Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Day of the Children...

I belong to the generation that  was very much around when November 14, Children's Day was initiated. We were very much aware of the birthday of  Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, I had personally met him (a subject for a separate post :-)  ) ,  and in those days, we were much in awe of folks in high places , and rarely cynical à la today.

Children's Day was celebrated in our schools and in the city. There were no Malls then , and so the organized celebrations were very organic in nature and mostly in schools.

Today,  everyone in the family is an adult, and as such , one doesn't participate much in anything "children" , unless one is invited as a judge, which is a lot of fun.

And so it is with a great sense of learning that I relate this Children's Day episode.

We have recently moved from our Institutional premises ,  having retired after 43 years, to a much smaller flat nearby. In the interests of maximizing carpet area, the place has no balconies , but plenty of windows and is very airy.  There is a certain location of a particular window, which seems to have been created as an afterthought by the builder as it intersects with a larger window of an adjoining flat , orthogonal to ours.   As a result , the location is very well protected.

I have been potting various plants around the house, and recently added an insulin plant given by a friend, to the already thriving rose and mogra plants in that window.

Soon after that , a pigeon,  which must have been clearly diabetic, decided to settle down amidst the soil of the insulin plant. It also decided to chew away and separate a flowery structure that was blooming and producing roots on one side.

I was extremely upset, and there was an ongoing battle with the pigeon ,  which I subsequently lost, but I managed to extricate the insulin plant from that pot , and re-pot it elsewhere in a different window. 

Very clearly , the pigeon, was "expecting",  eggs were seen a few days later, and the pigeon would sit over them for days on end, in a state of what might be called "wings edema";  it would look hugely puffed up, enhanced in size, and sat occupying almost the entire surface area of the pot. No amount of shooing, making noises,   waving the newspaper, flinging water etc had any effect . She would deflect the water with the skill of a Sachin, swiping a tough ball to the ropes. She would duck, shake, move, blink, but she refused to vacate.

The family , very sympathetic to the diabetic pigeon and its mothering activities, decided to let her be, and whenever we checked , she would be sitting in edemic glory over the eggs .

Children's Day arrived with a crow.  This was discovered by the non stop cawing emanating from that window sill.  The crow would be sitting , like,  two feet away on the window grill,  cawing away at the mother pigeon, and she continue to hold fort, protecting the eggs .  Very clearly, he hankered after the eggs. And very much more  clearly, she wasn't going to give him a chance.

As the only person at home while the family goes out daily about their chores outside and at work, it has fallen upon me to interfere in the crow pigeon war.  The crow's beak, thrusting through the grill looks ominous. The crow can easily squeeze through, but is aware of space limitations and is probably avoiding bloody fights. I admire the other pigeon, who remains there , come what may, sitting defiantly over her eggs.

There are future children to be protected from the avaricious crows.

I decide to side with the mother pigeon.  I fold newspapers and wave them at the crow, who ducks a few times as if he is a batsman facing my bouncers.  A few bouncers later , he flies off , and continues to caw from a distance.

I am amazed at it all.  The unusual location of the window. How no pigeon ever bothered , till I placed the Insulin plant there. The tenacity of the mother pigeon protecting her yet-to-be-born.  Perhaps a bite of the insulin plant stem, reinitialized her body energy, needed for producing an offspring. The ability of the crow to spot this random window in a hugely spaced out set of buildings. The threatening overtures by the crow towards the pigeon.

And the defiant attitude of the mother pigeon,  as she sits protectively over the eggs,  in a extra puffed plumage which appears to breathe on its own.

Unlike what happens in a biped human world, she doesn't care whether her offspring is male or female. Gender discriminatory tactics haven't yet made it into the pigeon world. Yes, gundagiri is there.  Crows and possibly other birds, trying to intimidate her and making efforts to snatch the eggs.

And I am extra  angry shooing off the crow, whenever I hear him doing his threatening caw-caw.

I decide to side with her.

It is Children's Day.   The as-yet-unborn pigeon offspring deserve a chance at life.  I let her be, but am extra alert about the crows. 

After all, no child should be hurt, and every child , male of female, must have a chance at enjoying a decent, fruitful, flying life.