It was just another day, in my 15-day-old life. I used my prehensile lip to grasp grass stems, bite off the top, and eat the grass. The sun went down, as I wandered, alone. I enjoy my solitude. I like talking to myself, and bleating at the trees, who reply to me with the rumbling sound of their leaves.
I gazed at the leafy sky and tried to join the scintillating dots to form a face I knew and missed the most. The serene sky reminded me of my mother, her patient and tender eyes. She had been hunted down by some two-legged creatures whose scent I had never before smelt. I still remember hearing rubber move on the ground and a large metallic vehicle stop. When those creatures spotted my mother, two pulled out, what looked like long sticks. One screeched and was soon joined by more of his type. Five surrounded my mother with a net, a few of them were holding those sticks. Bang! Bang! Bang! Three of them shot her one-by-one, and left behind an eerie silence.
I can never forget their fiery, murderous eyes and my mothers helpless, pleading ones. She asked me to run and hide. Those were her last words to me…
After a few hours, the scent of those two-legged creatures dissipated. I went back to that sport, where I had last seen her. She lay there, motionless, I called out to her, but she did not respond, but rested there, still. I had just spent seven evenings with my mother; I was just seven days old…I cannot express how grief-stricken I was when I saw that her polished black horn was missing from her forehead. My eyes swelled up and I let out a loud roar. I picked out the most succulent leaves from the bushes around and laid them near her …I had lost the one I loved most, and paid homage to her.
My mother had taught me to be hopeful, but I could never deduce why those two-legged creatures harmed us, why all that they cared about was the shiny horn on an old rhino’s forehead. I had heard stories that so many of my breed died because of their greed? We had never hurt even those, who had intruded into our territory, cut down our trees and destroyed our habitat. Now they left me, orphaned…Their cruelty left me agitated and ill at ease.
I listened to the wind whisper in my ear, as I made my way to the pond. Ahhh! I loved swimming, the cool water calms my tense nerves and helped me to ponder with a clear mind.
I bobbed my head and licked my new friend, whose plight was same as mine… we comforted each other. He was a week older than me and we often swam and played together now. His mother had taught him how to carefully feed on the plants floating in the pool, before she went missing…suddenly.
I waddled out of the pool and headed towards my favourite spot in my territory. I sat there, listening to the whisper of the tree. Then, just then, I smelt the same smell, the one I had smelt eight days earlier, the day my mother had died…
I stood up, hastily and tried camouflaging with the dull surroundings. My silver-brown skin blended in well with the barks of trees, but I was still afraid, because the scent of those two-legged creatures only grew stronger.
I strained my eyes, to focus on those creatures that were rapidly advancing towards me. I spoke to the trees, asking them to protect me, to keep me safe from those cunning, brutal men. They replied to my desperate plea by rustling their leaves.
Those creatures had something special this time, it glowed dimly at first, but then started emitting loud sounds as and when they got closer to me. I knew, all was over, when a net was thrown over me by six strong beings. I shrieked, frightened.
My eyes moistened, I felt that I would meet the same fate as my mother. I closed my eyes and thought about her. But, no, this time, I did not hear the loud and piercing sound. My eyes met one of the two-legged creature’s, when I opened them. His eyes were gentle, and gave me an assurance that everything was going to be alright. I let out a loud bleat, and a silent prayer.
The trees gave me a reassuring whisper. They felt the same positive vibes from those men, and told me to be optimistic…I remembered my mother, once again. I waited as those men carefully drew near and lifted me onto a large slab. I squeaked and snorted as I bid farewell to the trees and to my land. I asked the trees to take care of my territory, in my absence and said I would be back soon. But, the trees and I, both knew otherwise.
I looked at my home for the very last time, as two men climbed onto the slab with me, and shut the cage. I was confused and scared, but was glad that I hadn’t been killed on the spot, but also anxious of what the future held for me.
After a rough journey, which lasted for two evenings, we finally came to a halt. When the metallic web was lifted, I caught sight of a big, green meadow, skirted with trees and dotted with ponds. I saw a few more unfamiliar faces of my kind and was soon set free.
I missed the trees that would whisper to me, my friend…my land, my territory…my home. I groaned as I walked stealthily towards the closest puddle and swam towards the nearest rhino. She was happy to see me and smiled amicably and welcomed me in my new home for our diminishing breed…a sanctuary, the Kaziranga National Park.