Friday, March 02, 2012

Oh Deer!

It was almost 4 pm on a Saturday. Daddy would be home soon from the bank; they closed early on Saturdays. He would very likely bring hot samosas with him and the whole family would eat the early- evening snack together. It was special but that’s not why we looked forward to Saturdays. 

When we were growing up and I was about 8 years old, Saturdays were for visiting the Deer Park. In a children’s park spread atop Seminary Hills in Nagpur was a small zoo with just a few varieties of deer and a leopard I think…oh yes, a bear too. But the most numerous were the Chital Deer. They had a huge enclosure too and they rarely came close to the fence. One could see them graze away in their sanctuary. And it was better that way since if they came close to the fence people would feed them popcorn and what not. But not my father. 

On Saturdays, after the snack, Daddy would get his daughters dressed up and head out to the Deer Park in Seminary Hills. We would always stop by this one vegetable vendor on the way and pick up spinach…lots of it. And then we’d be off to feed spinach to the deer.

The first few times it took a while before the deer even came to eat and we had to wait quite a bit but after a while, they would almost instantaneously come close to the fence when we landed with the bunches of spinach. I didn’t know for long that my father had taken permission from the zoo authorities so that we could feed the animals. Even today I remember how beautiful the whole experience was…deer clambering for the fresh spinach, small ones and big, and us hurrying up to pluck from our bunches and feeding them through the wire mesh. The crowds wouldn’t arrive until almost 6 so we got some good time with the deer. Easily an hour or more would pass without any of us saying too much and just feeding the deer. It was satiating and always left us happy when we were done. And we would always be more eager than before to come back.

After the deer-feeding Daddy would sometimes buy us juice, sometimes popcorn and sometimes we would get a horse ride in the play area. But by far the most special part of our Saturdays was feeding the deer.

Looking back, it wasn’t all about fun, feeding the deer. In his own way, Daddy showed us the importance of small personal rituals, ceremonies and traditions. He showed us the importance of giving each other the gift of time; even if we were not talking to each other while feeding the deer (my father was a man of few words anyway), it was one of the most meaningful interactions I had with my father. Most of all, my father taught me early on about being kind to animals. And to this day, our ritual of visiting the Deer Park and feeding the deer is etched in my memory as one of the most real experiences ever.


This post has been written as an entry for The Kissan 100% Real Blogger Contest organized by Indiblogger and Kissan. Head over there to share your own experience with us all.

6 Thinkers Pondered:

Seema said...

very sweet memories six yrs old son(Aarya)also love to visit zoo...he love all the animals there...all the best for the contest

Anupama said...

Thank you so much Seema! I am sure Aarya will grow up with fond memories of his zoo visits too...I know I did :)

Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli said...

That was a very nice thing to do on weekends. Me and my husband have been reliving childhood days by visiting zoos, beaches and national parks for the last 2 years... there's something about real experiences... since rest of the time when either one of us is free, playing games on ipad / nintendo is the recreational activity

Kajal said...

beautifully written. I could almost feel the place.

Glad to have found you at Indiblogger. Your newest follower and aregular visitor now

Anupama said...

Hi Anuradha,

Good to know you are trying to relive your childhood memories...I think its important to keep that part of us alive...thank you for the comment :)

Hey Kajal,

Thank you so much for the warm words and the encouragement :) Welcome to the blog!

specs buffy said...

I just stumbled on your blog- and found this entry for the contest very " dear"some:)
I for one take " kindness to animals" as the bottom line- lovely and nostalgic too!