“Once upon a time….”
All fairy tales in my childhood used to begin with this phrase. It didn’t matter what came next, this was the beginning of any story, in any language, and then, you would know that it would end happily ever after.
However, this post is about a sad story. This blog post is a story about the sparrow. Those tiny birds would create a ruckus at home and disturb the afternoon nap. Gauraiyya, or Chidiya as they are called in our national language, has become less visible these days. All of us have adored this sweet little bird through school poems. Sparrows are smaller birds but make an incredible sight.
They are found in 2/3 of the world’s landmass and are no less impressive in their segregation into 24 species. Thanks to the European settlers who transported the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) to different parts of the world.
Harivanshrai Bachchan’s poetry “Neev Ka Nirman” portrayed the sparrow as a courageous soul irrespective of her size. But today, when I want to show a sparrow to my 5-month-old daughter, all I can see are the ever-increasing crows and pigeons. I was discussing this with my wife the other day, and she surprised me by saying she sees sparrows almost daily.
I was taken aback by this and asked her to point a sparrow out for me. When she did, it was that other incessant chirper, the myna. She never knew a sparrow because she hadn’t seen one in a long time… and hence the mistake. It took me a lot of time to convince her that what she identifies as a sparrow is a myna.
That’s when the phrase pops into my mind:
Once upon a time…..we would see the sparrows now and then.
Once upon a time…..trees were laden with her chirps at dawn and dusk.
Once upon a time…..we had sparrows building nests in our house.
Today the evenings are no longer filled with the incessant chirping of these tiny brown birds; instead, we have noisy horns and grumbling machinery to fill us with their acoustic interference. I am not an expert on the subject and wonder why and where have these tiny birds disappeared?
Lack of habitat, some might say, but sparrows have long back adapted to human construction and made it their home equally. Today how many people have a sparrow building nest in their attic, bathroom/toilet, above the windows? Hardly any!
Some scientists suggest that the sparrow gets affected by the mobile network towers and their microwave emissions. The increase in the population of crows has been related to growing garbage dumping that facilitates easy access to food for scavengers. This, in turn, has affected the balance of the species. Amidst all, the importance of this issue in the declining number of sparrows cannot be overlooked.
Will the sparrow return? The way we are progressing, I doubt this story will have any happy ending.