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THE WINGED VISITORS WHO MADE ME CRAVE FOR MORE
Sparrows, crows, pigeons, lapwings and cuckoos have always graced the trees of my house with their presence since my childhood, with some of the ‘friendly’ culvers occasionally resting on my shoulders or head before resuming their flight, thanks to the abundant cover of more than one hundred trees planted in our garden by my maternal grandfather during his lifetime.
The visit of these and other winged day-trippers has increased manifold in my garden ever since I went for a two-fold proliferation of my late grandfather’s green legacy, bringing the tally of my leafy friends to more than two hundred.
Now, besides the usual sparrows, pigeons and other birds, the mini-forest that has now come up at what used to be my beloved grandpa’s beautiful garden, is the favorite haunt of rare, migratory birds too, who keep surprising me with their presence, especially during the spring season.
The most recent visit was by a horde of ‘love birds’ that decided to make a brief halt at my garden to feast on the mulberries growing there. I spotted them early one Sunday morning as I stepped out to pick up the day’s newspaper and inhale the fresh air of the springtime. Their sudden descent at the well-laden mulberry tree just a few steps away left me immensely surprised and thrilled.
They departed as quickly as they came and just as I was thinking of calling my son to come out with his camera to capture the beautiful moment, they were gone, leaving behind a fond memory of their visit. Their brief stopover in my garden reminded me of yet another unexpected visitor, who lured a raucous band of two-legged uninvited, predatory ones into my domain a couple of years ago.
The monsoons had just set in, and I had taken a day off from work to attend to some urgent personal business. An immense gust of wind that had blown in dark clouds also left behind some unexpected residue that was now perching on one of the one hundred chinaberry trees planted by me. It was a majestic peacock! Not only was it’s long, blue and green train of feathers beautiful beyond description, but also a dead give-away that attracted my neighbours and wayfarers into my patch.
I could easily overhear whispers of catching it and taking it home. Where had this one come from, remains a mystery till this day, considering the fact that there is no jungle around for miles and peacocks cannot fly long distances. Unaware of the dangers that lay ahead, it sprang to the ground and preened its plume, spreading all its feathers in its usual fan-like fashion, giving us all a chance to savor its natural beauty.
The human intruders started encircling the endangered bird throwing my son’s and mine plans of capturing it in a camera to the winds. I asked them to leave and leave the bird alone, but the beauty in front of their eyes made them ignore my request. I decided to call the cops as it was my house and the bird was my guest. Nobody had the right to hurt it as long as it was with me. That’s exactly what I did.
However, providence had another plans and ahead of the arrival of the police, another massive gust of wind blew it away just as it was about to be caught. Where did it land this time too remains as much of a mystery as the place from where it had come, but the experience left my son and me with pleasant memories of a lovely being that invoked in me a love for nature and the desire to receive and entertain more visitors of its kind.