The wonderful lines of WH Davies "What's this life if, full of care/ We have no time to stand and stare..." have always inspired me whenever I am in a pensive mood. It's futile lamenting over failure indeed, but good to refresh the mind by reflecting upon some absorbing scene.
With time, this mood-lifting technique has driven my interest in birds, animals, and people. A nest that a dove had built artistically on a thick-leaved hazelnut tree in our vast compound also took my fancy. Every few months, the bird would breed two chicks of a different size, shape and colour; feed the squabs for the first few weeks, and then start taking the young ones out for the first lesson in flight.
The dove had almost become a member of my family and daily we would feed it a variety of grain that it would pick up in her beak without fear. After having her fill, it would carry some grains back to the nest for the hungry, hooting young dole. Even the male partner would not have the right to enter the nest, for it belonged to the chicks, and the mother alone had the privilege of their company.
We would love to note her concern for the progeny. In winter, when the tree shed its leaves, the intelligent and resourceful bird would hatch its eggs in a groove in the trunk. During those cold months, it would camouflage the opening with leaves and twigs to save it from the eyes of predators. One day when it was away, we peeped in and observed how even the chicks were on their guard, calling out to the mother on first sign of danger and then ducking into a safe corner of the groove.
The happy process went until a spell of heavy rain, thunderstorm, and snowfall. During the downpour, the nest fell off the trunk and the chicks died of cold. The poor dove would hover over the dead squabs, as if in mourning. As it perched, a vulture caught sight of the dead chicks first and then carried away the grieving mother as well, leaving the once happy nest empty.
I don't ask you to care for the dove or its dead chicks; but sharing the grief of others does help us forget our own pain. The nest once full is bound to be deserted when God wills, so surrender to His will and enjoy your time. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is a Kangra-based career counsellor.)