have been published in various National and International anthologies.
Her Bengali poem got featured in Tollywood Movie ANTOR SHOTTA starring Soumitro Chatterjee recently
She has Co-Founded Rhythm Divine Poets group initiating poetic movements globally.
She has received recently Amio Santa Award 2017 for her social efforts.
She is an Art Curator, Artist and Illustrator having exhibited her works in more than 20 group shows in reputed art galleries and widely appreciated for her solo show on Peace and Voices. She has illustrated International Poetry books of repute.
She is the owner of Sufi's Touch, a lifestyle designing brand that focuses on artistic products and recycling art.

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Children are sensitive to their surroundings, now and then discovering the greater philosophies of life in the smallest things that they do. I didn’t have a brigade of friends, even though I was lively and friendly in nature; somehow everyone found something missing in me to be accepted in the hierarchy of friendship.  A major part of my school hours I would spend in speculating the possibilities of not having a best friend. I didn’t understand social manners, I didn’t have any major talent to boast of and I was shy and outspoken at the same time. I was confused, inquisitive and philosophical whenever I slipped on the stairs, in the washroom, in the corridor and on the grounds. I knew very well what the term “Mad” meant in real life. I was famous for whatever I was and I am now, a big bundle of mismatched pair of dreamy passions – thus the title of mad Sufi.

 

Part 1

My best friends then were my pets which my grandmother and mother adored and kept in our garden.  We had a life size tank of 200 fishes which I always cleaned and took care of. I disowned our noisy farm of more than 30 chickens. So my nani took care of them, the 50 cute and fuzzy chicks I fed and washed from time to time, mummy took care of our garden which is more than 30 years old having grown in them tomatoes, onions, bitter guard, beans, papaya, mangoes, pineapple, guava, tulsi, sage, white apples, blue berries and everything that Kolkata’s sun would let us grow. The garden is my friend in this over polluted and populated city life, giving me solace from time to time. Not to miss my father on my younger 3 year old sister’s constant threats of not letting him enter our house if he didn’t buy birds for her, the next morning bought 100 cages full of parakeets, Mainas, the love birds, parrots, bulbul, and all other birds who I always felt were free and full of life. I would feed the baby parrots – yellow, green, red like the rainbow colours and all our days would be spent in taking care of our pets. Once I remember Papa rescuing a mercat from a vendor when he was trying to kill it. Afraid of getting caught, he had then kept it with us for a week and when his wounds had healed, he handed it over to the animal hospital. A snake also had got into our garden, yellowish black. That day my parents were out for some work and my teacher had bravely killed the snake suspecting it to have attacked us or rather out of her fear upon understanding that creatures do break into our garden. It was sad to see it die and I wished I could have stopped her from killing it.

I even raised single handedly two 6 months old rabbits and saw their family increasing to more than 20 rabbits. The small rat-like young born would soon cover up in white fluffy furs and I would photograph them with love whenever they played with each other, apart from feeding and sleeping for 10 weeks at least. Then they would again act wild as they are supposed to and scratched me If I tried washing them up.

I was ecstatic when a pair of orange fin fishes had birthed 100 fishlings and we were able to save at least 80 of them in the middle of the night when we saw a couple of them being eaten by the other fishes. They were so small that one couldn’t see them in water clearly until in the palm of my hands I picked few and found nature full with mysteries. We also had 6 pairs of ducks which dad got from Bariapur on a office tour and we build a big pond on our terrace to keep them. Sadly they started reducing weight and we knew they would die soon. So mom made a gala feast of them for dad’s friends. I didn’t eat that whole day hoping their souls to rest in peace in tummies.

Whenever a chick died drowning in our water tank, or a bird in the cage was unable to sustain its longing for freedom, I would question myself about life and death. After a point of time mom had asked papa not to bring in these animals, especially birds, for they were meant to be free. We had opened all the cage doors and saw freedom that day.

Why do we have the desire to own pets? Why do we want to keep a part of nature in bondage? Why do some animals leave you with a memory that helps you understand the difference between the wild and the tame? Why do you in the end, want to fight for their survival and learn a life changing lesson?

