When we open our front door to step out, there is a neat row of little toys that meets the eye. Camel, Elephant, Duck, Dinosaur – they all stand sharply, on guard duty, on the porch beam right under our roof. I understand this is not a common place for toys to be found. Let me share with you the story of how this came about.
It happened a few months back. It was the beginning of summer. Flowers were blooming. Pictures of the aforesaid flowers were being posted on Facebook. Vegetables were growing. Experiments of the stir fry kind were being made of the aforesaid vegetables. Birds were chirping. The sun was shining. All was dainty.
Wait, did I mention the birds were chirping? This particular summer, the birds were chirping rather loudly. In fact, they were chirping very loudly right outside our front door – announcing their arrival at an uninvited long homestay of the aviary kind.
There on the wooden beam lining our front porch, between two tall posts, two little birds had found a sanctuary. They nestled into a lovely picture and began the daunting task of constructing a nest. The only issue was, well, the spot chosen happened to be right outside our front door.
While the adults clamored in frenzy on what to do, my 4-year-old waved his recently acquired balloon at the birds. Before any of us could react the alarmed birds flew away. But these were determined little creatures. They knew a balloon can’t do them much harm. Maybe they even interpreted it as an invitation to come and share our abode. Within minutes, they were back. Chirping, dropping little strands of hay and decidedly settling themselves down.
We consulted amongst ourselves and decided it was best to let the birds nest a little further away from the entrance – a little removed from daily human interactions. It would be safer for them. After all, little kids cannot be trusted with little birds and little bird eggs. The question was, how do we communicate this to the birds without offending them?
My father had an ingenious idea. He strode to the children’s playroom and recruited some promising toy animals in the toy box to sentry duty. He busied himself with a chair propping each toy, positioning them carefully a few feet away from each other on the long beam. The birds took a lazy break to see what we were conjuring up. Soon we had a lion, a duck, a dinosaur, an elephant, a camel, a polar bear among other things positioned strategically on the beam. The plan was to push the birds to retreat further away from the front door. The part of the beam with no toys would thus seem harmless and hopefully, welcome them into a new nook and abode.
But somehow these determined little birds would not budge. Instead, they nudged. They nudged the white polar bear and realized it didn’t do much. They nudged the lion, the duck, the penguin, the camel and finally called the whole thing a hoax. They chirped some more and declared they were most decidedly home right where they were.
I finally resigned to hosting them there for the season. Maybe it would be a learning experience for the kids. They could watch the eggs hatch and little birds come out and it won’t be so bad after all. I began to actually look forward to it.
But one morning when I looked out, they were gone again. Maybe they found better quarters at one of our neighbors’ houses. Maybe they realized trees make for more scenic and safer living quarters. Maybe they took offense to our strange ways of being hospitable. Whatever be the reason, they flew away.
The toy sentries though still stand there resolutely. They didn’t do much to dislodge the birds, but they still form a pretty sight. Duck, lion, dinosaur, camel, all in a row greeting me every morning when I open the door. And so we carry on. The birds in the trees, humans in the house and the toys on the front porch beam outside, everyone happy at home.