It was the day of our trip to Sossusvlei, one of the driest and warmest places in Namib Desert. After climbing up and down a couple of famous huge sand dunes named Big Mamma and Big Dada in Namib Desert, we were gasping for breath and feeling thirsty like anything. We had run out of all the drinking water except one bottle. It was around 2:30 pm. Warm winds were blowing hard and we could feel the scorching heat they carried on our eyes, cheeks, and neck…Our goggles and caps seemed inefficient to keep the bright sun and glare from the shiny sand dunes. We hurriedly went to a nearby cement bench under a tree till the Namibian Wildlife Resort (NWR) van picked us up. There was no slightest glimpse of the vehicle up to the horizon.
No sooner than we opened our last water bottle, a flock of sparrows appeared from above and started hopping around us. It was their natural instinct that informed them about high chances of getting food and water. Their beaks were open. The birds keep their beaks open without chirping for heat dissipation. It is their way to pant and keep cool. We thought of sharing our water with them. But we were short of any cup or deep plate-like container for serving it…We regretted throwing away our take-away plastic food containers. How would the sparrows have water?
We decided to leave some water in the bottle and cut the lower part of it to make a container. While Arun was looking for the Swiss knife, Nishant looked around hopefully for something useful to serve the purpose. Arun shortly came to know that the knife was left in another bag which we were not carrying.
The sparrows were waiting…in a line.
They were needy. They were depended on us for water. And we were feeling helpless. 😥
For a while that quiet waiting moment seemed to halt…What if we could not give them water and they decide to fly away…? No, I was not ready to prepare for this.
Sometimes I practically get to see, we all are connected to each other by an invisible string. We all being a part of a Big Plan; visit each other to settle the exchanges we are required to complete. Otherwise we would not have found a plastic container at such a barren place, that to made exactly how we were thinking on making one! It must have been made by some bird-loving tourist like us who left it there for birds. We were so pleased to have saved any more time on preparing a container.
I poured some water in to it and within a moment, all the sparrows gathered hurriedly around it. While they all were having water, we took out some biscuits and dates, and shared them with the sparrows. They were hopping around to collect small pieces of dates and then again returning to the water. Within a few minutes, the small container was empty. I poured some more water into it. It was good to see them coming near us without any hesitation…they trusted in us for we will not hurt them.
We were so contended to be able to feed them water, as much as they required. 🙂
Sparrow is a very common bird with basic body colors and requirements. Being a social bird, it is highly comfortable in the company of humans. It holds a special place in the baby poems composed in Indian local languages.
Sparrow is also mostly the first kind of bird that introduces us to the world of birds. 🙂 I remember my mother used to feed a few bits of cooked lentil, flat bread, or rice to the sparrows in verandah while we little siblings used to take our meal. The sparrows used to gather, chirp, and take all our attention. In the bargain, we used to finish all our food without creating any fuss. A house-sparrow used to enter our house fearlessly and fly around in the rooms…It knew where to enter and which window to take exit from. Its favorite activity was to sit in front of the dressing mirror and tap its beak on it. My father had confirmed to us that it was a female sparrow since it spent a lot of time in front of the mirror. 😀 The tack tack sound of its beak and the whistling sound of its flight in the rooms used to break the quietness of those lazy Sunday afternoons…
That sparrow had made its ungraceful nest in the loft near the kitchen, about which there was a little friction among men folk and women folk in the house. You guessed right, the women folk were for keeping the nest in the house, in spite of them having to clear the droppings and hay straws fallen on the floor daily. According to grandma, the social birds choose safest place to make their nests and she had felt privileged for the sparrows had selected our house. She was glad to foresee their family count increasing and being nurtured in our house. Hence she had warned the men and boys of the house not to touch the nest. 😉 and the men folk obeyed her with the curled lips. 😀 Once in the morning we got to know that the nest had four little nestlings. They used to make a lot of noise on arrival of their parents. We daily used to see the sparrow bringing some insects from outside and feeding its nestlings. Soon after few days, we came to know that the nest was vacated and left silent. My mother then cleared it completely. We missed the sound of chirps and wings for quite a few days later.
The number of sparrows has gone down drastically in Indian cities for last few years. We do not get to see them as many as we used to see them few years back…They say, the sparrows are not seen around because of the radiations produced by mobile communication towers…Some experts say, they left even the countryside because of the insecticides sprayed on the crops, and some others say, it is unavoidable effect of modernization that is hampering their lives in the cities. Maybe this highly adaptive bird has migrated to some remote place…Whatever the reason is, I strongly feel they must return and stay around us; for we need them.
Shortly we saw the NWR van approaching us. I emptied the bottle into that container till the last drop falls and packed our bags to board the van.
That day at Sossusvlei after so many years we had our lunch with the sparrows…They accompanied and reminded me of my childhood days for some time. I am so glad that it happened! 🙂