By A Mirsab, TwoCircles.net
Latur: Having a pet at home is a normal habit, but what if a person and his entire family is so affectionate towards animals that even the house is designed according to the needs of the animals, not humans? Maheboob Ishaq Syed is one such person.
Maheboob, 50, is a man from Latur in Maharashtra who maintains such a house of 1,600 square feet where he lives with many different kinds of birds and animals along with his family. He has nearly 200 birds of many species at his home and he requires two tonnes of wheat and rice every month to feed them.
“We are fond of birds and animals. We love them very much and therefore we are into their service since last 30 years”, Maheboob told Twocircles.net with a smiling face.
In the house, an area of 600 square fit is kept specifically for birds and animals dwellings. He has erected plants and bushes there so that birds and animals can play and enjoy there. Feeder bottles, water vessels are hung all over the house so that birds can eat and drink from there.
Although Latur is presently going through a major drought, Maheboob stores enough water for birds and animals in four cement vessels outside his home.
A class seven dropout, Maheboob’s father took him to Kurdewadi, a town near Latur, for employment with central railways where he was an engine fitter and employed him as a labourer. He worked there for seven years and then returned back to Latur. After coming to Latur he bought an auto rickshaw and used to keep several birds and animals at home.
When asked if his family objected for him spending over birds and keeping them at home, he said, “Initially my father objected as I used to keep dog at home. He would say Islam does not allow dogs at home but I would tell him that it is also species created by Allah so what is wrong in taking care of it”.
His wife Maherunnisa too helps in maintaining such a house of birds and animals. As he used to buy grains, rice and vegetables to feed these species, he felt his earning was not enough to maintain this house. Therefore he bought a tempo and increased his earning.
Recalling the first encounter when he realised his love for animals, Maheboob says, “Once I found an injured dog in the way, I brought it to home and provided first aid and kept it at home for some days. He recuperated and from there I thought I can serve animals”.
In another similar instance, once people found a big egg and they were considering boiling it but Maheboob immediately recognized it to be of peacock. He requested them to hand it over to him so that he can hatch it.
“I hatched it with the help of hen at home and five peahens took birth. I brought them up for a year and then left in the jungle which was their real home”, Maheboob recalled.
Maheboob has three sons and a married daughter who is a software engineer. Now his sons have grown up and all have their own auto rickshaws to look after their livelihood.
Maheboob says his family always helped him in pursuing affection towards birds and never complained of dirt caused by birds and animals. “We are of the opinion that it is our responsibility to keep our home clean”, rejoiced Maheboob says.
As he was encountering hardships in bringing sufficient water for his house and for birds and animals, he dug a bore well two years ago which cost him around Rs 70,000 that he arranged for through a loan. Fortunately he still has water in his bore well despite of major draught in Latur. “I feel this water is there because of these birds and animals. I give water to neighbours too”, he says.
In all of this, an important part is that Maheboob does not take donations from any one for maintaining such a house and spends Rs 7,000 per month from his pocket over birds and animals. He also buys dry fruits for birds and his conscious family maintains the discipline that they do not eat from this share of birds.
His work has been recognized by many NGOs and government offices by issuing him appreciation letter. Presently he is a member of the district committee of Maharashtra state’s forest department for protection of species of birds and animals.
Many a times he has been felicitated at local and state level by district collector and commissioner of police.
Another fact worth mentioning is that there is no fan in Maheboob’s house because he fears any bird might be caught in its blade and gets injured. “For thirty years I am in to their service and we never had a fan at our home. Even my family never requested for installing fan because we all care of them”, Maheboob describes how his family cares birds.
Once my son wanted me to change the roof as it was made of cement tins and they wanted to build a slab but they left the idea when I got nervous. “I had told them that it was not our home but of birds and animals. And if they want to build their dream house then they should buy adjacent land and build their. My son understood my feelings and dropped the idea”, he explains.
Maheboob is so famous in the city that many people come to just watch his home. Many non-Muslims even wish to prostrate before him calling as a saint of God.
“I tell a person not to touch my feet as that honour is restricted only for almighty and by touching my feet you put me in a danger of being equated with God. I am only his servant who serves birds and animals with full heart”, Maheboob, a practicing Muslim who offers daily prayers says with a happy voice.
He says this act of him is liked by people irrespective of their religion and adds, “Even this work has helped in bridging the gap between different communities as they praise me for undertaking this work”.
Many a times he was told by visitors that he has proved the wrong notion developed against Muslim that they are cruel against animals. “I would tell them Islam also teaches to show sympathy and to treat birds and animals with love”.
On every Eid-ul-Fitr (an Eid after Ramadhan month) Maheboob arranges feast at his home and feeds nearly 500 people belonging to all communities.
Maheboob was not only appreciated for this distinguished work but many people even offered him monetary help for this work but he denied it as he believes, “One does not need such monetary help to continue such work but needs commitment and affection towards animals”.
“My answer to them helped in the creation of more such houses as some people have started to keep birds and animals at their homes and call me to get advice for proper maintenance ”, Maheboob adds.