Meeting 36-year-old Rezaul Kabir from Barisal one would hardly guess they were talking to the pigeon-man, as he is called by many. With no sign of feathers, wings or beak, Kabir looks as ordinary as anybody. On the other hand, that's assuming he's alone at the time, which he rarely is. Kabir's faithful companion, a pet pigeon he calls Muhin, likes to follow him everywhere.
While Kabir works shifts at a restaurant in Barisal City, Muhin often sits upon his shoulder. When Kabir rides a motorcycle at home beside the Kirtankhola River, Muhin flies alongside. As Kabir sleeps of a night, Muhin rests nearby.
Kabir has been raising and training pigeons since he was thirteen years old. He keeps over fifty pigeons of several varieties at his residence. “I spend all of my earnings on my pigeons,” Kabir says, “almost Tk 500 per day. I built a home for them on my rooftop. I give food and water. I've taught all of them to do some kind of acrobatics.”
Yet of all his pigeons, Muhin is undoubtedly the superstar. “About four years ago a female pigeon died, leaving behind two squabs,” says Kabir. “I was able to collect one of them. That was Muhin. Nowadays he's my best friend.”
Muhin likes to take food from Kabir's hand. Even when Kabir travels far from the city Muhin won't be left behind. Sometimes that has even involved a boat journey. Muhin is up for that too.
“My pigeons have demonstrated their acrobatic skills for many journalists and organisations,” Kabir recalls. “They were featured on the popular TV show Ittadi and even foreigners, including the former US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena, have sought me out to see a flying demonstration of my pigeons.”
“Pigeons symbolise peace and love,” Kabir says. “I love my birds very much. My aim is to establish a pigeon sanctuary where all different types of pigeons can be found.”