Of flora, fauna and freedom

Of flora, fauna and freedom


The only worthy ambition of childhood was to live close to a fragrant shrub! Commonly known as the ‘Night Queen’ this is ‘cestrum nocturnum’ belonging to the family of ‘Solanaceae’. She now graces my tiny garden. After remaining a dowdy unimpressive plant for a while she bloomed graciously.

The flowers were spiny yellow needles by day; heady enticing vials by night. After three weeks of such intoxication, the flowers fell off and she returned to her frumpy self. To my utter disbelief, in a month’s time, she surprised herself by sprouting a zillion flowers.

The gardener shook his head in disapproval and dubbed her a mutant. As for me, I firmly believe that it was our conversation right from her ‘sapling’ days that charmed her to bloom out of step, season and reason.

This small patch of green enhanced my joy by attracting a variety of birds. Red whiskered bulbuls, small green barbets, spotted doves, grey pigeons, Indian mynahs, coucals, cuckoos, purple sunbirds, tailor birds, bee catchers and an occasional Tickells’ flower pecker visited to forage on insects, nectar and earthworms.

Unlike fairy tales this bliss had to end! Marauding monkeys during the day, orphaned dogs and vagabond cats during the night began creating havoc. As if lost buds and pulled up roots weren’t enough, the garden had to be cleaned up of their ‘markings.’

The inevitable had to happen. This tiny island had to be enclosed by mesh and barbed wire. Freedom, yet again became the victim. Reprieve now is only in small measures; tiny birds and butterflies are the only visitors. By way of consolation a childhood dream stands realised.

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