I was a kid back then—some three decades ago. My father was a civil servant, and he was posted in Chunarughat. We stayed at a two-storey bungalow along with my brother, sister and our parents. Our bedrooms and living rooms were in the first floor and the ground floor hosted my father's residential office.
My father was a plant and pet person. Wherever he was transferred for his administrative job, he would surround his living space with plants and animals. For us kids, it was fun to be surrounded by plants and animals. Life was good.
Our Chunarughat bungalow had goats, a couple of cows, chickens and ducks as usual. In addition to them, we had a special bird—a migratory duck. My father found this duck in the first winter at Chunarughat, while walking through a tea garden. The duck was small, and it was injured. He could not fly, and he had an injury in his leg.
Being an animal lover, he brought him home and my mother began nursing him. My father built a house for the little duck in the front yard. Soon the duck was healthy and he could fly. But the duck did not leave us.
We called him ducky. We still do not know what kind of duck he was—but he was no ordinary duck.
In a matter of a few months, ducky grew into a massive one—As big as a swan and made loud quirky sounds. Along with his size, his personality grew. Ducky refused to stay at the front yard house and flew up to the rooftop that had many pot plants— and slept there every night.
Before the crack of dawn, my mom—who loved Ducky like he is her child— got up every day and prepares a big bowl of meal. Then she would walk up the stairs to the rooftop and give the bowl to the duck. He would gulp down the whole meal in one go, then jump up on the roof wall—and dive down the lawn— spread his mighty wings and would fly to the nearby ponds and canals.
After feeding there for the whole day, Ducky would return home flying and land on the rooftop at dusk. Then he had a mandatory curious routine: he would walk down the stairs and enter our bed rooms one by one to check if everyone is home. My father would invariably not be up his room at that time. So he would climb down the stairs and enter my father's office room. If my father is there talking to other people, he would just check and fly up to the rooftop and go to sleep. If he is not there, the duck would go to the front yard and wait till my father's return.
Because of this routine behavior, everyone in the family loved him a lot. We used to hug him and play with him when he is back in the evening.
It is further strange that whenever we returned to Dhaka during vacations, Ducky would fly away and not come back till we have returned home. He became famous as a pet in our extended family.
So one time we packed him in a big basket and brought him to Dhaka for our relatives to see. We stayed in Dhaka for about 10 days, and he was very supportive of our vacation. He slept in the basket while roamed around the house during the day, eating this and that.
At that point, we could not imagine our lives without our Ducky.
But my father was a government official and he is always on the move. After two years he had to move back to Dhaka.
We kids were excited by the prospect of returning to Dhaka. But soon we started wondering what will happen to Ducky? Can we take him with us? Our mom agreed—yes, we love him so much. It will be a little inconvenient, but let us take him.
Ducky watched us pack things. So instead of his daily routine of flying around, we saw him whole day watching us pack and move things from the house and pile them on the front yard for trucks to load them.
Ducky stopped eating for the last two days while staying with us all days long. So my mom cooked his favourite meal, went to the rooftop with us and served him the bowl. We wanted to grab ducky right after the meal and pack him in his basket and take him to Dhaka. We were tearful as we saw him gobble his whole meal. My mom hugged the ducky—and so did we.
Then our beloved ducky spread its wing and suddenly took off. It seemed that he understood it all. Just like his migratory bird-family left him, it was time his human-family was leaving him. But never mind. Life goes on.
We watched him fly away, not looking back even once, hoping that he would come back.
Mom waited for him in the evening, but he did not come back. We cried for ducky. And after coming back to Dhaka, we checked back with the Chunarughat Bungalow people if ducky had returned. No, he did not.