Singing of birds may not be music to the ears

  • Letters
  • Sunday, 05 Oct 2003


DELHI: Here is a hypothetical scenario, and it is for you to decide how you would react if it were a reality in your life. 

The road along which your house is situated has a number of trees planted on either side of it. The sparrows, robins, doves, pigeons and other birds living in these trees start twittering, cooing and chirping early in the morning. 

Now, honestly, do these birds get on your nerves as they serenade you with their sweet music? Are you so offended by their singing that you write a strongly-worded letter to the municipal authorities of your town, requesting them to fell all the trees on your street so that birds no longer bother you with their pre-dawn singing? 

I think none of us can be so heartless and unfeeling as to deprive our streets of all those beautiful lush green trees. Nor so cruel as to deprive the poor birds of their little abodes in those trees. In fact, even the most prosaic and unmusical guys love listening to the chatter of birds. 

Personally, I think there are fewer sounds in this world sweeter than the soft, low-pitched, fluty notes that a dove lets out intermittently, as it sits hidden in the foliage of a tree. 

But, surprisingly, there are people who perhaps do not care much for bird music. They think sparrows, thrushes, doves and blackbirds living in trees around their houses are a nuisance, for they wake them up early in the morning with their incessant warbling. 

Some time back, I read in a newspaper that a pensioner in a town in Scotland could no longer tolerate the birds disturbing his sleep at four in the morning. So he and his like-minded neighbours sent a petition to the municipal officer of their town to saw off all the trees in their neighbourhood so that birds did not disturb their sleep. 

Such indeed was the magnitude of their grouse against the singing birds. Fortunately, the number of people in this world who hate the songs of birds is insignificant. Most of us enjoy being roused from our slumbers by birds with their early morning songs. 

But we certainly hate the racket created by stray dogs in our neighbourhood. Their collective barking throughout the night can raise the blood pressure of the most sedate among us.  

I once lived in a small town of Haryana, where at times I felt very sure that stray dogs outnumbered the modest human population. 

Strangely, during the daytime, one seldom heard these stray dogs disturbing anybody’s peace. But as soon as the sun went down, a large congregation of them could always be seen roaming our street, like sentinels guarding their territory against intruders. 

Sometimes the mischief began when the stray dogs of a neighbouring street sneaked into ours and a pitched battle ensued between the two hostile forces. Barking, growling, biting and leaping at each other with murderous fury, they would create such a pandemonium that sleep was impossible for the residents of that street. It was only towards the wee hours of the morning that the warring armies called it quits and dispersed. 

Occasionally, however, there were other weighty reasons for creating a ruckus. For instance, a female of the species would become the cause of a prolonged murderous fight between two gallants. A fight in which the victor finally got his lady-love and the vanquished ended up licking honourable wounds! 

Surprisingly, the municipal committee of that town never bothered about ridding the people of the scourge of stray dogs.  

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