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Once there was a stork’s nest!

-Jayant Deshpande

Come spring and the alarm of the electronic clock used to be redundant. As soon as the day

broke the Indian plaintive cuckoo would start singing. The rising notes of this bird would

be immediately challenged by the Common Hawk Cuckoo. Pied Crested Cuckoo would add its calls

eager not to be left behind. This Cukoo cacophony would be pierced by the clear singing

notes of our common Koel.

However as I would try it was impossible to sleep with the windows open or closed. Thus the

birds forced me to welcome another day and get ready for work.  As I had my morning tea I

would be aware of all the other small birds like the Sunbirds, Ioras, Bulbuls, Flycatchers

and White Eye. The Shikra and the Sparrow hawk would make their royal presence felt on some

days, causing flutter amongst the smaller and weaker subjects.  From these feathered friends

I drew energy to beat the Monday blues, and get ready for week long toil.

One evening while coming home, I found a pair of white necked storks was making a nest on

the roadside banyan tree. These birds are foolish, I thought; to make a nest in the middle

of the hustle and bustle of traffic, they would never succeed in rearing their brood. Time

proved me wrong as these birds raised their broods successfully for many years to come. I

would often see them flying past my house towards the river in their quest to get food for

their young ones.  As they flew past, my conscience jeered at me telling me that the birds

were wise to choose their nesting site in an urban world.

Pune Municipal Corporation then decided to widen the roads. Development work started around

me as if there was no tomorrow. Trees made way for roads, buildings and compounds. I

curiously watched the development around the banyan tree, which must be at least 60-70 years

old if not more. The canal behind the tree was filled up to make a tar road, cutely named as

a service road, the road in front was made into concrete. To my dismay the branches began to

be lopped. I was the lone mute spectator, in a hopeless minority to this development which

the majority wanted – cost of democracy I thought, and consoled myself. Thankfully the tree

got away with parting a majority of its branches, and has lost the company of the storks for

ever. Now it stands like a helpless battle bruised wounded soldier surveying the destruction

around in the battlefield.

In my house now the windows are closed to make way for the AC. On the bed side table the

mobile rings an alarm to wake me up.  The cuckoo cacophony is trapped in an mp3 on my laptop

which is the only memory of the musicians of the yesteryears around me. 

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