“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, which would create ruckus at home and disturb the afternoon nap. Gauraiyya or Chidiya as they are called in our national language have become less visible these days. All of us have adored this sweet little bird through school poems.
Harivanshrai Bachchan in his poetry “Neev Ka Nirman” has portrayed the sparrow as a courageous soul irrespective of how small she is. 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 that she sees sparrows almost every day. 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 hasn’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 in fact a myna.
That’s when the phrase pops in 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 the 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 get 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 the scavengers. This in turn has affected the balance in the species. Amidst all, the importance of this issue in the declining number of the sparrows cannot be overlooked.
Will the sparrow return? The way we are progressing, I doubt this story will have any happy ending.