Translated by Alok Gupta
The morning when this photograph was taken, I saw these two chicks, nestling cozily against each other. It’s a pleasant day today, not too hot. They know that, they feel it. But do they know that they are the subject of this photo essay.
Three years ago, a dove began visiting my house. Every day she would fly in and sit in this same corner. We saw that she was trying to build a nest there but the nest would fall every time the door was opened. We felt sorry every time. Then Papa told us it was time for her to lay eggs, which was why she was constantly trying to make the nest. He said we should help her. We tried to find her a solution and then ended up tying a plastic basket to the outer part of the door.
The next day itself, the dove started collecting twigs and bringing them to the basket. We were thrilled. But the twigs she brought kept falling through the holes at the bottom of the basket. My sister lined the basket with a piece of cloth. In a few days the nest was ready and the dove soon laid her eggs. And soon the chicks hatched. We kept some food and water near the nest to help the dove feed herself and her chicks. The bird knew she was safe with us. We were glad to win her trust.
As I write about the dove these sparrow fledglings begin to chirp inside my empty electricity meter box. A sparrow had laid eggs inside the box just fifteen days ago. But that’s a story for another day. Let’s come back to dove.
We replaced the nest basket twice over the last three years. It is her home now. She lays her eggs here, and her chicks hatch and then grow and fly away. In this basket nest, the dove has laid eleven clutches of eggs and twenty-two chicks now fly in the open sky.
We lock birds in cages and these caged birds might even bring us happiness, but real happiness comes from giving them a space to which they may come as they please and take off at will.
The song of a caged bird can never sound as sweet as that of a free one.