Gayal

Gayal. In Apatani, we call them “Subu”. And to the Apatani people, it means wealth. It is considered as wealth because it plays important role in economical, social and cultural life of Apatani community of North-East India.

My father used to own a fair numbers when he was still alive, when he was still strong.

Long before he was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis; long before he endured grueling treatment of tuberculosis medicines – he actually had a lung cancer and died from lung cancer – the numbers of gayal dwindled terribly. I was away at boarding school in Delhi. And he couldn’t tend to them like he did it before. Eventually we lost all our bovines to Swpya, or so they say. I don’t know what Swpya really look like. I’ve never seen one in my life – alive or dead. Some call it a wolf. I guess it might be. Anyway, at least they served their purpose of being in the food chain. And served it well.

To make a long story short, Gayals are very fond of salt. The one with tongue out that we’re seeing in a picture was stalking me. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry any salt in my backpack. So I shove my empty hand out at her – hoping without hope to lick it – she licked anyway. The touch of her warm tongue on my palm was healing and divine experience. It reminds me of old times – herding the gayals in the forest with my father.

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Crossposted [at] rotochobinphotography.wordpress.com

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A lemon tree and her visitors

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” ― Emily Dickinson

IMG_3019 (The lemon tree)
The Lemon Tree

Two meters away from my bedroom window, close to our granary, we have a lemon tree. It used to bear massive and delicious lemons. Once I asked my mother how it got there. She told me that my sisters may have planted it while I was in boarding school.

Over the years, we’ve harvested its produce countless times. Sometimes it would give us a plentiful harvest; at other times good. My mother would take it to the market to sell whenever reap would be plenteous. But, many a time, we would just give it away to our friends and relatives to share the grace. Then there were our neighborhood that would slyly sneak in our property, but its robust spikes had often thwarted their ambitions.

As time goes on; as year turned into years. Everything begins to fade away. Our lemon tree is also showing us the sign that she has grown old. I’ve tried to prune its withered branches, but it didn’t help her much. Still it bears fruit, but the size has reduced to a tiny ball. Of late, despite her age, she began to attract a lot of new visitors. She‘s getting on quite well with feral birds, besides the fact that it has been a playground for numerous house sparrows ever since she attained three meters in height.

Some months ago, I saw a beautiful white bird with a long tail perched on its branch. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. A fine looking bird on our lemon tree! In the heart of Hapoli town! Since I’d never seen this beautiful bird in my entire life, I thought it must be new specie. So I used to address him/her as an “Angel bird” until someone told me its name – Asian Paradise flycatcher. For two days, Angel bird would come, groom and hop about for hours while hiding among the branches. Though it has never visited our lemon tree again, but its majestic look was permanently etched on my mind, will remain there till the last breath.

That wasn’t the beginning of the end for visitors. Among others, the Tits were also enrolled in the list.

In another incident; it was rather very early morning when I was woken up by birds chirping. As I opened the window a crack, I saw two Red-vented Bulbuls alighting on a branch. Two were already there – settled on nearby branch. House Sparrows consider our lemon tree as their own, their recreational area. So they were trying to scare away the new visitors. Despite their boisterous chirpings, they were unable to budge the Bulbuls.

After the flight of the Bulbuls, the lemon tree has become the dominion of Sparrows again. Not for long, though. The Bulbuls have kept returning to our lemon tree since last few days.

Needless to say, this chapter will pass. Nothing stays same forever. Someday we all are going to make our exit – at destined time. Our lemon tree. The sparrows. The Bulbuls. Money. Friends. Happiness. Grief. You. And me. However, I’m enjoying every bit of it while it last. I’ll cherish our lemon tree while I still can and I’ll miss her when she’ll be not around.  By the way, who can tell whose numbers will be up first?

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Asian-Paradise flycatcher
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Red-vented bulbul