PRIYA KHANNA lives in a quiet Cantonment town in Uttarakhand. So far, the area has been relatively untouched by the pandemic. Of late, she has taken to feeding the birds in the area – a welcome diversion from the disturbing news that is flowing in from the rest of the country, she says

While the Corona pandemic sweeps across the country like a tsunami, cutting a wide swathe of grief and desolation through the urban population, we remain hidden in our sleepy cantonment in the hinterlands of Uttarakhand, keeping our fingers crossed that we remain untouched by this modern-day scourge.

Every day, I thank God for our safety and blessings. But life in the boondocks is dull and it’s hard to find things that uplift your spirits and provide some meaning to a secluded existence during these difficult times. Post a suggestion from a friend, I decided to keep my spirits high by finding ways to feed the birds around our area.

I began by putting out some rice and filling earthen bowls with water for the birds. However, considering the vast population of monkeys in the area, I wasn’t very surprised to see that the minute I scattered the grains on the flat area and turned to go, a monkey or two would already be in place and bending down over the raw rice and licking the grains off the hard surface as fast as possible.

Priya Khanna

Every day in the morning, as I would walk across to scatter the grains, the monkeys would be waiting for me in the trees overhead. Soon, they had become bold enough to sit right there on the ground and watch as I came and went about my scattering duties. Some were even bold enough to hoot at me if I stared directly at them. 

I started keeping a watch to see if any birds were actually coming to eat the grains, as they were my primary target, and my joy knew no bounds when I saw a woodpecker sitting and pecking at the grains. Other family members told me that they had seen black ravens also pecking at the rice. 

My husband got into the spirit of things and ordered a birdfeeder and a water dispenser. He also ordered some birdseed. Excitedly, we put it up and waited for the birds to discover the new food source. But, as you can guess, before the birds could find the birdfeeder, the monkeys had found the new toy and they promptly removed the feeder and carried it up to the roof of the building block.

We ran upstairs and rescued the birdfeeder from the roof and hung it up again. Thinking of it as a game, the monkeys grabbed it once again and this time, they broke the little plastic bird perches on the feeder. Sadly, we had to admit defeat and retire the birdfeeder and continue scattering the grains directly on the flat surface in the garden where the birds continued to come and peck at the grains.

Now that I have stopped scattering rice and started leaving birdseed, I see fewer monkeys and the grains aren’t getting over as quickly as they used to. I don’t think the monkeys like the substitute grain. Occasionally, I crumble a roti or some bread for a dietary change. I don’t know if the birds eat it or the monkeys do, but it’s usually gone by the next day.

Mango season is upon us and all the mango trees in the area are laden with tiny green mangoes, so the monkeys have a lot to eat. I just hope they leave some fruit for the parrots and other birds, too. Keeping my focus on birds and monkeys in my vicinity, I find it’s easier to cope with the disturbing news that flows in from the rest of the country. 

If I can help provide for someone other than myself, I feel blessed and these days, we all must count our blessings and try to help in any way we can. Every little bit counts. Let me end with this one thought — stay safe and healthy, dear reader, for soon, we shall overcome. 

An offspring of two fauji doctors, Priya Khanna is now a full-time, stay-at-home fauji wife and mother to a teen terror and a gorgeous golden cocker spaniel. When she’s not reading, Priya Khanna is likely bingeing on a crime series on Netflix and reminiscing about the time when she was jetting all over the world for her work as an instructional designer with a Gurgaon MNC. 

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Image by Oldiefan from Pixabay 

Featured image by Susan Oh from Pixabay