“The story is good, but the video is bad, I wonder how a duck can have a tail like a porcupine..?” asked Kris. He was an eight year old kid visiting us with his parents for the weekend.
I had played a cartoon video for him. It was based on Sukumar Ray’s “literary nonsense” story. When I was a kid I enjoyed reading Sukumar Ray’s stories. They were as much fun as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Now kids could watch them in animation with sub-titles - but I guess it is not the same thing as reading a book and imagining things by oneself.
Kris said he was getting bored.
“Why don’t you do some painting…” I suggested to Kris. He gladly picked up the paint brush. We were now seated on our deck overlooking the creek and Kris started painting the view of the woods.
As I sat sipping some Darjeeling tea, I thought to myself - What if such a strange looking duck with a tail like a porcupine did exist somewhere?
Maybe we just haven’t seen it yet. Maybe.
A quick look at some ornithological websites revealed that there were forty-six recorded species of ducks, geese and swans in the state of New Jersey alone.
They all seem to share some common characteristics. Feathers that can shed water easily. Webbed feet for both water and land. Beaks of varying colors ranging from bright red to solid black.
On the internet I found a species that was called the “wood duck” and I was amazed by how colorful it was and how it mimicked its surrounding colors for a camouflage. Even a very creative person would find it difficult to imagine its combination of colors. The “long-tailed duck” is the only one I could find that came closest to having a tail that looks like the quill of a porcupine.
Well, it seems Sukumar Ray’s creativity was certainly out of this world!
And who would have imagined there are so many species of ducks and waterfowl?
There is of course Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. But apparently he has many critics. And not just religious groups. Many scientists think there is little evidence of how a new species emerges.
I glanced at what Kris had painted. It looked a lot like a “wood duck” sitting on the banks of the creek. I was quite puzzled. How did Kris know about this species of ducks?
Was this his active imagination? How could this be a co-incidence that I was just now looking at a picture of one on the internet?
I showed Kris’ painting to all and they were equally amazed.
“Kris – where did you see this duck?” I asked him.
‘I have seen one earlier” he replied nonchalantly.
“But where?” I persisted.
“A long time ago – when I was a lot bigger! I used to study in a high school called Rock and next to that was a Sidebrook park where I saw this duck” he replied confidently.
“Kris – how could you have been in high school in the past, you are only eight years old!” we exclaimed in unison.
“Yes I know – but last time I drowned in a lake and died. I saw this duck just before I drowned” he said without a trace of emotion.
The room was quiet. We could not fathom what was happening. Kris was an eight year old after all. He could well be imagining things.
Several days after Kris and his parents had left, while searching news that was eight years old, I found a news clip that reported that a high school student had drowned while swimming in a lake near Roxbury High School next to Brookside Park.