The first indication that something was wrong was when Makoni screamed, "Ricky is dead!" This was followed by loud sobs and hysteria. Apparently, the bundle of clothes in her arms was the now deceased rabbit, Ricky. Soon, all the children in the joint family started sobbing – eight children expanding their vocal ranges did not exactly contribute to my idea of a 'soothing environment' for studies.
Ricky was adopted by our family when I left for Guwahati after my matriculation exams. Therefore, I would only see him during the holidays. The rabbit had no sense of privacy; he would barge into my room in the middle of the night, do his business on my sheets, and would sometimes even spoil my books.
The morning went by, with me consoling my cousins. They wanted a proper funeral for Ricky. "These children," my mother said, "want to bury the rabbit in the backyard. You accompany them, Majoni." I groaned, but nodded.
The burial was almost done, when Rezia suddenly cried out, "But, we don't know if Ricky was a Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. What if we chose the wrong way of sending him off?" I decided to observe them from a distance. Makoni and Beauty came over to me and said, "Ba, please tell us if what we did was right."
It looked the same; but, on top of the grave now stood a cross made of twigs. Another addition was a delicately carved Om.
One of the most enlightening experiences of my life was taking home a group of heartbroken children from their rabbit's funeral, with the azan sounding in the background.