Rabin Prasad Kalita
The bleat of a goat that can easily be heard is the distance of BhabitDa’s home from our drawing room. He is a socially butterfly person who is so simple and sober in nature. His personality is such, anyone can be a follower of him within a finger snap, and even he is too friendly to strangers. Anything happens in the locality, he will be right over there for help no sooner he gets to know. He is always a fore runner on societal obligations leaving every bit of his personal work. He is a store house of enormous qualities. I being a freelance writer, I love to stick with the chair at my reading room. Hence I can’t involve myself much in social activities. I too enjoy being with the people only when I can spare my time. But there is no such pre-condition implies on Bhabitda.
Bhabitda’s sources of earnings were half a dozen rented houses just in front of the Air Force living out area and more than a dozen domesticated goats. Due to the paucity of hundred percent service quarters, married Air force personals are forced to stay outside on rent with their families. So Bhabitda’s rented houses are an easy find for them to stay as tenants till the time they were allotted with service accommodations.
Very often, street meat traders visit his home for buying matured buck (he-goat) or castrated goat. She-goats were not for sell but kept for reproduction to expand his business. Thus he earned some extra money in addition to support with sufficient goat milk for his family which is rare for many other people now. Bhabitda recognised each one of the goats with different names as per their colour, size and gender. Guttu was the latest addition to the flock. One day, on the way to my office, an incident took place with “Guttu” a small bustling black buck. Guttu came running across the road perkily and banged on the wheel of my vehicle. I got down from the car at once and saw Guttu was lying and bleating faintly due to the pain. But his frolic run cost him heavily which left his front right leg broken. It was really upsetting. I lifted him right away and ran to Bhabitda’s home for first aid. Looking at my fatigue face, Bhabitda gently placed his hand over my shoulder and said not to worry much as if nothing had happened. He took Guttu from me and started nursing. Simultaneously he said me to proceed for the office so that I don’t get late and also assured me that, Guttu would be alright very soon. The incident pained me much so I decided to stay back, but his incessant assertion forced me to drive towards my office. This poignant situation made me to think about the playful Guttu and the happening.
There after I had a habit of taking stalk of the physical condition of Guttu. I noticed him becoming active and healthy steadily under Bhabitda’s special care. I discovered that Guttu liked to chew crispy Britannia biscuit, so I used to go with a small pack of biscuit whenever I visited and I enjoyed seeing him chewing on my hands. That gave me an immense pleasure and drew my empathy towards him. Moreover, owing to this incident, I could come more closure to know this wonderful human being Bhabitda. Slowly Guttu recovered fully, grew up strong and became bigger in size but limped a little. He walked on road without much hustle-bustle as before. He attentively heeded me and made a habit of coming in front of our main gate daily morning at a fixed time before I leave for office. Standing outside the gate, he bleated once or twice to attract my attention as if he came to wish my morning. He didn’t go away until and unless I fed his favourite Britannia biscuit. Of course I also loved to see and care him once. This became a part of my usual routine to follow on. Thus he silently occupied a little space in my heart.
One fine evening my wife and I went to a friend’s home to pay the respect of his dinner invitation. The occasion was to express his happiness for achieving excellent result by his son in twelfth standard examination. Accordingly we too invited them formally at our home the next day evening for dinner being it a holiday. We the Indian have a custom of paying highest standard of hospitality to our guest. “Atithi Deva Bhava” is the signature believes in our culture. Means we treat our guest or visitor as the God. The host takes care of them with utmost enthusiasm and pleasure. We believe the God comes to one’s home disguising himself as guest to judge the host; hence we don’t leave any lacuna while hosting them.
So, in the afternoon, my wife chalked out the items to be prepared for the dinner and accordingly gave me a long list of kitchen items to be procured from the market. Though mutton was on the top of the list as per the priority of purchase but I preferred to obtain all other ingredients first. At last I went to the meat shop section and looked for a fresh and healthy stuff. Mr. Shahnoor’s mutton shop was one amongst them who always maintained quality and hygiene I believed being almost a regular customer of him. Always there is a hue and cry among fish and meat vendors for drawing the attention of the vendee demanding one’s item is superior to others. Mr. Shahnoor too shouted as usual like “sir, please come and have from here, it’s fresh and just undressed before half an hour”. Without putting an interval he was impetuously speaking further to convince me. He said, I shouldn’t be worried about the genuineness of the meat, because the buck was bought this afternoon from my neighbour Bhabitda”. The moment I heard about it, suddenly my mind got mistuned from its natural vibe. So I curiously wanted to know about the stuff I sought to have. Therefore, I raised a query to Shahnoor “was the buck black in colour?” he said ‘yes’. As my curiosity got condensed, further I asked him “did he notice slight deformity on its front right leg?” he promptly said may be yes because he was slightly limping. Then Sahnoor guessed that he could persuade me for a deal as I knew everything about the buck. Moreover, it was known to him that I always crave to buy leg portion only of a buck, hence he asked me how much I wanted before I gave my consent.
I lost my all words to react. Nothing was concealed for me to understand. Suddenly the chemical process of my body got misbalanced thinking there is something wrong at the bottom. Oh no! I was shocked sealing my lips with hands and cried out abruptly. I couldn’t stand and stare at the lifeless undressed body of Guttu anymore as if my heart got torn apart. I didn’t know how much I loved Guttu whom I fed on my own hands that morning and at the evening, his headless corpse made to hang upside down. Within the early night, his meat might be ready with different dishes on the serving table as luscious treats in many homes. Oh God! It was one of the most dismal evenings of my life. May be this is the ultimate and untimely destine of all these animals. Cultivated, nurtured and grown up to a certain age and later on used as food intake by all of us. This is the unpleasant truth of their lives.
Straight way I came back home and handed over the bag with the ticked list of items to my spouse. Seeing the missing tick mark on the top of the list, she enquired what happened to the number one item, whether I forgot to tick or really missed out the item to bring etc. I said, “Yes darling, I skipped out deliberately because I couldn’t buy the flesh of Guttu” and also narrated the whole sad story. She stood like a stoned dove for a while and took a long shy of grief.
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