Wednesday, 23 October 2013

'Hare-ly" encounters

COME to think of it, my dad was an animal lover. Besides birds, he kept some hares in a wooden hatch in the garden. We were very small then, and he told us not to go near the hatch and most of all, not to put our hands into the hatch or we might get bitten.

Only my eldest brother was allowed to go near the hatch as it was his job to feed them. I remember vaguely that it was some scraps and vegetables on a metal plate which my brother pushed through the hatch door every evening. The door would then be latched back firmly and with much alacrity. I would watch this from a safe distance, in the darkness.

We often wondered why dad kept such fierce pets. How the hares came to be owned by us was a mystery. Since I wasn't allow to go near those wild things, I never really knew them. I think they gradually died from old age or sickness and dad decided to replace the hares with rabbits. We went to "Bird Street" again (which specialised in birds but also sold rabbits) -- sometimes to buy a white bunny with red eyes which the shopkeeper would put into a paper bag for us to bring home. And sometimes it would be a tiny brown bunny. We preferred bunnies as they were cuter than adults. But they were very fragile and had very short lifespan.

Dad thought it might be the damp from the soil in the garden, or could it be too many carrots in their diet? In the end, we gave up. No more rabbits.

I did try another time to keep a rabbit as pet. When I was a librarian with the Marine Parade Branch Library, there was a pet shop nearby and I decided to take home a brown bunny. Strangely enough, it grew quite wild in appearance -- and in behaviour. It would growl at me when I tried to stroke it. I thought it was because he didn't like being caged up. So he was given free roam of the house. My friend came one day and it ran under the bed. When he tried to attract it by drumming his finger against the bed's frame, the wild thing snapped his finger.

At my wits end, I took it to SPCA. "I think it is a hare, quite wild," I told SPCA. They were nice about it and accepted it along with my token of some money.

After note:
Two papaya trees were planted on the spot in the garden where the rabbit hatch once stood. They bore fruits frequently. My mum's explanation was that the hare's dung acted as good fertilizers.

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