My dear Cute Koyangi
How are you? I could not get time to write to you. I am not sorry for that.
You wanted me to write a real life incident. But I can’t recollect any interesting incident at the moment. Here is a story which will sound real. The place, the people, the incident are all imaginary, but the forest is real. Next time when you come to India and if I get a chance, I will take you there. You have been telling, you won’t eat meat any more. I will teach you later, why all carnivores should continue as Carnivores.
This carnivore business, reminds me of going to the forest with my forest officer friend in late 60s in one of my summer vacations from the University. The dense forest starts few kilo meters from our small town.
So we took his Jeep to the nearest village, and from there took cycles provided by the villagers , who were small time operators, permitted by my friend to steal one bullock cart load of small trees, once in a while. (For survival). So he was Robin Hood around the country side. How this fellow was rescued from a tree trunk, to which he was tied thoroughly by the timber Mafia, with most of the bones broken and most of his blood on the ground being devoured by various species of ants, (Top of the food chain then); is another story.
Coming back ... where was I.??
The previous day, the villagers, in their routine wood stealing bout, had thoroughly cleaned the forest inspection rest house, stuffed it with all provisions including half a dozen of live “Deshi Murgi"(you remember the meaning of this?) tied to a fire wood log inside the kitchen. We had 2 night 1 day’s program there.
Mohua, specially brewed for the sahib (means boss), was in a big earthen pot with its big mouth tied with a dirty clothe for Mohua to breath. (You know, dear Koyangi, Mohua is a type of Indian wine, fermented from a very tasty and tiny forest fruit. When you come to India, you can taste,)
Sorry I lost track …
But my friend had other ideas, to honor me; his elder brother was my class mate, so I am like Dada.
He had three fire arms, one issued by the Govt, one he had bought and the other was a rifle gifted to him by the guys who had tied him to the tree to die, and who had gifted him with Morha ( sitting gadget) made from tanned and stuffed elephant legs, with hairs intact and nails too.
He said, “You know Dada, originally the Morhas were covered with Leopard skin, I thought it was too much, so I made many chappals out of the leopard skin and covered the Morhas with rexin. I have kept one chappal for you, take it and wear it in hostel, don't go out in the city, with leopard skin chappal....”
(Koyangiya, Chappal is a type of footwear. I will get for you when I come to Korea next time, not of leopard skin of course. Mail me your foot print)
We reached the Forest rest house by 3 PM. A few villagers were already there to welcome us.
My friend said, “Dada, we are going to the water hole. What kind of deer meat will you prefer? We have 3-4 varieties here. I will try to take few young ones.”
“You saw that bearded guy at the kitchen; he is very good at Bar-B-Q, especially young bucks, whole. He was some great Chef in the house of a wealthy business man in Cuttack, kicked out for stealing jewelries. But now he is stealing wood for living”
“What else will he do in this place? He has no land. His father had borrowed money and the landlord has taken the land. If I don’t look after these people, who will? Even if these guys steal wood, they can’t steal a forest. Forests will remain forever. “
“How can you kill? You are in charge of the wild life protection cell?”
“Precisely, I am the only guy who has the license to kill, no one can. I can kill a deer in self defense too.”
“What do you mean by self defense?” I asked
“Self defense is more relevant, because if I don't carry fresh deer meat and if my boss's wife can’t make deer meat on the 2nd marriage anniversary of her visiting 3rd daughter, she won’t be able to show her face in the society, net result, I lose my job. You know dada, this boss of mine, not only a bastard, he is henpecked too. “
Anyway, the deer Bar B Q was amazing, and the Masala (Masala means spice) deer meat was equally good in the following day brunch. Fortunately most of the deer were spared thanks to the bad marksmanship of my friend. I did not raise the gun even. It would have been real massacre.
(Dear Agia, I know, you don’t believe me that I did not shoot. But trust me, I really didn’t this time)
In a lighter moment I asked my friend “Why do you kill those animals, they will be extinct".
“Dada this is the problem with you city guys, forgive me, you have never seen a deer except in zoo, hardly seen trees forget about forest. I live in forest, I breath forest, I sleep in forest. I know what is forest. I see deer, I live with them, I sleep with them ,I love them, I eat them too.”
He continued, “I have been reading in news papers, since childhood that all wild life will vanish in next 10 yrs, my foot, 30 years had already gone” The Mohua was doing its job on both.
My friend continued, “I tell you, the rate at which these deer reproduce, you come after 10 years, you will see, the forest is gone. There will be no tree. You will be only bumping into deer every where, even if the tigers, leopards, me, my boss, his wife, colleagues, and the villagers take their share. You bet Rs. 100 with me and come after 10 years. You will pay me Rs 100.(Koyangiya, I am talking of a time when Gold was Rs.150 for 10 gms.)
We had lot of discussion on wild life protection, forest conservation over Mohua.
It was time to get back to civilization.(!!!!!???)
While coming back, we stopped near a brook to have a smoke. He was a chain smoker, but never smoked indiscriminately in the forest, there had to be water body around to dispose the cigarette.
He was unmindful, thinking some thing.
I was thinking of him, a bad school student, a university drop out, I mean dropped out to take up the job, to support his elder brother's studies, comes from an extremely financially poor background,
Suddenly, he broke silence “Dada, I was thinking of all the good things you told me about forest, killing Innocent animals, conservation etc I value what you say. But I am sure they will not die, they won’t be extinct.”
He continued, "But you know “Bhakshaks" (eaters) can not be "Rakshaks" (Protectors)”. There must be some other way to save them. If I don't eat (not deer, any thing,) how do I live?? I am on the top of the food chain. It is my privilege; it is God’s wish that I eat at my will.”
"Dada, you have made me sad by giving these stupid lectures, but I have no reasons to believe that the deer will be extinct. I really love them. Anyway, as soon as we reach home, I will tell mum, to cook deer meat with lot of green chili, mustard paste, garlic paste, and red chili powder, and fresh tomato from the back yard. You like it, I remember. But there will be no drink and no smoking at home. Father still thinks we are kids.”
This is just a story for you. You like stories, told in a dialogue form.
My dear cute sekki Koyangi, I am sorry for the violent argument we had at Incheon airport last March, over those stupid topics of conservation, vegetarian, non vegetarian, ‘animals feel pain, vegetables don’t etc etc.
Actually I must confess, I indulged you in the argument, just to see your beautiful face turning red from ear to ear, brows dancing, your silky hair tossing around with violent shake of your head, eyes burning with the message, “I will kill you”.
But at the end, jumping into my arms with your million dollar laughter made my farewell quite memorable too.
More in my next letter,
Miss you really. Yonguoni Sarang-hamnida