The Recluse and the Squirrels

My grandma’s house bustles with activity during festivals. We gather their to spend time together and rejuvenate our souls with the love and affection of the elders. The days are lazy days that leave us high on gup-shup time; interspersed with games like pittho, corner-corner, ludo, putting jigsaw puzzle together, table tennis, hide and seek, etc. Or in other words, we regress into time and progress in our relationships. The bonds are nurtured and deepened with the valuable time spent to nourish them.

There too, a recluse like me, needs a dose of solitude once in a while. So, I started hunting for a solitary spot and entered the quiet corner of the backyard. The sunlight was streaming through the neem tree. Though it seemed like a quiet corner, nevertheless it too, was bustling with activity. There were squirrels, ants and insects moving around in carefree abandon.

As I strolled into the open space, the squirrels ran for their dear life. While on the run, some of them alerted their counterparts with the swift thumping of their tails. There was movement all over the place. A few ran up the trunk of the neem tree, the others gathered speed and settled on the ber-ka-pedh. And the one nearest the dilapidated cowshed climbed the old broken stairs.

I quickly settled myself in a corner lest I disturb their daily chores. The squirrels started eyeing me from the branches of the trees. As I slowly melted into the surroundings, they gained confidence and were back on the earthen floor. They started foraging through the foliage for seeds and nibbled at them with the swift movements. Now that’s exactly the moment when one wishes to capture the activity either in words or in a picture. The cute movement can’t be stored away for eternity with a click of a button. Maybe with words I can try to preserve them and relive the amusing time spent amongst the cutest creations of the Almighty!

As much as I tried not to reach out for my phone, I involuntarily picked it up and clicked a few pictures (though I didn’t have time to focus the lens and thus the bad picture quality). Through the lens, I noticed a squirrel leap up to hold the branch of a brinjal plant. It picked on the violet flower, while balancing the body on the haunches. The sunlight was glistening on its head. It reminded me of the perfect pictures of squirrels on Archies cards of the bygone era. The squirrels looked amazing on the cards but they look even better in the backyard, in their own country.

I am suddenly distracted by a spurt of activity in the distant corner. There were two squirrels chasing each other. The bigger one caught up and snatched the seed, and the smaller one squeaked in dismay. Annoyed, the smaller squirrel chased the bigger one. They run up the tree trunk and vanished for a while only to be seen later on the wire connecting the electricity pillars; balancing with their tails and joined by a third one.

The other squirrels were chattering in the open space, racing up and down the area, collecting seeds. Squirrels always seem to be in a hurry, always running around waging their bushy tails, making swift movements of the head, watching with their expressive eyes and enticing the observer with their innocent looks. I was completely smitten.

There wasn’t a dull moment while I sat glued to my place. I was in the backyard for almost an hour and a not a moment to spare for the book in my hand or the solitude on my mind. For a change, the recluse in me enjoyed company…the company of squirrels!!