There is always a squirrel on a tree. In our move from house to house, from one far off town to another, after all the boxes had been unloaded, after all the rooms had been explored, one would go out into the ‘lawn’, which was often a rag-tag mix of some old trees, a patch of grass, some ‘borders’– everything generally unkempt and in a mess that in a mater of weeks mother would turn into a garden of many delights. And from somewhere within that ragged patch a sharp greeting would sound, “chip, chip, chip” with the “p” often sounding like “ch”. It was the squirrel on the tree.
Calling out, perhaps, to me. Though anyone who has lived through summer in India knows the call is far from a greeting and more of an alarm.
In probably 6th standard, all those who have Hindi as a subject, read a story called Gillu Gilhari (gilhari being the Hindi word for squirrel) by a famous Indian poet Mahadevi Verma. The story is wondrous and even though one doesn’t remember anything about it, except for the fact that it is about a squirrel named Gillu, one is sure it must have been magical to have left such a deep impact that till today every time one sees a squirrel one’s mind automatically calls out, “Gillu gilhari”.
Which is often followed by Mrs. Lahri calling out, “A–, prastut panktiyon ka bhavarth batao (explain the meaning of the following lines).” But that is the subject for another post.
Coming back to the squirrel. Years later, even now when all our boxes have been unloaded and one surveys the view from the large double glazed windows, for where is the luxury or time for gardens, especially when one is, every few years, packing and unpacking boxes that slowly decrease in numbers*. And sure enough in the tree outside there is a squirrel. Often not as chirpy as the childhood one but more than matching in daring what it lacks in the sound department.
One is astonished to realize: How little it takes to experience the joy of being at home.
*it's the result of learning, accumulated over the years, to carry along only that which one needs the most. Also in part a result of learning to appreciate, what Pico Iyer discussed in, The Joy of Less.
The squirrel in the photographs who consented gladly, or at least stayed still long enough, for its portrait to be taken is a resident of my mother's garden.
This post is the result of a comment on the blog from another fellow friend of the squirrel. You can visit her blog of many delights here.