The countryside

The countryside

Representative image.

Pandemonium has reigned ever since the pandemic hit the world. Not one of us has been spared, each suffering in his or her own way. Many of us have been displaced from the familiar environs of our homes and forced to live in alien surroundings. I am one among them. I have had to leave the city, my home for many years, and acclimatise myself to a life in the suburbs of a town. But to my great relief and happiness, I have discovered that there is an upside to it. The pandemic, no doubt, is an ill-wind, but it is capable of blowing some good.

For me, it has opened up a new vista, largely removed from humans but close to nature. And what a beautiful world it is. The bird-life that exists here is abundant, something that city folks are unaware or quite ignorant of. All you need is a pair of good binoculars. These creatures come in all sizes and shapes and in breathtaking colours. There is, for instance, the strong-beaked, big kingfisher with a prominent white breast and vivid ultramarine and bright blue plumes. There is its smaller cousin dressed in equally bright feathers. Their call is distinct, redolent of open fields and blue waters alive with fish. The Brahminy mynah is a nattily turned out creature with a golden underside and a nifty tuft. A neighbour, who is a bird-enthusiast, has listed forty different birds he has spotted. I am eager to equate my record with his but have reached only the halfway mark. One easy way of enticing birds is to put out a bowl of water which allows them to quench their thirst or take a cool dip. These feathered friends take you right back to childhood with all its realms of wonders. You cannot resist contemplating— Are they aware of their wondrous plumage? What role do their bright dots of colour signify? What indeed is blue, red or any other colour?

One neighbour is a wildlife enthusiast. He is a practising doctor, but all his spare time is given over to animals and denizens of the woods. He is ready to come at any time of the day or night when some creature needs rescuing. His latest was a rat-snake that had entered inadvertently into a house. He guided it into a bag and released it into the wild. 

The countryside has reminded me that the simple pleasures of life are still available and well-worth preserving. There are stretches of green grass that harbour tiny but beautiful flowers. Bees and butterflies are abuzz around flowers that will eventually yield sweet fruit. The vegetables you buy are fresh with their natural flavours intact. The milk you get is wholesome and authentic. People are friendly and helpful and those entrusted with work perform it sincerely. What a far cry all this is from city life! Urbanisation has hardened and disillusioned us. The question is, have we found or lost our way?

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