We seem to be approaching closing time in the gardens of Sare Jahan Se Accha HindostanHamara. The nightingales have departed – or
have been drivenout – and what we hear
is the cawing of the crows, where of late the song birds sang with gay abandon.
The occasional owl has given way to a parliament of them . These owlsare not the owls of Minerva, they arenot associated with wisdom and knowledge, nor
do they seem to be the carriers ofLakshmi , the Goddess of wealth .
These are the harbingers of night and the forces that represent darkness.The famous couplet , Barbad Gulistan Karne Ko Bas Eh Hee Ullu Kafi Hai;
Har Shakh Par Ullu BaithaHai Anjame
Gulistan KyaHoga.” ( “One single owl is
enough to lay waste a blooming garden, what would be its fate if every single branch is occupied by an owl.”)
I am reminded
of a fable by James Thurberwhich is
very apposite for our time . ( I loveThurber and I can never have enough of him!) A moletried to hoodwink an owl one night and was
caught. He escaped to tell his compatriots that the owl was all powerful and he
could see in the darkness of night. A fox interjected,‘but can he see during the day?’ A valid question but he was promptly shooed
away.A delegation waited upon him to test his abilities. Some one asked him to
give another expression for “That is to say,” The owl promptly said, “To wit.” A bird hid her claws and yet the owl could
answer correctly. So on. Finally everyone was convinced that he was indeed God and he was invited to lead the animals and
birds of thejungle .
byhis new found recognition, the very
next morning he led his followers on the broad expressway . There were
outriders flanking the cavalcade and the owl marched in the firm centre followed by the motley procession. Some of the animals wonderedat the sagacity of this move ,some even warned thatthey were likely to be run over but the owl,
unable to see in the broad day light,jut smirked, sure in his wisdom . A huge truck was running into them directly
and the outriders warned the owl but he said, “yeah,I can see.”
His followers blinded by adorationsaw in this another proof of his courage,
prescience, and the ability to lead. The truck flattenedthem over in no time. Owl, the great leader and all.