Sunday, Feb 11, 2024 12:45 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Feb 11, 2024 07:04 [IST]

Feathered Companion


Our aita (grandma) was always expecting a guest at lunchtime. She used to cook handful of rice extra in her kitchen. I was starting to wonder, whether a visitor will turn up on any given day, but she always hoped to see someone at her door and even provided a meal to a beggar during lunch hour. There was nothing special but our favourite sak-bhaji (fried vegetable) seasoned with alkali from Koka’s (grandpa) backyard sakani-bari (vegetable garden). She says, a guest is akin to God, never turn away from a khuji-mangi-khua-manuh (a beggar). She lived a humble life and her deeds left an indelible mark on our daily lives.


As we now moved to cities for work and life, it’s a worry that our kids will lose their ancestral tongue and values. Now it’s rare to see a guest at our so called a new concept of BHK living with buzzing doorbell, where we are tied up with the virtual world. We kept swiping the screen on Android/IOS device from the bottom, one after another until the level of satisfaction desired, when jobs with computer at office and smartphone addiction at home make our days unstoppable that separate us from the reality. It cuts us off from our relatives / friends and expecting a guest at the weekend is a rare occasion.


However, it was another day, amidst the rush of dropping my wife off at school, and back home preparing my day for workplace, my morning encounter begins with a lovely pair of doves at our make-shift garden at balcony that fortunately looks out over a jaan (stream). There I heard a repeated splashing sound of rub-a-dub-dub, where a freshwater spring bubbled up from the ground.  Birds love having water around for bathing and drinking even in the coldest months of the year. A good bath keeps their precious feathers in the best condition possible for as long as possible because feathers are their lifeline.


It’s winter now. As I lie awake after listening birds chirping monotonously outside the window, I was wondering why birds insist on singing at the crack of dawn so early. The sound of lovely birdsong trills outside the glass pane. Though they typically forage in the trees and bushes but also thrive in human interaction too. Birds chirp in the morning because they’re looking for a mate, protecting their territory against rivals, and warming up their voice for the day. Observing this entire natural phenomenon, I find them actually calling our attention.


Every day it’s fascinating to watch birds flying away soon after feeding some grains as birds often take flight when humans draw near. I set to understand this behavior, it’s a survival mechanism since birds are vulnerable to predators and their lightweight bodies are not well-suited for self-defence. Birds are symbols for love, purity, peace, and hope in our daily life. Keeping a distance from them and their nests helps them feel more comfortable around us. Thereby ensure birds continue to thrive in our world.


It really captured my imagination to begin a day. I saw their building a nest out of small sticks and twigs, and placing it on a flower tub. They are solitary and live alone outside of the breeding season. One fine day, two eggs are laid, and protective dove parents are incubating for weeks. It’s devastating for the doves when a hungry squirrel entered their nest and consumed unhatched eggs after they left the eggs unattended for seeds, fruits and berries though we offer some grains every day.


Despite all that happened, now we saw another nest in the making to a new safe location, where a pair of doves would lay eggs in upcoming days, incubate their chicks and would love to see them raising its young. Probably after a month, one fine day young doves will be independent from their parents and fly away from our balcony.  I don’t wonder why they fly away. It’s not a rejection of our company. It results from millions of years of evolution, their instinct to avoid potential threats and the unpredictability of human behavior.


Birds are fascinating creatures, and their ability to adapt to their environment is awe-inspiring. We coexist with these feathered companions and have ever wondered what our daily visitor might be saying to us, “it’s a quieter time to sing”.



Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi