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A Dog’s Life

Photo courtesy: Suroshri Chatterjee

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An Ugly Pigeonling

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On 23 April 2017, a Sunday, while I was unhurriedly putting washed clothes on the railing of our balcony to dry, a teenage boy shouted from the balcony opposite to ours, “Aunty, look! A pigeon is stuck in the window behind you. Please open it or else he will die!

Alarmed, I turned around to see. Yes, he was right. A pigeon was there indeed. But he was not stuck as the window was half open. We keep it that way all the time to let fresh air circulate. That’s how it must have entered there in the first place, I thought.

On looking closely, I observed that it was huddled in a corner. It was probably very sick and unable to fly. That could be the reason why it chose to hide behind the window to prevent itself from being easy prey to the fat cats jumping around.

I turned around again and shouted to the young boy watching me.

“No, the pigeon is not stuck inside the window, Beta. He is actually leaning against it. He is not well, it seems, and if I open the window, it might fall on the ground. So I am letting it stay the way it is.”

From the expression on the boy’s face, I could see that he was as puzzled as I was. But he nodded and remained silent.

When all my clothes were spread out outside, I picked up the empty bucket and went back inside. I now had new worrisome thoughts nibbling away at the back of my mind…If the pigeon doesn’t eat or drink anything today, it might die… Last year too, there was a similar tragedy in my home… A pigeon’s nest had fallen down from behind a big framed photograph on the wall and an egg had fallen out of it. A cat had broken the egg and in its attempt to lick the yolk, it had spattered it all over the staircase…

I suddenly heard a loud flapping of wings. It must be the pigeon, I thought, trying to fly away. My daughter Nanni and I ran outside to see. No, it was not gone yet. It had merely changed its position. It was now on the other side of the window, huddled same way as before, shrinking in fear.

I exclaimed, “Maybe it is old and about to die.”

Nanni said, “No, it is, I think, a small baby. I saw him yesterday. He was much smaller. He looks bigger today.”

“His parents probably disowned him because of his ugly looks and odd behavior. His brothers and sisters have all flown away while he, a poor guy, is still hovering around, still not able to enter adulthood and independence. If he doesn’t want to be gobbled up, he has to take some initiative.”

And then it occurred to me that he, (like Nanni, I also assumed that he must be male), must be very thirsty and hungry. I brought a cup of water and let the water touch its beak. He remained unmoved and didn’t seem to want anything. Well, he really must be very, very sick, I told myself with a fast beating heart, and I wondered if history was going to repeat itself this year…Perhaps I should consult some veterinary doctor about him, I thought.

Feeling helpless, I returned inside to focus on other pending tasks awaiting my attention.

A few minutes later, I heard the same flapping sound again. I rushed out to see what was happening. This time, to my great joy, the pigeon was sitting on the edge of the balcony, poised to fly!

I picked up the cup of water and placed it close to it, just in case it felt like having a sip or two before taking off.

A second later, he was gone, the cup of water untouched, while the potted plants looked on as passive spectators…

Best of luck, Bholuram, my dear Pigeonling! I hope that you turn into the most handsome pigeon in the whole universe very soon…

Here are some more pics…

Pic 1: This was how he looked when I saw him for the first time in my life…

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Pic 2: Getting ready to take off…

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Pic 3: Going, going, going…

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Pic 4: Gone!…

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Note for the reader: The blisters on the pigeon’s beak and feet are probably due to a viral infection that is contagious. To stop it spreading to other birds, the affected bird has to be quarantined. But this is not possible for free birds. This infection, however, is not fatal and birds generally recover from this on their own. I got these facts after I did a Google search. I would love to read your comments on this post.

 

Jangal Me Mor Nacha…(A Peacock Danced in the Jungle)

In 1969, a Bollywood film ‘Shatranj’ with Waheeda Rahman as the heroine was released. It went on to become a hit film. It had a dance sequence performed by Waheeda Rahman based on the song ‘Jangal me mor nacha kisne dekha.’ Literally, this line means “A peacock danced in the jungle; who has seen it?” When you see this video on Youtube, you would find yourself mesmerized by the beauty, grace, and elegance of Waheeda Rahman dancing exactly like a peacock in gay abandon…

That was 1969. In 2015, one can spot peahens and peacocks very easily in Vikaspuri, New Delhi, living out their lives in public just like other common birds, pigeons, bulbuls, and mynahs, and this includes singing and dancing in the rain as well!

Before you jump to conclusions, let me clarify that Vikaspuri is not a forest area. It is, in fact, just any other residential colony of Delhi with independent houses and apartments. But yes, it has been very lucky, ecologically speaking, and now it has a couple of tall trees and a few green parks developed by the government. These trees now provide homes to the various birds we manage to see everyday hopping around on our terraces, balconies, and verandahs.

The sight of these gorgeous birds walking on the roofs on their tiptoes, balancing themselves and stopping themselves from tripping, just like ballerinas, fills me with a strange kind of thrill. It gives me butterflies in my stomach. But this feeling soon gives way to one of sadness, dejection, and humiliation.

A peacock is, after all, our national bird and deserves a certain amount of dignity. It really shouldn’t be seen traipsing around on terraces of city dwellers, drinking water from their overhead tanks, and eating bajra and corn seeds doled out by kind-hearted people.

The forests are all gone and these birds have nowhere to go. They struggle like refugees for survival, just like everybody else….

See the pics below and you will understand what I mean…

Poised like a ballerina…

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Feeling thirsty…

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Now it’s the ladies’ turn…

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Beating a retreat…

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See how she flies…

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Here is a video of a peahen in motion…Just click on the link below.

Dancing peacock with a peahen as audience (a bit disinterested…)

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Here is a video of a dancing peacock. It was made today, 16 May 2015.