On Tuesday (29-July), I had gone to a temple near my house — it is a Hanuman temple that has wide open space around the sanctum sanatorium for children to play around, which is a luxury in Bangalore now-a-days! My two kids, who are aged 7 and 3, enjoy to go to the place because they can play with other kids who visit the temple for the same reason!
This visit turned out to be out of ordinary.
As my kids were playing, at one place, they suddenly stopped in their tracks. They sat down and started watching something on the ground; from the distance, it looked like a small stone or a bunch of sticks. I called out for my kids to continue playing and not pick up something that has fallen around; my son has this habit of picking and carrying sticks and twigs that he finds when he is playing around; unfortunately, I need to be the store keeper for his collection. And today, I did not want that to start off.
However my calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears; my kids refused to move from their place. As a dutiful father, I asked my wife to go and look what it is 🙂 My wife being a good mother that she is decided to go and have a look after a few minutes, and not just jump at a father’s request! After some time, when she felt the kids were spending too much time just sitting and watching something on the ground, she went to where the kids were; she sat down with the kids and started talking animatedly to the kids while pointing to what was on the ground. Okay, maybe it was indeed interesting that I was missing out on; I was still reluctant to get up and walk that distance to be part of the excitement that my kids and wife were part off. Suddenly, my wife rushed back to where I was relaxing, picked up her mobile and started to make a call while heading back to the place where by now my kids were comfortably seated on the ground.
This was getting a bit intruding even though I did not want to get dragged into it.
I rose from my place, walked to where my kids were comfortably seated and my wife was making a call. At first, I did not recognize what it was; as I bent to have a closer look, I was astonished by what I saw — it was a baby Squirrel! You do see Squirrels playing and moving around the place, but how often do you have a chance to look at a baby Squirrel sitting there right in front of you? It was a truly a small animal and was probably feeling cold as it was shivering; it was trying to wrap around itself for some warmth. I sat next to my kids and we made a circle round it to block off the wind that was blowing. My kids with all their enthusiasm were explaining what was in middle and how it was calling for its mother — why do kids always believe a call is made to a mother and not father?
Anyway, in all this excitement I noticed that my wife was making calls to multiple folks; not sure what she was trying to do, I asked her. Being a mother, she said the baby Squirrel must have fallen off its nest that is on the roof top, and it needs to be united with its mother (again no mention of father!). She was trying to get someone to get a ladder so that the squirrel can be carried and placed in its nest. Okay, I got it that she was working on a rescue act to unite the baby Squirrel with its mother!
While she was doing that, I asked my kids if they knew how the (Indian) Squirrels got their stripes on their back? They did not know; I told them a story that my grandmother, who was a great story teller, once told me when I was a kid. In Ramayana, which was in the Treta Yuga, Rama, the king of Ayodhya, was building a bridge to cross over to Lanka, where his abducted wife Sita has been kept captive by Ravana, the lord of Lanka. Being a righteous person that Rama was, every creature on this earth wanted to help Rama in this endeavor. Each contributed in its own unique way; Squirrels too helped. What they did was pretty significant: they carried gravel and sand, and poured it in gaps/cracks that had developed between two boulders; not only did it close the gaps, but also added to the strength to the bridge. After the bridge was built, Rama offered gifts and blessing to every creature who had supported him in the bridge-building effort. And when the turn of Squirrels came, he did not have anything that was befitting their effort and size. So, he asked Squirrels, what is that they wanted? The Squirrels were just happy and contended lot and said they did not want any gifts, but wanted to be with him. Rama, overwhelmed by their love and affection, took the Squirrels in his palm and stroked them on their back, which left an imprint on Squirrel’s back. The three stripes that the Indian Squirrels carry even to this day is that of Rama having stroked their back with love and affection!
Back to the present; my wife having made multiple calls to different folks had successfully managed to arrange for a ladder. We sat there around the baby Squirrel waiting for the ladder to arrive. It was 6.45 PM, and getting darker by the minute. Finally, at 7.05, an acquaintance brought a ladder carrying it on his bicycle all the way from his home that was about 1.5 to 2 kms from the temple. My wife thanked him and we put up the ladder to the roof top. Now, the next challenge — how do we carry the baby squirrel to the roof top? We had heard people say that if a baby Squirrel is touched by a human, the Squirrel’s family will not accept it. Not sure if it a myth, but we did not want to take a chance; what if it is true?
We found a hero in the temple priest, who is a family friend of ours. He brought in a couple of polythene bags and said he will use them as hand gloves to carry the baby Squirrel –necessity is the mother (not father) of all inventions 🙂 He put on his makeshift hand gloves and picked up the baby squirrel; all along, he was getting a lot of (unsolicited!) advise from us what is the safest way to pick up and carry the squirrel. Thankfully, he decided to do his own way and pick up the baby Squirrel. He climbed the ladder and carried it to the place where he had seen Squirrels play around. It was in the gopuram, which is a monumental tower at the entrance of the temple. He placed the baby Squirrel at one place and stood there for a couple of minutes as we all watched from below holding our breath — a lot of thoughts was racing our mind: will the baby Squirrel identify its nest and go? what if the baby squirrel has hurt itself? will the other squirrels accept it? Thankfully after what felt like eternity, the baby Squirrel took steps and crawled within one of the dark corners of the gopuram.
We felt relieved and happy!
The coincidence of the place where the baby Squirrel went was not lost: in the gopuram, there was the statue of Rama and Sita in a sitting posture. The baby Squirrel went and slept peacefully on Rama’s lap 🙂