Ducks in the city

Once upon a time, my common sense left the house for a walk around the block and returned bearing two tiny ducklings bought from a woman in Sunday bazaar, Karachi’s bustling weekend market.

It wasn’t as if we lived on a farm, or even an independent little bungalow with a sweet little back garden and a pond. Not as if aforementioned common sense gave even a passing thought to where the ducklings would bloom and grow. No. It just saw two fuzzy yellow, beady-eyed, flappy-footed creatures and thought, ‘Must have!’

We kept them in a basket lined with newspaper and gave them crumbs of bread and water. The very same night, common sense had a heart attack when it realized that the ducklings were VERY demanding and made a LOT of noise.

But as with all disasters, one quickly learns to cope, and the brain shuts down in self defense. One even urges one’s daughter to think of suitable names for the new pets. And so it came to be that 5-yr old Amu decisively pronounced the bigger one to be Apple and the smaller one to be Cherry, her two favourite fruits at the time.

Apple was the better looking of the two ducklings. Cherry always looked duller, more woebegone. Who knew how to figure out their respective genders.

The idea was for little Amu to learn how to take care of little animals, and she did, dutifully chopping up slices of bread into bite-size pieces for baby duck beaks to tackle. It was a delight to watch them gobble and drink so feistily! But Amu had school and homework and had to go to bed early, and the ducklings grew louder and chirped incessantly if they lost sight of any of us. So I ended up spending more time with them than Amu. They grew pretty fast too, and within days, the basket could no longer contain their curious souls. They quickly learnt to jump out of there and run around our tiny apartment, Apple the venturesome one and Cherry following trepidatiously in his footsteps. If we wanted to fool them into thinking it was bedtime, we’d cover the basket with a cloth and turn off the lights and if we were lucky they’d settle down and go to sleep, cuddled against each other. But the slightest sound would wake them, and so we all learned to be really quiet at night lest we woke the little imps.

ducks

A month or so went by this way, during which we filled tubs of water and let them swim as long as they liked. I made them a bigger home under a wicker bench in our tiny 6th floor balcony. After experimenting with different types of food, it had been determined they loved chopped ribbons of green lettuce, so we always kept a supply in the house and Apple and Cherry devoured every last scrap of their treat with frequent sips from their water bowl.

I could never have known just how much of a bane those two cuties would become to my existence. All they did was eat, drink, poop (they even ate their own poop!) and generally make a huge mess of their balcony habitat. All I did was feed them, hang out with them, worry about their food if I had to go out for too many hours, and clean up after them twice a day. I began to dread coming home, and lingered too long in bed in the morning so I wouldn’t have to get up and chop more lettuce. The newspapers I used to line the floor of their makeshift cage would be sodden with water and green poop and it stank to high heaven. I’d have to don my gloves and wrap a scarf around my face before Operation Cleanup.

I had two T-rexes in my balcony!

A couple more months went by this way, Apple and Cherry were now 5 times their original size and our house smelt fowl. I thought wistfully of the days when the house smelt of fresh laundry. Huz and I had had a few guilt-ridden conversations about how to find a more natural environment for them. I finally understood why Hansel and Gretel’s stepmother could do what she did. The only place I could think of taking them to (and leaving them there) was Hill Park.

One of the oldest parks in Karachi, Hill Park has, at the centre of its undulating landscape, a large man-made pond. Full of geese. And…..ducks. People visiting the park would buy popcorn and feed the ducks and that would be the highlight of their excursion.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make perfect sense. I imagined a kindly grown up duck taking Apple and Cherry under her generous wing and teaching them the ways of life in a ducky community. I pictured them finally working out the meaning of their lives as they took to the pond like…er…ducks to……hmm.

So it was that early one cool Sunday morning, we packed the ducklings into a wicker basket and set off for Hill Park, just to scope out the territory. We let Apple and Cherry out and they walked in wonder and bafflement in this strange new grassy environment. That was when I saw how scrawny and small and vulnerable they looked compared to those magnificent fully grown specimens of their own kind, who were all mostly sitting around the edge of the pond, preening in the morning sun. My hopes of finding an adoptive mommy-duck began to seem ludicrous.

