On a drive to make this man live. Continuing from
Remember me with a Lotus: Memoirs of Heaven and Birds in Kashmir
Help Save the Birdman of Kashmir: A Fundraiser
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Even though Rasool’s favourite rooster died in old age but his death was not natural. By the time he died, the deepest virtue he attained was patience. And carried the Curiosity of a crow. He was a fighter Cock. And is remembered for his last fight that he fought with the heaviest cat on Dal Lake in Kashmir.
The cat would start swimming as soon as the sun would set, from the foothill of the Shankaracharya temple crossing Dal and coming to the backyard of Rasool’s houseboat named Abu and Sheeba. It was said that it was she who inspired a line of dogs to cross the lake to find newer avenues to hunt and eat. But being a cat she would come and take all her time to roam and plan all night. It was noticed that the chicken count was declining day by day till that one night when she found Rasool’s king rooster standing in front stopping her way, ready to fight for his children and three wives. The fight was so fierce that all the birds which were witnessing this once in a lifetime confrontation decided not to chear or chirp. Thinking of the far future, they kept silent for they knew that the cats can hear even the wind speak. The battle went on for many minutes. As it was the cat who got a surprise of her life in the valor with which the king rooster cracked her first line of defence. She cried in pain. Children came out of room. With blankets on them. He had injured her in the stomach, and punctured her ribs. He would meticulously fly like a baby helicopter and come back standing behind her to attack her from behind. Her injured ribs robbed her off of sharpness. And It made the car furious as she kept crying in anger. She would hiss and attack but waited for that moment when he was still in the air about to land again, becoming predictable, in control but not in control. The moment rooster came down this time, she threw her front paw from left so fast that king Rooster fell far and on his back. He lost one of his shoulder. He could not stand. The fight was over. The cat left limping.
This battle went down as the most audacious one in the history of Bird Park. King rooster was hailed and acknowledged by the birds. The cat hadn’t come after that night. His popularity now knew no bounds. But as his health deteriorated in the following days, four other cocks came from a nearby farm and attacked him one after other. It was said that these roosters had lost their fights earlier and were thirsty for revenge. Also some wanted to marry one of his three wives. And so it was planned and they came down cruelly on him. It left King Rooster blinded in one eye and eventually resulted in losing all his confidence. He started walking strangely. And with it lost his curiosity, and appetite. Yet he lived through the summer hard, resting, hiding, escaping, rebuilding again and well. Slowly as the time was healing him and he had started regaining his lost skin, looking like getting better, healthier. Rasool found him upturned, floating dead in the lake one morning.
Rasool had ten swans, twelve ducks, four sheeps, three hen and their army of hundreds of children and the King Rooster. Over the years Rasool had tried to keep as many birds but scaled it down as it became hard to provide food for everyone from home. The swans who were loved by all, and who had acquired many names from children and the visitors alike also started dying mysteriously, one by one once I left Rasool’s bird park just before the arrival of winters.
I had come to Srinagar to work on an ongoing project with a channel. When I first met Rasool, he was mentoring and guiding the team, taking them to places in Srinagar to meet and interview people. You can find the link to the seven documentaries here. And cooked for them in the evening before leaving to feed his birds back home.
It was quite late in the night when I first arrived from Delhi. I went into kitchen succumbing to my hunger and found a man fast asleep, sitting. A cigarette hung between his fingers, his mouth open and his suspended jaw was drooping out between his lips, like an organ hanging just like that. He was tired. And couldn’t leave for home that night.
Thus I met Rasool the next winter morning. Hurriedly making sugar tea. Leaving everything to the god in his speech. He took more sugar than I, even though he had diabetes.
Rasool was born under the oldest bridge on Jhelum few months before the Indian independence in 1947. They eventually left that place as the water in Jhelum reduced and finally for the first time came to Dal. But it will take me another nine months of understanding the ways of Ghulam Rasool. As I kept coming back and forth from Delhi to Srinagar. By the time my work finished with the organization and everyone else left I decided to stay longer to write and document Kashmiri life then for a Photo book, as Rasool allowed me to stay with him in his only room on the House Boat.
My life was changing, and I didn’t know it. Because for next six months I would be living on water.
The one who rows is called the Keeper. And the Keeper sits behind, overlooking the boat. Making decisions, just like in life. Rasool taught me to row in theory but made me work hard to find out how. It wasn’t easy to start at all. But once i did, it was me who became his keeper. He would tell me the way and many a night we rowed deep inside Dal, hidden bylanes somewhere. Once we were crossing through a never seen before path when Ozzola and Aligator weed grasses arrived making the journey arduous. We rowed through and left four wooden bridges behind that join the floating houses in the older part of Dal when we saw that same cat, flat, upturned, dead, floating.
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Please watch this small film on Rasool, for his Birdpark is important. A Fundraiser film. And let me know what you think.
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I have been overwhelmed with so many emails that have come in last couple of days to support Rasool that it even made me emotional to read them. I thank you. And I am thankful to each one of you for writing, for feeling, for understanding. Thank you.
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Anyone who may consider this important for Rasool’s life, must know that your contribution will make way for my unparalleled affection and gratitude, and whatever new Work, Project, Book, Travels, Film, Give aways i do in my life, you will have my unmoved attention and will always be amongst the first ones to receive a letter from me, till i am living.
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If you are living in India, you can help Rasool by Supporting/Contributing here
And if you are living anywhere outside India, please write to me at email@example.com
We are looking to arrange INR 5,00,000/- by 31st March ’22
Whatever will be the contributions, i will mention it here, to keep it honest and out for everyone by the end of this campaign.
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If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste
And I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;
As a Traveller, my lessons from ten years on the Road , even though its been many more, before you coarse on your own Road to Nara.
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