A Frightening Experience
It was the first day of my long awaited vacation and my family and I were in a North Indian hill station. Early in the morning I went out for a walk. The rising sun splashed pink on its crown, highlighting the busy valleys that carve dark curving lines along the mountain’s broad flanks. I reveled in the feeling of peaceful solitude as I walked through the sleeping streets.
I had just rounded a corner when a rustling noise made me glance up. A giant black form seemed to rear in front of me, blocking my path. I stood for a moment, confused, then suddenly realised what I was looking at. Ten paces away stood a two metre high, perhaps weighing hundred and twenty kilos, a male ostrich, staring at me and blinking.
The huge black and white Bird began to move towards me, lifting its feet in a purposeful gait. I watched mesmerized as its long snake-like neck followed the rhythm of its body, its stubby beak prodding the air with its head cocked, first to one side, then the other. Confused, I stood staring into the eyes of an aggressive bird. It paused in its advance, one leg poised.
Then it made a sharp hissing noise and ruffled its plumage, seeming to grow even bigger. I glanced around. There were no trees or boulders nearby for protection. I knew that I was at least three kilometres from the reserve fence. I realised that whatever else I do, I must not run as that would provoke a chase.
Hoping that the bird might be put off if I went on the offensive, I picked up a stone and flung it, but it clattered harmlessly onto the road. The bird lifted its head, stiffly erect and charged, its giant claws slashing arcs one and a half metres from the ground.
I half turned to run when its foot smashed into my left shoulder, sending my head over heels. Hitting the ground with a thud, I lay wounded for several seconds. My mouth opened in a silent scream. Lying on my stomach, I tried to block out the pain spreading over my chest and shoulder.
I could hear the ostrich whistling angrily as it was preparing to come back for a second attack. I turned my head just in time to see its huge feet running savagely towards me. Whump! The full weight of the bird landed on my back, grinding me into the cobbled street.
Never had I felt so helpless. Just metres away, I could hear the ostrich hissing and ruffling its feathers. For a long time I desperately tried to play dead, but could not ignore the pain on my grazed shoulder. Unable to take it anymore, I quickly shifted to my right side, but the movement was all that the bird needed.
I just had time to bring my left arm to protect my face before a giant foot scraped across my body. I cried out in ghastly agony. Vowing not to move again, I lay still for so long that my body started to ache. I had been told that if one lies still for a few minutes, an attacking ostrich will lose interest and go away.
But as the bird strutted past me I thought it had no intention of leaving and sparing me and in terror I thought that it would but surely kill me. Then everything became black and I passed out. I woke up in a hospital.
I was informed that the local people had arrived and saved me from the raging bird. The experience was so horrifying that in fright, agony, pain and sorrow, I forgot to even thank my saviors.