Wildbuzz: From shooting birds to birdies

Rewinding to the pioneering path he took from the CGC of the 1970s to donning the mantle of India’s most successful golfer (13 international titles), Jeev’s generation was classic outdoors.
Jeev Milkha Singh receives a prize in an atheletics championship.(Milkha Singh family archives)
Jeev Milkha Singh receives a prize in an atheletics championship.(Milkha Singh family archives)
Updated on Oct 21, 2018 09:20 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Vikram Jit Singh

When Jeev Milkha Singh started playing golf in 1979, he was the most clumsy golfer among his peers. He scored a horrendous century (104 strokes) in his first round during a junior tournament at Delhi Golf Club in 1980! But, strangely, he excelled at other sports be it athletics, boxing, cricket or marksmanship. It was, thus, a defining moment for Jeev at a media briefing hosted by Chandigarh Golf Club (CGC) on Tuesday.

Jeev declared he was “humbled and honoured” that the second home of his childhood, the CGC, would be staging the inaugural Rs1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Invitational by Take Solutions. The tournament comes embedded with a Jeev designer approach to attracting fans from all walks of life to grow the game of golf.

Rewinding to the pioneering path he took from the CGC of the 1970s to donning the mantle of India’s most successful golfer (13 international titles), Jeev’s generation was classic outdoors. His childhood was spent strengthening his legs by tailing his father on the golf greens and countryside excursions to shoot partridge, duck and wild boar.

Swinging the Flying Sikh’s oversized golf irons or caressing and oiling Dad’s sporting rifles/shotguns came instinctively to Jeev. He turned an irrepressible shikari with an air gun and did not heed the warnings to desist or fear of divine retribution invoked by his mother, Nirmal, and eldest sister and painter, Aleeza.

Knowing Jeev would sneak out in the afternoons to shoot garden birds, his mother would force him to lie down next to her in post-lunch siestas. But once his mother dozed off, Jeev would wriggle out to the gardens with his air gun and to the club to shoot Rock pigeons on the imposing, tin-roofed shed that right-flanks the current 10th hole. The empathetic Aleeza would play the role of nurse for quarry injured in the shooting.

When Jeev was 12, Aleeza brought home a Rose-ringed parakeet and tended to the bird till it flew off from Jeev’s hands. That was a moral game-changer: Jeev understood that even birds have life, suffer pain and exhibit emotions, beyond the blur of distant wings, an ungainly squawk and a potential target.

What followed was fanatic repentance from a 12-year-old. Filled with remorse over bird kills, Jeev surrendered himself to long hours of ‘bhakti and pooja’. So self-devouring was his atonement that it had the Milkhas worried. It took a lot of cajoling to redirect the very young but immensely headstrong Jeev’s atonement obsession to a magnificent passion for golf.

A moth resting on a wall under a light bulb at a house in Sector 35. (Anju Kha )
A moth resting on a wall under a light bulb at a house in Sector 35. (Anju Kha )

On green wing, a night’s song

Emerald moths are the ethereal, flitting greens of the night. Like eyelashes fluttering on edges of moonbeams, like exquisite, enigmatic fairies in attendance to the ‘Queen of Darkness’. Moths are often bewitched by the artificial lights of city nights and are drawn to them, a fatal attraction as house lizards lurk like alligators at edges of light pools to snap them up and ingest them into a belly of darkness.

The moth in the photograph was captured under a light bulb in Sector 35, Chandigarh, by Anju Kha, a scholar pursuing a PhD in sociology from Panjab University. Kha’s passion for nature, which ran like unfulfilled undercurrents, finally found a tool for expression: her smartphone camera. She revels in clicking butterflies and moths around her house and nearby Topiary Park.

Kha’s moth was identified as a Hemithea species. PU lepidopterist, Prof Virinder K Walia, stated it belonged “to the family, Geometridae, sub-family, Geometrinae.”

(The writer can be contacted at vjswild1@gmail.com)

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Thursday, October 28, 2021