The cross-specie maternal instinct kicked in when Huz pointed out a mean-looking tomcat gazing steadily at our fledgling duckies. No way could we leave them behind unprotected over here.

Amu scurried to grab the two and bundle them back into the picnic basket, and as we walked back to the car, my mind had already started thinking about Option #2.

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16 thoughts on “Ducks in the city

  1. satsumaart November 14, 2013 / 5:49 pm

    I laughed out loud at “smelt fowl.” Ah, I can’t wait to see how this turns out. A friend’s housemate once came home from a fair with a duck and my friend complained a great deal about the smell and her uncharitable imaginings that a large bag of onions would fall from their high shelf at just the right moment… 😉

    • Munira November 15, 2013 / 1:41 pm

      I like the idea of you laughing out loud Lisa! 🙂 and tsk tsk, how VERY uncharitable of your friend…..*snicker*

      • satsumaart November 15, 2013 / 3:46 pm

        She is not an animal person. 😉 Nor small children, if it comes to that. 😉

  2. grahamatlinc November 14, 2013 / 5:56 pm

    You delivered as promised. Have a cyber duck for luck ,….(‘)> 🙂

    • Munira November 15, 2013 / 1:47 pm

      Your comment on Heather’s post shook me out of blogger inertia! So thank you for mentioning ducks and salad leaves, for following my blogs, and most of all for reading this post! 🙂

      p.s love the cyber duck!

  3. berlioz November 14, 2013 / 8:40 pm

    What a delightful story, Munira. Poor you and poor ducks. I wonder how Amu will feel about option # 2? She will change her opinion about you when she sees you sharpening the knife. Will you become the wicket witch in Hansel and Gretel? Keep us informed.

    • Munira November 15, 2013 / 1:48 pm

      Thank you Peter! Don’t worry, I happen to be a very kindly witch 🙂 No ducks were harmed in the making of this memory!

  4. Maryam Kakal November 15, 2013 / 11:50 pm

    munni khala ur house never smelt foul and btw hows fuzzy?? hope ur well and i’m extremely curious 2 find out whether option no.2 was what i was thinking it was or not..

    • Munira November 16, 2013 / 4:11 am

      Haha, you were probably two when the ducklings happened Maryam dear! Imagine….if we had left them at Hill park, Apple and Cherry would have been your neighbours! 🙂
      Fuzzy is as much of a nuisance as ever but in good health thankfully 😛 I on the other hand haven’t slept much all night due to a terrible cold which is now making throat hurt and ears pop most painfully 😦

  5. Heather November 16, 2013 / 12:39 am

    As usual, your post does not disappoint – except that you left us with a cliffhanger 🙂 I bet they did smell! When I lived in Georgia, we were near several chicken farms, and they smelled far fouler than the hogs my father raised.
    Cannot believe you brought home ducks for pets. Though Amu looks super-cute with them. Okay, maybe I can believe it 🙂

    • Munira November 16, 2013 / 4:04 am

      I couldn’t believe I had brought home ducks for pets either. You can imagine my horror when I came back to my senses!
      In retrospect, I believe those two little demons taught me a lot. Like being extremely wary around incredibly cute things! All’s well that ends well though, as you shall soon learn 😉

  6. crazygoangirl November 20, 2013 / 3:50 am

    Ducks!!! Seriously??!! M!!! Another fascination aspect of your wonderfully colourful personality revealed 😉 Off to read the next post now on the Duck Saga…I’m assuming it was a saga? 😛

    No but really M?? Not a puppy or a kitten or a parrot…Ducks!!! Uff!!

    • Munira November 20, 2013 / 7:01 pm

      I’ve had my fair share of kittens too 😉 And you should have seen them H! Bet you wouldn’t have been able to resist them either! On second thought though, I give you credit for way more sense. Aap tou bari samajhdar doctorni sahiba hain! 🙂

      • crazygoangirl November 21, 2013 / 4:18 am

        LOL @ samajhdaar 😛😉 Now if they were puppies….but M…I envy you that wonderful impulsiveness 🙂 But no more ducks 😉

      • berlioz1935 November 21, 2013 / 12:27 pm

        I understand you completely. I love ducks too.

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