 

Part 2

My life changing lesson wasn’t an easy one. When I was 8 years old or maybe 10, we had got three big rabbits from CID road mela for me, my sis and my brother. We loved to go to mela’s and circuses and play outside until the word ‘television’ had arrived in a child’s imagination. After failing a number of times before in saving young rabbits, we had decided to have big healthy rabbits as pets. We named them Mussu, Muskan and Rancho. Each of them was different in temperament than the other. Mussu was soft in nature, always going around in the house and licking our fingers whenever we were back from school. Muskan was lively, always running with us, eating from our plates and nibbling on our shoes. Rancho was like the villains of Bollywood, always biting, scratching things and fighting with the other two for territorial dominance. Rancho was almost shunned from our play dates where we would open our restaurant and feed them dishes made by us. But I took care of him.

During that time, papa was constructing a 5 floor building as our area had started developing the taste of the new age. Everything was changing fast, from clothes to beliefs. Mom had got a big wooden shed built in the back lane of the house for our rabbits to be kept safely away from the cats. I hated cats for their killing of innocent creatures but that was their natural survival instinct. One night a gang of cats broke into the cage and took Mussu. While going to the washroom in the garden I saw one of the cats grabbing him by his head and taking him. He had bidden a farewell look and I couldn’t save him from the cat’s clutches. I didn’t sleep the entire night and mom shifted the cage inside our house. Muskan was very attached to Mussu. She died a week later because of hunger strike and Rancho owned our entire house after that incident.

We had big piles of sand dunes in which we would play when the construction of our ground floor had almost finished. We would often see Rancho digging in the sand to make a safe burrow for his home. Maybe he didn’t find our home as comfortable as his home of soil and dirt. We would let him dig his heart out while at night he would come back inside the house and sleep under the sofa. One day he went missing too. I swore never to have pets again, losing them to cats or death was heart breaking.

15 days had passed and one afternoon the worker, while taking the last bowl of sand to be shipped on the second floor, discovered Racho deep in the sand, still breathing. He had lighted a fire and kept Racho beside it to warm up. I prayed with all my heart for him to live. He couldn’t see from one eye and couldn’t breathe too. He was alive for 15 days under one ton sand without water and food.

Did he fight death to tell me about the blurring line between humans and animals, between love and bondage, between a home and a cage of life?

He died two days later. We buried him near a lake later that day.

Rancho’s desire for a home had gotten him killed. My desire to hold an animal against his will and domesticate him had left me with a void. Animals belong to the wild, to be left free in nature.

I never had any pets again. Rancho had finally found home in his freedom, in his death and in teaching me that nature cannot be tamed.

Children are sensitive to their surroundings, now and then discovering the greater philosophies of life in the smallest things that they do. I didn’t have a brigade of friends, even though I was lively and friendly in nature; somehow everyone found something missing in me to be accepted in the hierarchy of friendship.  A major part of my school hours I would spend in speculating the possibilities of not having a best friend. I didn’t understand social manners, I didn’t have any major talent to boast of and I was shy and outspoken at the same time. I was confused, inquisitive and philosophical whenever I slipped on the stairs, in the washroom, in the corridor and on the grounds. I knew very well what the term “Mad” meant in real life. I was famous for whatever I was and I am now, a big bundle of mismatched pair of dreamy passions – thus the title of mad Sufi.

My best friends then were my pets which my grandmother and mother adored and kept in our garden.  We had a life size tank of 200 fishes which I always cleaned and took care of. I disowned our noisy farm of more than 30 chickens. So my nani took care of them, the 50 cute and fuzzy chicks I fed and washed from time to time, mummy took care of our garden which is more than 30 years old having grown in them tomatoes, onions, bitter guard, beans, papaya, mangoes, pineapple, guava, tulsi, sage, white apples, blue berries and everything that Kolkata’s sun would let us grow. The garden is my friend in this over polluted and populated city life, giving me solace from time to time. Not to miss my father on my younger 3 year old sister’s constant threats of not letting him enter our house if he didn’t buy birds for her, the next morning bought 100 cages full of parakeets, Mainas, the love birds, parrots, bulbul, and all other birds who I always felt were free and full of life. I would feed the baby parrots – yellow, green, red like the rainbow colours and all our days would be spent in taking care of our pets. Once I remember Papa rescuing a mercat from a vendor when he was trying to kill it. Afraid of getting caught, he had then kept it with us for a week and when his wounds had healed, he handed it over to the animal hospital. A snake also had got into our garden, yellowish black. That day my parents were out for some work and my teacher had bravely killed the snake suspecting it to have attacked us or rather out of her fear upon understanding that creatures do break into our garden. It was sad to see it die and I wished I could have stopped her from killing it.

