About Pigeons And Prayers
June 3, 2013 4 Comments
Can’t quite recall when and how it started. Now every morning, I go to the terrace above our flat with a bowl of raw wheat grains to feed the pigeons. Looking at the numbers that flock – usually they’re already there before I reach up – it can’t be more than a few grains for each. May be I should double or triple the feed. I take care to spread the grains to give everyone his/her – haven’t learnt yet to make out a male from s female – share. It’s polished off in less than a minute. It’s good to see the crows – they too are around in plenty – don’t elbow out the pigeons. I’ve seen occasionally an inexperienced crow pick up a grain only to drop it in a moment and move away.
Leads me to wonder what do these guys survive on in this concrete jungle? Unlike crows they don’t settle on any kind of refuse. And they do look plump and numbers are not on the wane. Also what do the mynas, sparrows, parrots, koel’s find to eat in this vegetation-insect-bereft no-soil neighborhood?
I see them in hues of jet black, dull grey, just grey to even white all over with a few dark spots. A few have iridescent feathers around their neck. Some of the larger ones stomp around in circles aggressively grunting. And in a flock, one of these bullies is sure to take a shine to another smaller specimen and is hard to shake off. Is that their courting game?
I realized these guys do nothing all day long besides swiveling their necks around and changing their perch once in a while. Pretty comfy life? Do these guys have an ecological role at all to play? Only their end is invariably tragic. They become flightless due to age or injury and are savagely pecked to death by the crows.
Different from the flock, there are two special guests that are served every day at an exclusive table to seat just one diner at a time – on the metal-top of the aircon sitting outside the bed-room window. One guy comes in the morning – for some reason, he has lost all his feathers around the neck, and the other – his feathers form distinctive serrations on his body, though I can never be sure if he’s the same guy – comes in the evening. They would sit patiently, occasionally peeking in through the window crack, until I feed them. And when I do it, I lay the grains noiselessly so that intruders don’t invite themselves. Of course these guys chase them out if they do. The fights can be pretty rough. It’s always the narrow neck of the interloper that is pinched with the small beak.
To be honest there are days when I get irritated that these little speechless guys force me to act in ways they want me to. The wish to do the unexpected is overpowering. I know I’m shamelessly falling far short of the ‘dharma’ (cardinal principles) of ‘dhaanam’ (giving away) that says when the right hand gives away even the left hand should not know. They just sit there severely looking at me with their tiny orange-ringed black-pepper-like eyes on rubbery necks easily swiveling from side to side with no hint of humor or gratitude, bidding me to do the right thing by them day after day. I make faces at them, tell them to go off elsewhere…They tell me to stop being foolish and get on with it.
Does He in His High Heavens too feel like-wise at our prayers pressed on Him? I think I’ve stumbled upon why sometimes prayers go unheeded.
Can’t do much but feel sorry for His plight. Or, perhaps, pray?
Credits: openclipart.com (kamil_stepinski, Ramchand)