By the time I was going to college (Chowgule’s, Margão), I was named the sole custodian of my uncle’s BSA Airgun whilst he was away (Dubai). The agreement was that it had to be well maintained until he came back on holiday, after 11 months of service. I loved the feel of the gun, beautifully crafted wooden cheekplate, stock and buttplate. The muzzel and barrel could be bent with a little effort to load the spring. I even had a scope that i used whenever there was foliage hiding the egrets.

My favourite spot to go hunting was the ‘Raitollem’ (Raia Lake). Here, i would go to the far side of the road as it was quieter and the egrets would be bunched up closer to the bank. The issue with shooting birds inside the water was the collection. Once you got one, wading through the lotus roots was very dangerous. If you lost your balance and fell into the water, the feet could get easily entangled in the roots and stems of the plant and getting free from those would need a special technique. Many have panicked and have lost their lives in ponds and lakes of Goa, when they have tried to pluck a lotus or retrieve their football.

My parents had another concern about me going to the lake. Apparently, there is a huge ancient stone (or the like) where ‘ a spirit God’ is worshipped by the locals from surrounding villages. I was forbidden to go anywhere near the place as it was believed, demons could torment a good, mass-going catholic like me! ((Hmmmmmm ….)

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