 I even raised single handedly two 6 months old rabbits and saw their family increasing to more than 20 rabbits. The small rat-like young born would soon cover up in white fluffy furs and I would photograph them with love whenever they played with each other, apart from feeding and sleeping for 10 weeks at least. Then they would again act wild as they are supposed to and scratched me If I tried washing them up.

I was ecstatic when a pair of orange fin fishes had birthed 100 fishlings and we were able to save at least 80 of them in the middle of the night when we saw a couple of them being eaten by the other fishes. They were so small that one couldn’t see them in water clearly until in the palm of my hands I picked few and found nature full with mysteries. We also had 6 pairs of ducks which dad got from Bariapur on a office tour and we build a big pond on our terrace to keep them. Sadly they started reducing weight and we knew they would die soon. So mom made a gala feast of them for dad’s friends. I didn’t eat that whole day hoping their souls to rest in peace in tummies.

Whenever a chick died drowning in our water tank, or a bird in the cage was unable to sustain its longing for freedom, I would question myself about life and death. After a point of time mom had asked papa not to bring in these animals, especially birds, for they were meant to be free. We had opened all the cage doors and saw freedom that day.

Why do we have the desire to own pets? Why do we want to keep a part of nature in bondage? Why do some animals leave you with a memory that helps you understand the difference between the wild and the tame? Why do you in the end, want to fight for their survival and learn a life changing lesson?

To Be Continued in Part 2…

My life changing lesson wasn’t an easy one. When I was 8 years old or maybe 10, we had got three big rabbits from CID road mela for me, my sis and my brother. We loved to go to mela’s and circuses and play outside until the word ‘television’ had arrived in a child’s imagination. After failing a number of times before in saving young rabbits, we had decided to have big healthy rabbits as pets. We named them Mussu, Muskan and Rancho. Each of them was different in temperament than the other. Mussu was soft in nature, always going around in the house and licking our fingers whenever we were back from school. Muskan was lively, always running with us, eating from our plates and nibbling on our shoes. Rancho was like the villains of Bollywood, always biting, scratching things and fighting with the other two for territorial dominance. Rancho was almost shunned from our play dates where we would open our restaurant and feed them dishes made by us. But I took care of him.

During that time, papa was constructing a 5 floor building as our area had started developing the taste of the new age. Everything was changing fast, from clothes to beliefs. Mom had got a big wooden shed built in the back lane of the house for our rabbits to be kept safely away from the cats. I hated cats for their killing of innocent creatures but that was their natural survival instinct. One night a gang of cats broke into the cage and took Mussu. While going to the washroom in the garden I saw one of the cats grabbing him by his head and taking him. He had bidden a farewell look and I couldn’t save him from the cat’s clutches. I didn’t sleep the entire night and mom shifted the cage inside our house. Muskan was very attached to Mussu. She died a week later because of hunger strike and Rancho owned our entire house after that incident.

We had big piles of sand dunes in which we would play when the construction of our ground floor had almost finished. We would often see Rancho digging in the sand to make a safe burrow for his home. Maybe he didn’t find our home as comfortable as his home of soil and dirt. We would let him dig his heart out while at night he would come back inside the house and sleep under the sofa. One day he went missing too. I swore never to have pets again, losing them to cats or death was heart breaking.

15 days had passed and one afternoon the worker, while taking the last bowl of sand to be shipped on the second floor, discovered Racho deep in the sand, still breathing. He had lighted a fire and kept Racho beside it to warm up. I prayed with all my heart for him to live. He couldn’t see from one eye and couldn’t breathe too. He was alive for 15 days under one ton sand without water and food.

Did he fight death to tell me about the blurring line between humans and animals, between love and bondage, between a home and a cage of life?

He died two days later. We buried him near a lake later that day.

Rancho’s desire for a home had gotten him killed. My desire to hold an animal against his will and domesticate him had left me with a void. Animals belong to the wild, to be left free in nature.

I never had any pets again. Rancho had finally found home in his freedom, in his death and in teaching me that nature cannot be tamed.

The End

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