Often certain words or sights spiral into nostalgia fits and I revisit some cozy memories that more than eke a smile on my usual laughter ridden lips.
First, I want to mention the hibiscus flower which grew in abundance along our building boundary wall separating us from the train station in Bombay. ( to my mind I cannot for the life of me call it Mumbai!). I have no idea why we called them shoe flowers and often ate them, stamens and all. I can still experience its tast…e on my tongue. It was almost like sticky sweet okra that we Indians call “lady finger”. We equally enjoyed bootlegged guavas and raw green mangoes especially as they had an element of danger attached to them as we often got threatened and chased away by a fat stick wielding gardener (maali). That adrenalin rush still makes me smile.
Such utter bliss of insouciant childhood cannot be replicated later on in life.
Now on to pigeons. Whenever, wherever I see pigeons I get drawn to them right away. Be it our flat in Bombay or later in Delhi and grandpa’s house in Amritsar Punjab, we always had pigeon nests and “cooing” sounds are as comforting to me as the noisy rattle of moving trains. One memory truly gets highlighted in mind as it was horrifying. Once our Nepali cook captured one less than full grown pigeon as he wished to cook it for a friend who had a severe case of pneumonia. Pigeons according to him sped up the curing process for such ailments.
We simply enjoyed following the whole birth cycle – eggs, to cracking shells to baby pigeons and then the swooping take offs. Mum, a stickler for cleanliness usually clucked her unhappiness as she got the bits of sticks and dry grass swept for the umpteenth time. I even took a real close up of a pigeon in Lisbon Portugal in which you can even see its yellow eyeball.
Red hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu goddess Kali,
and appears frequently in depictions of her in the art of Bengal, India,
often with the goddess and the flower merging in form. The hibiscus is used
as an offering to goddess Kali and Lord Ganesh in Hindu worship.