Those were the good old days when as children we would laugh loudly even at the silliest pretext. With the fast changing social structure, mainly perhaps due to the rise of nucleus families, the days of having hearty laughs became a thing of the past, sooner than later.
Till recently we used to have bouts of laughs, as a yogic exercise, at the neighbourhood laughter-club of morning walkers. Even those contrived laughs got locked down due to the scary Covid-19 spread.
Apart from that even my wife’s and my own routine morning walks got restricted to unexciting small trips between one and the other end of our flat’s 25 feet long small-balcony. In fact in these hard to pass claustrophobic days our most of the stay-home time is spent here in this balcony alone.
Thankfully our housing society is well surrounded by a thick cluster of trees, which provides us, apart from a fresh outdoor natural feel, a cool shelter to a variety of birds. This evoked in us a new interest in bird watching, a pleasantly engrossing pastime.
Since we did not know the names of most of the birds, even of those we have often been glancing upon casually, we started finding their names. Of course the GOOGLE guru was the handiest tool to do the job. And we did succeed in getting quite a few names.
Unfortunately some of the very common birds that we earlier have been living with since ages, seemingly have become extinct. One of those is house sparrow. Even common crows are a rare sight, at least in Chandigarh where pigeons and myanahs apparently rule the local bird-regime.
Not so strangely endless number of old Punjabi folk songs and sayings, which still are fresh in many a mind, have been woven around crows and sparrows. Following is the most popular sparrow song that still is sung in most of the marriages in the region:
“Sada chirian da chamba
ve, babal assan ud jana.
Sadi lammi udari ve, babal kehre des jana.
Tere mehlan de vich vich ve, babal dola nahin langda”.
Ours is a flock of sparrows, dear father,
We’ll fly away
On a long, long flight,
We know not to which land we shall go.
Through your mansion’s door, dear father,
The doli won’t pass).
Even cawing of crows, around which many myths were associated earlier, is rarely heard these days. Apparently a crows cawing is no more a warning sign of the dropping in of some guests at one’s home!
The other day while shooting, with my camera, a few crows that were drinking water from a water-puddle in our society’s lawn, I got transported to my Punjabi medium Khalsa school days.
English used to be taught in schools, during those days of mid-fifties, from class five onwards only. And our English learning was confined only to mugging up of different lessons without ever understanding them. Meaning or pronunciation of no word was considered as important as memorizing their correct spellings.
Their used to be many stories in our English syllabus. The most famed one was that of a 'thirsty crow'. This story used to fascinate us all ' paindows' very much. Not because of its contents, but for a silly reason.
For, whenever the story was read aloud in the class, in the given fixed format, we would laugh our hearts out, when the reader would reach the following sentence; "The thirsty crow flew hither and thither in search of water”. Because we would find the rhymed sound of alien to us words, 'hither and thither', amusing enough to tickle our funny bone!(Published on 25th May 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 22)