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Thursday, December 20, 2018

                    Leaders Of Nation

We seem to be approaching  closing time in  the  gardens of Sare  Jahan Se Accha Hindostan  Hamara. The nightingales have departed – or have been driven  out – 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 owls  are not the owls of Minerva, they are  not associated with wisdom and knowledge, nor do they  seem to be  the  carriers of  Lakshmi , 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 Baitha  Hai Anjame Gulistan Kya  Hoga.” ( “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 Thurber  which is very apposite for our time . ( I love  Thurber and I can never have enough of him!) A mole  tried 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 the  jungle .

 Inflated by  his 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 wondered  at the sagacity of this move ,  some even warned that  they 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 adoration  saw in this another proof of his courage, prescience, and the ability to lead. The truck   flattened  them over in no time. Owl, the great leader and all.