My walks in the Tobacco Company garden.....3

In the mornings as soon as the sun's rays fall on the lake, you can see turtles balancing and sunning themselves on pipes which are seen on the surface of the lake. The turtles stay on top of the pipe unmindful of the people walking along the path. But, it was different once when I stopped to admire them. They immediately slid into the water. Their instinct for self preservation triggered as soon they saw me stop and stare. I had no way of conveying to them that I meant no harm! My profile as a predator was clearly built into their very nature.

The next day, I could see the same instinct in action when a very cute little turtle crossed my path. I stopped to admire this little fellow. Its immediate response was to stop moving and withdraw its head and limbs into the shell. Its innocence was endearing as it was now very easy to just pick it up. I walked on with a smile. My own stupidity became apparent the next day when I saw a small turtle shell lying a little away from the point where I saw the little fellow. I cannot say whether it was the same turtle or a different one. But I wished I had picked up the one I had seen and had put him back into the water. He would have been safe at least for that day!

But the strangest of the sights one day was a small and thin teenaged girl near the water, warily opening a large bag and while two smaller girls watched with the most curious expressions on their faces, a mixture of fear and disgust! It soon became apparent why, as out came tumbling some two dozens of medium sized rats and in no time scattered to safety. It was a scene I will not forget easily, great for a picture especially after they let the rats out. The relief on their faces was palpable. It took me a while to get out of my own reactions of shock and disgust! I cannot say what motivated these girls to take so much trouble to bring the rats to the park and let them free. I know it is a Thai tradition to release caged birds into the air and fish into to the water to make merit on auspicious days. But I had never seen rats being released thus.

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