In Kite Nation

Caroline Fynn

© Copyright 2022 by Caroline Fynn

Photo of Yogi.
Photo of Yogi.
I watched part of a documentary on reincarnation while sitting in a waiting room in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I followed the English subtitles and noticed how the subject was not presented as a possibility, but as a given, portrayed as fact. Until the year 2016, I had lived for three years in the south of the teardrop island. In this magical land, devotees to Buddhism hold an unshakeable faith in reincarnation. I loved these people and respected their beliefs and culture. Nevertheless, I thought the notion of rebirth to be unrealistic. I paid no attention. Much the same as I would ignore moon worship or an argument in favor of a flat Earth.   
Fast forward to the present day and I think about reincarnation. A little more than three months ago, my dog died. I rescued him from a concentration camp for dogs when he was eleven years old. For five years he had occupied little space among two thousand other dogs in a Polish Ďshelter.í He had endured starvation, and physical abuse, and had no protection from the harsh and bitter winters, or from the relentless heat of summer. How he survived for so long I will never know. He was in appalling physical and emotional condition when he arrived in England to live his twilight years with me in the Oxfordshire countryside.    
This little dog, with his wild and woolly coat, resembled a teddy bear, so I named him Yogi. With patience and understanding, good food, regular exercise, and love from me and his newfound doggy friends, he recovered sooner than expected. Yogi became a healthy and happy old boy.     
Grief has now risen its inevitable head and consumed me. I wonder how the world continues without Yogi. Itís inconceivable that he no longer exists. Spring has arrived. Cherry blossoms are in bloom, rape fields have come to life, daffodils lift their trumpets towards the sun, and Yogi isnít here.     
For all my life, as far back as I can remember, it has been important to me to face the truth, no matter how dark, or how twisted it may be. Yes, I know he is never coming back. He has gone forever, and this is something we all face when we lose a loved one. But energy doesnít die, it transforms. Scientists have proved that energy of any kind doesnít simply disappear. I guess the energy within a living being is what we have come to know as the life force. It could merge with the wind or the rain. Perhaps the life force turns into bacteria. But when I recall our encounter with a Red Kite, I wonder if the people of Sri Lanka might be correct in their loyalty to reincarnation.      
A couple of years back, during late spring, or maybe early summer, Yogi and I were out walking along what is known locally as Ďconcrete track.í A pathway leading through fields and woodland. It enables us to walk from our village to the next. Apart from a few horses, and sometimes a flock of sheep, 'concrete track' is usually isolated. Rarely did we encounter people. We would mooch around and silently share our solitude.     
Yogi trotted along and did his important doggy things, like sniffing. At peace, I mused about how lucky we were to live in such a calm and beautiful part of the world. I relished the sun on my face, coupled with a cool breeze. Absorbed in the present and in a meditative state of mind I turned to check on Yogi.
He happily bobbed along and seemed to be oblivious to the Red Kite hovering at about a meter directly above him. I had never seen a Red Kite so close to a dog. I knew she wouldnít be able to take him. At fourteen kilos Yogi was way too hefty for her. I thought of the Kite in the feminine because she was big. The larger of the species are usually female.
A Kite so close to a dog is remarkable but I didnít like it. I imagined horrendous injuries should she dig her talons into Yogiís back. I looked at her hooked beak, sharp enough to tear boot leather, and anxiety settled like a stone in my belly. I felt she could at any second impale her beak into Yogiís head.  
Photo by Andreas Weilguny on Unsplash.
Photo by Andreas Weilguny on Unsplash.
In no way could I stand by and risk an attack on Yogi, yet I had no idea of how to manage a bird of prey. I needed to intervene but didnít have time to stop and figure it out. So as not to startle the bird I moved forward at a steady pace. The Kite flew away from Yogi. I expected her to take off and disappear towards the horizon. She didnít. Instead, she moved beside me. My anxiety disappeared and a sensation of tranquility took over. Gut instinct told me she meant no harm. She swung along, her silver head leading the way. She occasionally soared up and swooped down but mostly glided back and forth alongside me. It seemed she just wanted to be with us for a while.    
After a few minutes, she flew away, out of sight to distant skies, on to her next adventure. I blew her a kiss and whispered goodbye.   
The proximity and presence of this wild animal was a breath-taking experience, pure bliss, an honor. Especially because it was her choice.      
As the seasons have passed, I have not often thought about the Kite. Only since Yogiís death I have reminisced on our encounter and pondered the reason for it.  Kites do sometimes follow humans. Usually trailing food scraps, but I had none. I contemplated her intention when she lingered over Yogi. Kites will dive into a farmerís harvest looking for prey, and yes, Yogiís coat was dense but surely, she could not have thought rodents would hide in there. She might have expected to at least pick up a few worms. But it doesnít explain why she stayed with us for so long.     
The Kite could have been curious, and maybe she fancied some company for a while. Perhaps she fell in love with Yogi, and itís this concept that has led me to ask if it could have been something profound. Maybe she was once, in another lifetime, a person or an animal, who had known Yogi. Could she feasibly have been a poor wretched soul who didnít make it out of the Polish shelter? Was she someone either of us might have met in a previous existence? I will never know. But these days, unlike my black and white mentality during those Sri Lankan years, I consider reincarnation to be a possibility.     

Caroline Fynn has worked in animal rescue in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. She is an ardent supporter of animal welfare and rights. Writing as a hobby for many years, Caroline took a course in creative writing with the Open University. She is the author of one novel which she hopes to soon publish. Caroline lives in the UK.   

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