When the family was in the village near the ‘bendang’ (rice field) the ‘wak-wak’ was a common sight for Munir among other species of birds that depended on the natural surroundings for their feed. The children and the grownups used to trap and brought the various species home as additional delicacies to their staple diets.
That was long ago and Munir has gone to the military college and through the years has gone up in rank and now holding the top post staying at a fully fenced and well guarded luscious residence in peaceful surroundings of an exclusive areas of town in the eastern state.
His wife Marina kept the house in order and disciplined their two secondary going daughters Ana and Ani like the school mum she was before she opted for retirement to assist Munir in the welfare of the wives of the officers and soldiers under him.
There was plenty of time to be filled in such surroundings and conditions. A troop of soldiers took turn in guarding the top brass residence and they have their bunks to return to when they were off duty. Most of them were from the villages and they were so acclimatised to the surroundings, picking up the shoots, leaves and even trappings wild birds. Their favourite birds were the “wak-wak” which seems to be in their natural surrounding around the area.
They have a cage as a holding area for the birds they have caught and would sacrifice them on reaching sufficient numbers. Being children the two sisters would spend endless hours watching and teasing the junky birds. The mum and the soldiers were happy to see them at peace and not creating mischief.
In the old days in the village there were myths on the little wak-wak bird that has no tail. It was common belief that they were under control of bigger power which would command the wak-wak to the path of righteousness. In the Philippines it was believed there were giant wak-waks that could maim cruel and ruthless human. The myth spread far to the nearby lands of similar culture.
On a Saturday morning the girls were near the cage admiring the large number of the birds inside but were taken aback when a trickle of the same bird keep coming from elsewhere and surround the cage.
The girls began to get frighten and withdrew themselves calling their mother, “Mama so many birds coming from outside”.
Being brought up in the city she didn’t figure the significant of the event and asked the guards to shoo them away. The guard did what they were told but to no avail. More wak-waks kept coming, making plenty of squeaky noise and look quite intent to be near their kind in the cage.
The girls got frighten and was led to their room by the maids.
Not knowing what to do under the circumstances Marina decided to make an emergency call to Munir and informed him of the situation. Being the main in his position, Munir coolly told his wife to be calm and asked for the leader of the guard.
While waiting for the chief of the soldier to be on the line, Munir remember of similar tales he heard in his village when he was a small boy. He made his decision like the general he was.
He needed no explanation from the corporal and just ordered him to open the cage and release all the birds.
The order was followed to the letter. All the birds were released and as mimicking the soldiers they just march in orderly manner by the hundreds into the underbrush and disappeared from sight.
There was complete silence at the scene.
Immediately the cage just disappeared from sight as ordered by the general. There was no more activity of trappings the wak-waks. Victory was theirs.