Freedom of the skies

However, I have one reservation: birds should have the right to stay in homes which give them shelter, food and companionship. I give a few examples. Retired Air Chief Marshal Latif lives in a spacious bungalow in Hyderabad. He has one room stretching into his garden. He has two to three dozen quails living in it. Every morning he joins them for breakfast and every evening for tea. He feeds his birds; they are all over him twittering happily. A couple of cats eye the quails from the outside. The quails watch them from their ‘cage’. The quails enjoy security, food and love they get from their owner.

There is Kamal Nain Singh, retired IAS officer and his wife, also retired IAS. They live in Chandigarh and have a summer house in Kasauli. In their sitting room live a variety of birds — chukors, partridges, and quails. Also, a dog or two. The birds can fly away if they want to. But they prefer to stay at home. When Kamal Nain or his wife comes, the birds give them a noisy welcome. The sight is heart-warming.

The third case is Ramesh Singh who lives in Frankfurt (Germany). His German wife bought a grey African parrot. At first they kept it in a cage. Then they closed the windows of the room and let it fly round. When I first called on them, the parrot was perched on a swing specially designed for it. It would welcome its master by squawking loudly, flying round the master’s head, sitting on his turban and then his shoulder and tweak his beard. Ells died two years ago. Ramesh lives with his closed companion — the grey African parrot. While interpreting the Gujarat high court judgement, I hope no one will come in the way birds bonding with human beings.

No god, heaven, hell

Stephen Hawking, 69-year-old physicist in Cambridge, is recognised as the greatest living genius of our times.

When he was just 21 years old, he was stricken by a serious disease and told he would not live very long. He mentions this in his book ‘The Grand Design’ published last year: “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I am not afraid of death. But I am in no hurry to die.”

In a recent interview with a press reporter he repeated why he did not believe in God, heaven or hell. There is nothing startling about his assertion as two centuries before him Mirza Ghalib said the same thing:

Hum ko maaloom hai jannat kee asleeat, lekin
Dil ko khush rakhney kay liye Ghalib khayal achha hai
I know the truth about
But it is a good idea to keep one’s heart happy.
Likewise, another Urdu poet wrote:
Hakayat-e-hastee sunee to
dermiyan sey sunee
Na ibtida kee khabar hai, na intiha malloom
What we have heard of the tale is only the middle
We do not know the beginning
We do not know the end.

I have been saying the same since I started writing these columns over half a century ago. And I am no genius. I exhort my readers who do not know the answers to life and death to admit that ignorance and say, “I do not know”.

Pakistani English

Pakistani cricketers who do not know the English language well, prepare the answers before the match. After the match was over, Tony Grieg interviewed Inzmamul Haq.
Tony Grieg: “So Inzy, that is fantastic, your wife is pregnant for the second time.”
Inzmam said: Masha Allah, all the credit goes to the boys. Everyone worked hard for it, specially Afridi, it was a tight situation, when he went in. His performance was really fantastic in the middle. Also, good crowd gathered to see his work.

With love

Last evening, I was in the pub with my wife, Savinder.
I said, “I love you”.
My wife said, “Is that you or the Scotch talking?”
I said, “Its me Savinder, talking to the Scotch.”
(Both contributed by J P Singh Kaka, Bhopal)

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