Visaka Duck Release
This weekend was Visaka in this SE Asian country, the celebration of the Buddha’s birthday. To commemorate the day, one of the activities is showing mercy to animals by doing ‘life release’. People buy loads of live fish from the fish market and release them back into the sea far beyond the fishing nets or they buy birds from the bird market and release them way up in the mountains because many are trained by their owners to come back to their cages and get recycled.
Also this weekend, our new housemate arrived from the UK. We explained to her about the Visaka and that we had done bird life release the day before. She thought this was a nice custom and decided she wanted to do this too, dedicating the act of compassion to a sick friend back home.
Later, I ran into her walking back from the outdoor market, carrying a struggling large white duck. It was late afternoon and housewives were out doing their shopping for the evening meal. I asked her what she planned on doing with the duck.
“I’m going to release it, of course." I pointed out that, unlike the birds which are normally bought for release, this variety did not fly. It had had its wings clipped for market.
Nearby was a large park with an aviary and a petting zoo so we decided to take it there. The park was just closing and the groundskeeper wouldn’t take it so we sat on a bench to think about our next move.
Suddenly the duck struggled out of Tracy’s arms and half-flew, half-ran down the path and around a corner. We went after it but couldn’t find it. Tracy said “Well, it’s free now. It’ll probably find a nice pond to make its home and it’ll be happy.”
We were thinking we had done a very good deed as walked out of the park, when we heard a commotion of squawking and women yelling. As we rounded the corner, there was our duck flapping and running toward us with a half a dozen housewives running after it armed with cleavers, bags and baskets, bent on catching it for their dinner.
I scooped up the frantic duck and we ran out onto the street, diving into a slow-passing tuk-tuk. We promised him extra money if he could out-distance the housewives, who were still running after us and who thought we were thieves. After all, we had no way of proving the duck was ours.
So now we have another new housemate.
We have named him “Lucky”.