Imagine yourself sitting in the morning, relishing your coffee and just at that precise moment, a pigeon chooses to perch itself on your balcony. Its head bobs as it surveys its surroundings, emitting those throaty sounds while flapping its smelly dirty wings.

The coffee just loses its taste as you flap your newspaper at it to scare it into leaving. But the obstinate creatures that they are, they refuse to budge…. you and your coffee be damned.

The sound that they make…oddly it is called ‘cooing’ and I wonder why English language is so kind to these birds. I mean when a crow ‘caws’, why has English been diplomatic to the pigeons? I’d rather stick to gutar gu, atleast it sounds closer to the real sound.

Let me just add a disclaimer here, I am not particularly fond of pigeons and hence using them here as a metaphor. I know that quite a few people are so before I move on let me say that I have no intention to hurt anyone’s sentiments.

As a child I remember waking up to the chirping of sparrows. Where have all those sparrows gone? I miss those gentle, little brown birds who would flit in the terrace of my childhood. Not just the sparrows but an occasional koohoo of a Myna and the myriad croaks, squawks, clicks and whistles that would fill the morning air.

The harsh world and its urbanisation have been too much for the diminutive little birds. Adaptation being the operative word, pigeons made it while the sparrows are fast losing their battle. They are deserting us for the quieter country and I wonder how long will it be before we wake up to the impending environmental disaster. So, though the pigeons can’t be blamed for the situation but they are all we see!

I am not an expert to suggest what needs to be done but I’ll tell you what this makes me think. I liken these sparrows to those unassuming people who don’t like to blow their trumpets not because they don’t have anything to say but are often too conscious of having the spotlight on them, even if it’s a well-deserved one.

As they squirm and shy away from the attention, guess who we have to bear with? The loud-mouthed ones, who love limelight and have absolutely no qualms in laying a claim for it for every little accomplishment of theirs. And with so many outlets that the social media provides, they are having a ball. Their incessant gutar gu effectively drowns away the chirps till a day comes when the chirps just die away.

Why does it matter, you’d ask? I may be wrong but my hypothesis on this phenomenon is that a society which is unable to protect its sparrows ends up getting surrounded by pigeons. Just like those little birds the sensitive artists, writers and poets of the world are fast disappearing into oblivion. Remember ‘Dhinchak Pooja’ who shot to fame with her cringe worthy ‘Selfie maine le li aaj’! I may be overreacting but I feel that’s what we’d end up with!

I know, in an ideal world, quality speaks and eventually content is what matters. But sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world. Just the way, we should be creating a conducive atmosphere to get the sparrows back, we also need to make conscious efforts to protect this subset of people. If they find it tough to promote themselves and if their work deserves attention, let’s do our bit. Let’s reach out to them, lend them a helping hand, share their accomplishments, make them known. We’ll be doing ourselves a favour by pulling them from the precipice of extinction that they are standing on.

-Dr. Shivani Salil


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