Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Garden is no Paradise!

Squirrels in our garden
Scampered freely,
Up and down a row of mango trees
Appearing out of nowhere
They’d rush around with rare alacrity,
Their small, beady eyes darting everywhere
Emerging out of an unseen, black hole
Hidden inside the thick foliage;  
Bending generously over our house
Their habitat was a permanent honeycomb, 
In summers
Shading off the skin-scorching heat,  
Scattering thousands of delicious mangoes
Across our backyard
That squirrels often refused to touch or eat,
In winters 
The thick grove spread over our balcony,  
Giving a protective, green cover
To an otherwise sullen-looking, red-brick structure,
Threatening to engulf all Nature.
Our garden is no Paradise,
Yet birds in flight often stopped over
To splash and dive,
To roll and jive, 
In little pools of water
Our tap created,
Every time, it was thoughtlessly left open
Pretty little beaks drinking drops of muddy elixir,  
Only sometimes,
Surprise knocks on the window-panes
Made us wonder,
Why our guests have chosen not to press the door-bell?  
Curious to see the visitor’s face, 
As we pushed the curtains away,
An uplifted beak of a sparrow greeted us, 
Pecking into our woodchuck peace.
Most of the time,
The birds and squirrels left us alone
Minding their own little shops,  
Almost with a touching self-absorption;  
Never making any demands on our attention,
Caught in their own circumambulations 
Almost with Ganesha’s devotion. 
This completion is what we humans hate to see,
It reminds us of our own inadequacy;
Even if we have no will to control or destroy,
We find it hard to resist the impulse to try,
Dipping our brushes into rainbow palettes,  
Ready with our strokes to alter the design.  
For us,
Nature’s bounty and munificence are not enough,
We love to pierce her ears, turning truth into fluff. 
Her strange, enigmatic ways set our teeth on edge,
Driving between our needs and greed, a permanent wedge.
So, unmindful of the birds, squirrels and their habitat,
One day, the patriarch issued a diktat:  
Now that winter is almost upon us, riding slow, 
With sunshine our garden must overflow; 
We thought it was a very human decision, 
Lopping off a few branches was not out of season;    
A few unruly branches won’t make so much of a difference? 
They’ll grow back in no time, we argued in self-defense.  
The same thick foliage that serves us well in summers
Becomes a nuisance in winters, no fool readily suffers.     
When the first axe fell on the branches of a mango tree,
Several squirrels jumped out, running frenziedly,
Though a zigzag of broken shards on the wall,   
Unmindful of how it may rip off their fluffy fur  
Rendered homeless, they scurried for another cover. 
Now, our garden has plenty of sunshine
But birds don’t come calling, any more 
And squirrels, I’m told, have left for other shores.   

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