About a month ago I noticed a small, empty nest in the one of the branches of the hibiscus plant outside our bedroom window. I do not know when the nest was built, we were so busy with our lives. The nest looked so much a part of the plant.
I was reminded of this quote by Robert Lynd, ‘There is nothing in which birds differ more from man than the way in which they build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.’
Today the nest is no more a nest, what belonged to that little bird is no more. Just individual sticks and leaves remain . The bird will build a nest somewhere else. Looking at them I was thinking of all those things we collect and keep with us. We want something or someone to belong to us. That is human nature. We cannot be like birds, we need something more permanent in life.
But there are countless people who are displaced from one place to another and for whom violence is a part of their lives. Most of us want security and we cannot really say whether that belongs to them. We think so much about our belongings but when we are no more I wonder what will happen to them? It does not really matter because we will not be there. But still the question comes to mind.
I am reading a book called ‘ASHOKA in Ancient India’ by Nayanjot Lahiri. Ashoka lived more than 2000 years ago. His stone edicts still survive. What was his is still there. It helps us to understand a little about life in those long ago days.
When I think of belongings I think of my grandfather. My grandmother had passed away in 1943. He passed away in 1980. He had been a teacher all his life. After retiring as headmaster of the Government High School in Hospet, he lived with my father’s elder brother and family and with us. All his worldly belongings were kept in one small trunk and a cotton bag. No worldly belongings as such but he left behind something very precious. He gave his children education and helped many others to go to school and get a higher education. That was his legacy to that generation, the next generation and the next. It will continue. What belonged to him is being passed on.