It’s 6 PM, and the scene on the highway unfolds underneath an orange sky, peppered with hues of blue and red, while on the ground, its green paddy bristling in the cool evening breeze. In the distance, on a patch of freshly tilled soil, there is a muddy tractor resting and on the banks of the canal are farmers having a good wash. On the other side, another son of the soil is brushing the oxen, which unlike the tractor, do not stand still.
Soon, all congregate at the tea shop, that essential drink which nourishes souls, even to those who have ploughed across the highway, and have to give their tired steeds and joints a rest. Just as the conversation veers towards high prices and the day’s troubles, our eyes fall on a sea of bobbing heads on the road, with a couple of men standing sentry on the sides and at the back, warning oncoming traffic of the walkathon headed their way.
From the looks of it, it wasn’t necessary. Drivers slowed down to gawk and riders took out their cameras to film. Mothers picked up their children and pointed towards this flat avalanche, while the couples posed for selfies and begged each other for that perfect instagram shot.
Given the sight of hundreds of ducks stomping on their webbed feet on a highway, it was a sight to behold. Oddly, they formed a triangle, with one leading the whole army behind. None of them broke rank nor rebelled. A mother duck ensured her brood kept pace with her and didn’t lag behind, watching out for dangers on the side and above too. One could say they were all part of a religious cult, with utmost dedication to maintain order.
They never objected to the hundreds of pictures and flashes, nor were the brood disturbed by the honking and various sounds made to distract them. They were used to idiots on the road, and for them, we were a circus act. To them, what mattered was making it back home, without, pun intended, a quack or a squawk.
So, there it was, when the entire troop made its way through a path along the fields, away from the highway. Tomorrow, there would be more marches into the paddy fields, lakes and canals. For now, the sight of them walking away into the same mysterious point where the sun sets, merging with the scenery, with little footprints left behind in the mud; brief moments where we forgot what we had been through and what lay ahead, just admired the beauty of last march of the quackers.