Maina pair and superstition - One for sorrow, two for joy
Maina pair has taken a large share of my childhood and girlhood. A glimpse of a pair of Maina in the morning used to detect the day…how the day would go! Sight of a pair always used to consider as holy, ‘subho’. As if they were detecter, they had invisible power to control the day! On the contrary, sight of a single Maina might bring misery or the day wouldn’t go nicely; a deep-rooted mindset was developed in my childhood. So whenever I used to watch a pair of shalikh, I used to offer a pranam , a short and speedy one…raising my right hand upto nose .
During examination period, especially those subjects that I disliked, I remained very careful not to watch outside, a cautious effort to avoid the sight of a single Maina. But Alas! A single ‘Shalikh’ invariably used to come in my notice, made my spirit low, made me more tensed. Mathmatics had always been a subject of tension. A phobia grew in me and I hated the subject throughout my early schooldays. I promised that after class ten I left this subject forever.
My phobia would end eventually. Perhaps almighty laughed at me. I had changed my mind and took science stream in class eleven. Maths was a compulsory one. But the syllabus was interesting. Calculus, Statics, Dynamics….all created an interest in me. But I was unable to overcome the phobia before examination. I grew pale, tension grabbed me. I loved to watch nature on those mornings. How happy the trees in our garden, how happily the birds run their lives…tension free! I wished to be a bird, a tree….anything but a student. Everyone around me seemed happy, tension free ….this feeling made me gloomy and sad.
How the guava tree in our kitchen garden became the shelter of many birds and squirrels! How a ripe guava squashed by its fall and immediately a bright Shalikh struck down at it, tore at its flesh and flew off with a lump in its beak. A green coloured parakeet selected a fleshy guava, sitting on a branch, amidst green leaves…..all scenario used to come in my notice on that morning .
The screams of squirrels were shrill, how they ran one after another; climbing the coconut tree, getting down speedily, their activities filled my mind with delight. Sometimes, a sudden quarrel broke out in the tree-tops, for a moment they all screamed and scolded. Sitting on my study table, my chin cupped in my hand, I used to observe nature attentively, having my book opened, untouched.
A pair of Bul-Buls quarrelled over a fruit till they fell in a flurry feathers to the ground, stirred up a frenzy of dust, then shot off in opposite directions, scolding till a sight of worm distracted them. I tried to remove my nervousness and concentrated on these soothing scenes. But the phobia was intense and I always failed to distract my mind.
(Mousumi Bhattacharjee, M.A., M. Phil in English Literature, writes in English and Bengali. She worked in various schools and colleges in India and abroad over past 25 years. She is a keen observer of nature and society, and loves to explore human psychological problems and relationships. She depicts them in her write- ups. Her short stories, articles and reviews have been published in various journals and magazines in India and abroad. ‘Behind the Darkness’, a collection of short stories, is her first published book. Recently her 'Gulabi Aporanho', a short story collection in Bengali, was published. The writer who is originally from Agartala in northeast India, has been living in Bengaluru)
August 17 2021