Little Moments and Big Lessons
A pair of tiny Munia birds teach the writer the significance of courage and hope in life.
Early morning, the first ray of the sun, touching the earth, is fascinating to the mind. A cool and pleasant wind blows in the morning, sweeping away the cobwebs of the previous night. Sitting on the terrace, drinking tea and watching the birds flying in the sky is a thrilling sight. One such Sunday morning, I decided to have my breakfast on the terrace, where I could drink in the beautiful sights and sounds of nature. The month of Sawan had arrived, bringing relief from the heat of the summer months. The monsoon rains and the moisture laden breeze made everything pleasant. I could see many types of small birds; Bulbul, Munia, Black Bhujanga etc. hopping from one tree to another. I was reminded of a poem from my childhood days. I started humming it under my breath:
chidiya mujhe bana do raam
(Make me a bird, dear God)
chhote pankh laga do raam
(Affix little wings to my body)
baagon mein main jaoongee
(I will fly into a beautiful garden)
meethe phal main khaoongee
(I will savour sweet fruit)
itana bas kar do raam
(Please do this for me dear God)
chidiya mujhe bana do raam
(Make me a bird dear God)
Looking at the birds, I was struck with a strong desire to become a bird and fly in the open sky without any fear or thought. As I mused on sudden desire, my attention was drawn to the scaly-breasted Munia. I was seeing this bird for the first time, so it caught my attention. I quickly did an internet search about it and learnt that these species are found in grasslands.
I quickly ran in and brought out my camera and started taking pictures of the tiny bird. While taking pictures, I noticed that the Munia was busy making a nest. This species makes a circular nest of about 20 cm from grass leaves. As the birds were making a nest on the tree near our house, I could watch their activities secretly. The little munia was painstakingly bringing long grass mounds one by one to make the nest. Every morning before going to college, I would take a quick look to see how much the nest was built.
Seeing their dedication and hard work, I realised that when we humans wish to become a bird and fly high in the sky, we forget that like us, these birds also face problems and troubles in their life. However, this time I think Nature wanted me to realise just that.
Days passed and the nest was almost ready. I was waiting with bated breath to hear the chirping of the little ones. But what is this? Suddenly one day I heard the sound of birds screaming and crying. I quickly ran outside to see what was wrong. I saw seven to eight crows aggressively circling the tree with the munia nest. I realised they wanted to destroy the nest and make away with the eggs of the munia. I pelted them with pebbles, but they refused to budge. Rather, they started attacking me as well. I felt like I was caught in a scene from a film. It seemed as if some goons had come together to ravage the colony of poor and weak people. On the other hand, those bewildered birds looked like the people of the colony who were begging for mercy and hoping against hope that a hero would materialise and save them and the nest they had built with so much love and hard work.
Had it been a film, perhaps some hero would have come to their rescue and vanquished these goons but in reality, there was no hero who could save those birds’ nest from destruction. I watched sadly and helplessly as the crows destroyed the nest. I came to this unhappy and unfortunate conclusion that the strong always crush the week. This was true not only of humans but also of animals and birds. Seeing those crying birds, I wondered dismally whether there is no support for the weak.
The sun rose again the next day. I woke up with a heavy heart and started to get ready to go to college. When I stepped out, I was in for a surprise. I saw that both the male and the female Munia birds were building their nest again. After a few days, I noticed that they had finished the task of building their nest and the nest had been made on the same tree that had borne witness to its earlier destruction. Seeing them flitting in and out of their nest, I felt that these little birds were brave hearts. They seemed to be telling us that they were small, but they had huge amounts of courage. They were ready to do battle with predators. Seeing their intractable courage, I sent up a prayer to God asking him to make me a bird. But this time I wanted to become a bird, not to fly in the sky but to gain their courage and never-say-die spirit.
This whole episode taught me a great lesson in life. How quickly we humans get fed up with our problems and sink into depression. Faced with obstacles, we give up without a try and justify our attitude by saying it was God's will. But these little Munia birds taught me that courage and hope hold a very significant place in life. If one door is closed, somewhere there is another door and pathway waiting for us. We just have to keep going until we reach our destination.
Dr. Chetna Sharma is presently working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at M.M. Modi College, Patiala, Punjab. She is M.Sc. (Mathematics), M.Phil and a doctorate in the area of representation of quadratic forms. She has also done pioneering work by proving the Hensel’s Lemma with a different method for which she was awarded with Best Researcher Award during an international conference in 2018. She has more than Sixteen years of rich experience of teaching and research. She has attended many national and international conferences and seminars. She has one book and twelve research papers published to her credit.