By Haroon Rashid Dar
“Oh, how I love adventure! And today is such a pleasant day… The greenery of nature, the flower booms, and this scorching heat of July..!” thought Muhammad Asif to himself.
He made up his mind and left for a tourist destination home in his own vehicle all alone to enjoy the fresh and cool air in the silence of the meadows and forests without human disturbance, which was about a hundred kilometers away from his home.
In the afternoon, he was driving smoothly and enjoying the thrill of the music playing in his car. Soon after, he was driving in the middle of the meadows and was lost in his imaginations of nature. He sighted a beautiful bird with green feathers, a red beak and a long tail dancing and singing in a pleasing tone perched on the branch of a tree. He stopped his car, watching the bird amazed and did not even notice the passage of time as hours passed away. He spilled some grains on the road and the bird came down flying. Both Asif and the bird befriended each other as Asif stood watching the bird.
The bird took short flights towards the forest and Asif followed it silently, till it took him to the middle of the forest. The bird again started singing in its attractive tone. Asif was listening from behind a tree. He slowly took his mobile phone out to capture the video of the bird. However, the mobile phone rang loudly and the bird swiftly flew away and disappeared.
Ah, this has ruined my work, he fumed silently and disconnected his phone in anger. The phone rang again, and this time too he disconnected it. The third time he reluctantly saw the number and immediately received the call. Oh! It is the boss. . “Sir I am at work and I will report to you very soon!” he said, and the line disconnected. Suddenly around him from behind the trees appeared a group of seven armed men. “Hands up” said the commander of the group. The earth receded from beneath Asif’s feet and perspiration burst throughout his whole body.
“What are you doing here? You are an intruder and you have transgressed the boundaries of our area!”, he said.
“Who are you?” asked Asif in baffled voice. ‘We will let you know right now!’ answered the leader of the group. “Only an enemy or an enemy’s agent (meaning police agent) would intrude in our area, so who ever you may be, you will have to face same punishment”, said one of them.
“Kill him” the commander ordered his men in anger. All the party members raised their sharp axes high in the air to strike hard on Asif, who was already fainting, in order to slice him into pieces.
“Stop!” the leader ordered his men as their weapons were a few centimeters distant. Asif fell down unconsciously on the trunk of a tree and started bleeding through his mouth and nose out of frigt. They thought he probably died of fear without being killed. They took their weapons and went on to ransack the forest. They brought down the big trees and cleared a big plot, which was their the main target. This was the notorious gang of forest smugglers. They were enthusiastically running the saw on the trees. Then, they would burst into laughter and appreciation as the trees were felling down with loud crashes. They were calling themselves the lions of the forest.
All the creatures who were losing their homes, their nests and shelter, the animals, the baby birds raised a loud noise, cursing the humans and wailing the destruction of their homes.
As they finished their work and were ready to run away, Asif showed some sign of movement. The commander pointed towards his fellow men and asked them what should be done with that beast (Asif) lying on the trunk of the tree . One of the them said, they should certainly kill him and leave him for the wild animals or he may report to police. Another said they should drag him to the center of the forest. I have an idea said the leader of the group, we will tie him fast with a tree by ropes so he will die a natural death and there would be no murder on our shoulders. Yes, said all the fellow men in a united voice. They spiraled the rope around half dead Asif with a tree from toe to head, each one of them kicked and smashed him and left him in oblivion.
Sun dipped into the night and Asif was lying there all alone in the dark forest. A sweet voice pierced the ears of Asif that rejuvenated in him new life. He showed some signs of being alive. A bird with green feathers, a red beak and a long tail had appeared on the branch of a tree near Asif.
The birds encouraged him to live and sang:
Survive my friend survive
I wish you, be alive
I will spread wings to hide you
I will carry you, on my wings too
O, my friend open your eyes
No one listens our cries
Those who harmed you
Destroyed our homes too
Survive friend, and prove
What others failed to do
I will be always with you
Survive, my promise to you
O, God make him rise again
I would delight him again and again
And the bird came down unraveling the threads of the rope and freeing Asif from the bondage, whispering in his ears “I am the call of life”. The bird asked him to follow it back towards the road where he had parked his vehicle. Asif followed the bird limping, standing and again falling till he reached the vehicle. The bird told him then, “Man has destroyed and disturbed every creature on the earth. GOD is angry with everyone .. those who have cleared these forests and those who are silent. Then it swiftly flew away and disappeared.
Author studies Convergent Journalism at Central University of Kashmir.