A Birdwatcher

Abu Siddik

- Abu Siddik

“Hey, old man! What are you poking about in this part of the forest?” lambasted the oval faced, bulbous nosed, red eyed, little bulging man from behind.  He looked exactly a butcher.
The old man did not care. He was all alone and wistfully watching the myriad birds, flicking, flapping, twirling, whirling. The sun has almost died. And the forest was orangey. 
The short man howled again. Mr. Dhir now looked back and benignly asked, “Who are you, my brother?”
“Who are you and what are you smelling in the forest at this dying hour?” thumping the bed of fallen leaves with a dry twig he blared.
“It’s none of your trade, I suppose,” casually Mr. Dhir riposted and he glowed. “Wow! What’s a blaspheme! The parrots perched in columns and the branches hung heavy to the ground. Pigeons, doves, herons, shaliks, mynas, flycatchers, kingfishers, cuckoos, peacocks, langurs—what a feast to the eye! Ah! My goodness!”
“I ask who are you and what the devil are you doing?” the short man impatiently scowled.
Mr. Dhir examined the pigmy man, bald, teeth yellowish.
“Why are so fiery? You are not kind to an old man! What sort of fellow are you? You look a thief. What do you steal from a poor birdwatcher?  Take this binocular, take it. It is a gift on my sixty ninth birthdays from one of my friends who has a shop in the town,” harangued Mr. Dhir and with an air of affability he handed him the pair of binoculars and cajoled, “Bask and feast your eyes, my friend.”
“I can’t handle it,” he flared and briskly returned it back as if a fire singed him.
“Let me set it to your eye level then,” Mr. Dhir stooped.
“Don’t bend an inch old, smelly haggard. Do you think I am a fool?” fiercely he spat.
“Don’t you like birds?” coolly queried the old man.
“Birds I hunt. It has a huge market and day by day demands are skyrocketing. My clients are averse to poultry. So, I supply the fine fellows herons, doves, parrots, etc. They never bargain. It’s a helluva job! Some cook, others cage and rear,” bluntly babbled the short man.
“Your ticket? I think it’s a reserve forest.”
“Who needs it?” he parried, “You need it as you are a stranger and you are watching the birds of our forest. I am a local hunter. I catch and sell. And the forester is my crony. Once in a blue moon I offer him a bottle and he is happy and he makes me happier.”
“Birds are god’s gift to regale us and you are dirtying yourself with god’s bounties! Shame on you!  Uh! Are you a man or a beast?” Mr. Dhir repulsively put.
“A beast! Any issue?” he fired.
“No, not at all.”
Silence followed for a while. The forest looked gray and weary.
“Birds are coming in clusters. I need to be wary. Could you lend your hand a bit?”
Mr. Dhir was terribly upset. He looked grim and stood silent for a while. The short man watchfully sat at a distance and munched ghutkha.
It was twilight. Soon darkness would wrap the forest. Mr. Dhir trudged along the dusty path and came lousily back to the gate. The forester exuded a broad smile. An excruciating pain gnawed him.
“Good bye, sir,” bade the forester.
“Good bye, my dear friend, good bye,” Mr. Dhir waved him without turning his head back.

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