On our way back from a field trip to Morigaon district, we made a small stop at the Morigaon haat where my colleague bought a "Pati haan" or Haans as in Bengali, duck in English. It was just before Bihu and he thought he'd get a good price here compared to Guwahati. He was back in 10 minutes, a duck in a white bag which he tied securely and put on the floor next to the driver.
The bag moved as the duck squirmed inside, giving me anxious moments. What if it got out of the bag, flapping its wings and obscuring the driver's vision and pecking furiously and all of us - car and duck in the ditch?
That did not happen. The duck soon settled down, resigned to its fate and was quite silent through our long drive back to guwahati, tea break at chandrapur, visit to Guwahati university and coffee break. When my colleague got dropped off at his home, with the duck, I almost felt a kinship with it, feeling guilty about my erst-while drooling over visions of roast duck.
Two days later, my last day in Guwahati, we went to Bezera in Kamrup district for a field trip. This took better part of the day. We stopped at "Kake da Dhaba" run by locals but the Kaka at the till for a very late lunch! My colleague took out a tiffin box carrier the duck curry he had made. We ate heartily. Only the driver was reluctant. Why, I asked? Because old ailments resurface if you take duck meat.
Really?? Old wives tales, I thought, mentally. I paid scant attention, busy as I was stuffing myself and wondering if I'd make the flight (all kinshop forgotten).
Back in Kolkata, I was feverish. Next day I could not goto office. I suffered from the most agonizing pain in my jaws thanks to which I was on a liquid diet for nearly a week. Severe Upper respiratory tract infection. I thought I had won the last bout of respiratory infections, in November. The Duck's revenge was complete.
There I was jaws aching, nose, throat sore, constant coughing and head spinning from the barrage of useless information on what I should have done and worn back in Assam so that I would have been right as rain, now and not severely ill.
I was too weak to protest - It was not the incorrect clothing or the dust or even the cold. It was the Duck.