November 1, 2014


Mr. Kersie Khambatta is a semi-retired lawyer practising in New Zealand. He is also a part-time writer of articles and short-stories. His writing is recognizable by his simple style, with short sentences and carefully-chosen words. He has a diploma of Associateship of the British Tutorial Institute, London, in English, Modern Journalism, and Journalism in India, and a Certificate in Comprehensive writing awarded in October 2005 by the Writing School (Australia and New Zealand). His pieces have appeared in Senior Living (B.C., Canada), Her Magazine (New Zealand), The Rusty Nail magazine (U.S.A.), and many other publications.

The hunter peered through the dense bush. The hot sun was way up in the sky. The herd of wild deer was grazing peacefully. The large stag with the formidable antlers snorted, and looked around suspiciously. He was the sentry for the rest of them, and also their leader. His dominance was not questioned, for might was right. He had driven away the other males who had been daring enough to challenge him.

The gentle breeze blew towards the hunter, and so did not betray his presence. He looked through the sights of his powerful rifle, and focused on the ones nearest him. He pulled the trigger, and a deer leaped up in alarm, but fell down to the ground. The others bounded away, and disappeared out of sight.
The hunter smiled to himself. He loved venison, and this was free. He had a hunting permit, and so was well within his right to hunt the wild deer. He had been hunting for years. He stretched his arms and legs, and got out of the bush into the open where the herd had been grazing. When he walked to the slain deer, he heard a tiny, anguished sound, and stopped in his tracks. It was a fawn! He had not expected this! He had killed its mother! He had not seen the fawn behind the mother, when he trained the sights of the rifle on the herd of deer.
He was filled with remorse. He picked up the little, helpless creature gently, and wondered what to do with it. He felt very sad. Hunting deer for meat was one thing, but killing the mother of a fawn, and leaving it all alone in the world, was another. His mind was in a turmoil.
“Why…. oh, why…. did I do such a cruel thing? What shall I do now?” he moaned.
He had to take it with him. There was no alternative.
Large, frightened eyes looked up at him, as he held it in his strong hands like a baby, and stroked it gently. He had to take it with him. He could not leave it there. That would be cruel and callous. He had children. He knew what it was to be a parent.
He dragged the dead deer, with one hand, and held the baby deer in the other. He then put them in his mud-splattered S.U.V. and drove home.
Alisha was five years old. Bob was seven. The family lived in a pastoral village in the North Island of New Zealand.
“Oh….how sweet! She’s so cute!” said Alisha, “Can I hold her, dad?”
“Yes. Here, take him. But be careful. He’s very delicate.”
“Oh, so it’s a boy, is it? Let’s call him………um…….um…….Bambino!!”
“That doesn’t sound right,….but okay……as you like,…….Bambino, it is. Now, the poor thing must be very hungry. Tell mum to warm up some diluted milk.”
“Okay, dad, ” said Alisha, as she skipped away, shouting at the top of her voice, “Mum, mum we have a baby deer. His name’s Bambino”.
Their short, squat, white-and-black Fox Terrier dog called Foxie ran round them in excitement, and tried to nose Bambino. They had to keep Bambino out of his reach, in case he tried to attack him.
Bambino refused to drink the milk. He was shivering. They wrapped him in a warm cloth, and Alisha kept him cuddled in her lap, and stroked him till he fell asleep.
A couple of hours later, he got up crying.
“He must be hungry definitely,” said dad. “We’ll try again”.
They tried several times, but each time, Bambino turned his face away.
“I’ll get an eye-dropper”, said mum. “That might work”
Alisha nudged the dropper into the baby’s mouth, and finally Bambino did take a few sips.
“Hoorah!” yelled Bob. He ran to get his friends to see the baby deer.
Neighbours came, and offered suggestions on how to bring him up. The baby deer became popular in the village. The children wanted to feed him, and each got a chance, while Alisha and Bob kept careful watch, and Foxie eyed everyone intently.
Bambino thrived with the loving care lavished on him, and became taller and stronger. Wee antlers peeped out from his skin, and in a year’s time, he became a full-grown stag. He had enormous antlers now, and weighed nearly a hundred kilos.
They kept him as a pet, in a paddock, all by himself, and he looked at the world proudly, with his head held high. He walked around like a peacock with its tail spread in splendor.
The children were now not allowed to go near him, as he was big and strong, and could hurt them. But dad went into the paddock each morning to wrestle with him. He caught Bambino’s huge antlers, and pushed him back in play as he thrust his head forward. And Foxie ran around them, barking at Bambino.
One fine morning, as usual, dad went into the paddock to entertain Bambino, while the children were at school. The stag was sitting on the ground, munching the grass contentedly. Dad approached him,  caught his antlers, and pulled at them to try and get him to stand. All of a sudden, Bambino jumped up, shook his head violently, slipped out of dad’s grip, reversed a few steps, and rammed his antlers into dad’s groin area. He nearly collapsed with the pain, but managed to hold on to the antlers, and tried to keep the stag away. He screamed for help, but there was no one there except Foxie.
Brave, little Foxie sprang to the rescue, barking furiously, and nipped at the stag’s legs, trying  to draw the stag’s attention away from his master.  Bambino turned his massive head towards the barking dog, and charged him, thereby leaving dad to back off fast, and retreat out of the paddock, bleeding profusely. He knew that he was badly mauled, and had to get help while still conscious. He tried to stop the bleeding, but could not. He struggled into the farm vehicle parked nearby, and drove in agony to the house.
His wife called an ambulance, and tried to stem the blood which was gushing out like a small stream. There were no ambulances in that village, and the nearest one was about fifty kilometers away. So a rescue helicopter was sent, and he was airlifted to the nearest big town with a hospital equipped to take accident cases.
He remained in hospital for about a fortnight, and underwent two operations.
When he came back home, and was able to hobble on crutches, he had the wooden, paddock fence barred at the top, to prevent Bambino from hurting anyone. He never ventured inside again.  
Foxie became a national hero, and primetime TV came for an interview. The camera crew caught Foxie running in and out of the paddock (from the space left open at the bottom of the fence), with the monster stag in full pursuit. Foxie knew how to keep just out of reach of the deadly antlers.
Children watching the programme cheered Foxie, and said:- “Go Foxie, go…….he will kill you”.
But Foxie turned his head to mock Bambino, seeming to say: - “Catch me if you can”.
Bambino never did!

~KERSIE KHAMBATTA                                        

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