Friday, June 15, 2012

Dearest "Bootler"! We will miss you

"Bootler" finally rests in peace.

His controversial and rather dictatorial existence at my parents' home, which was nothing short of a cold war (between his sympathisers and opponents) has come to an end. And I am left with  mixed feelings.
While it is a relief to see his suffering come to an end, it also now seems like the loss of a dear one.

"Bootler" usually managed to antagonise everyone except my elder brother and his family, specially my younger nephew who was so totally devoted to this innocent-looking chicken from the moment it landed in their third-floor apartment as a gift from a well wisher.

As a chick "Bootler" was very cute, all pearly white and oh-so-lovable. And as he moved about unhindered, he resembled a small round ball of feathers making its way playfully around the spacious apartment. That is how he got the name "Bootler" ( my brother's rather strange  coinage for "someone short " )
"Bootler" soon became the most sought-after "toy" and every child who visited my parents' place wanted to spend time with him, feed him, play with him....
In fact some children accompanied their moms only on the condition that they would be allowed to play with "Bootler".

He was a wonderful flyer...and that was one magnificent sight : to see him in flight...perfect and almost ethereal !!!
Often while searching for food among the plants he would fly over to the pine trees in the near-by park....or hide among the folliage of the mango tree  that the neighbour patronised.
But come evening, and he was sincerely back home.

I am sure "Bootler" enjoyed all that attention.  I have not studied animal psychology, but it is  my strong apprehension that the popularity bloated his little head. He was growing up well physically, but his manners were taking a dip. He started pouncing on the children who so affectionately tried to caress his plumage. At times he would sting them with his claws or his hard sharp beak.
He grew big and shall I say a bit scary....
And then there came a time when he had to be left alone on the terrace of the building all through the day and brought back to keep in captivity through the night.

But this did not deter my younger nephew who became even more fond of "Bootler", devoting every minute of his spare time looking after the now lonely "Bootler". Feeding him, shampooing his abundant mass of off-white feathers, cleaning his dwelling and so much more.
They graduated from being the best of friends  to becoming soul mates .

Like the Sun that rises, comes to a glorious peak and then slowly sets down, "Bootler" too began sinking in time. The first signs of deterioration came with a bulge in his leg. He lost his gait. Then he began to loose his balance.  His pearly white ferthers became muddy in colour. His comb crumpled and faded. He could hardly move.
And when my nephew picked him up, all one saw was a mass of muddy feathers. Even the head was not visible most of the time.

One could not help but feel sorry for  "Bootler", and forgive the dear-little-terror that he had once-upon-a-time been.
And then his suffering became  unbearably painful. My nephew and his mother literally prayed for him and were still praying by his side when "Bootler" breathed his last.

Now he rests in peace.
But will surely be missed for a long time.

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