‘Come, quick! You have to take a look at this!’
My father’s voice conveyed both his excitement and the urgency of the moment. We rushed to where he stood – at the door to the balcony. He signalled us to wait there and pointed outside.
A huge white bird sat perched on the railing of our balcony. All around it, the crows cawed as loud as their hoarse voices allowed them. This new bird was clearly not welcome. But the commotion didn’t faze the uninvited guest. We gazed in awe at its majestic presence. That was the first time I had ever seen an owl.
My grandmother (father’s mother) was sitting on her bed, when we asked her to join us. She was weak with old age and walked slowly. We prayed that the bird would wait for her. We didn’t dare step outside, fearing we may scare her* away. And she obliged. My grandmother was as excited to see the bird as we were. ‘Goddess Lakshmi has paid us a visit,’ she said.
She must have sat there for half an hour, clearly in no hurry to go anywhere. The crows could caw straight into her ear, and she couldn’t care less! We looked outside from our door to the balcony the entire time she sat there. We just couldn’t get enough of her!
* * *
The owl is called ullu in Hindi, and the word ullu also refers to a fool. I wonder why. With eyes wide open, they seem to be observant creatures. With greying hair and a deep thoughtful expression, to me, they are at once a picture of wisdom, peace and soft, furry, cuddly goodness. I’ve also seen very few owls — which may be the real reason why I find them fascinating.
As northern India prepares to welcome Goddess Lakshmi to their homes on Diwali, I wonder, will they call her consort a fool?
Wishing you a Happy Naraka Chathurdasi (and a happy chhoti Diwali, for those of you in the north!)
* I’m not sure if the owl was a him or a her. But I’d like to think of it as her. 🙂
NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging