The most natural reaction would be to assume that the sparrows are still around. But they're almost not. March 20 is remembered as World Sparrow Day as sparrows - especially house sparrows - are declining everywhere
What happened? When did it happen? How did the charm of cheep-chirp leave our lives?
There are so many reasons: with insecticides being used everywhere, soft-bodied insects, the young sparrow's food, have disappeared. In our extreme manicuring tendencies for perfect, manufactured order, grass - which supports nesting material as well as insects - is being mowed too short in lawns. In residential facades, ledges, of no use to anyone but a little bird, have gone out of fashion and are being replaced by sleek modern buildings
Inside our houses, windows have been shut and ACs have been switched on. The oil paintings still hang, but there are no sparrows to flit behind the paintings. All over the world, there are assorted movements to bring house sparrows back. In some places, architects are leaving bricks missing, so sparrows can have a nesting place. In others, parts of gardens are being left wild, for grass, insects, and sparrows. In India, a massive movement to give sparrows a space in gardens, homes, and hearts, is ongoing.
Today, sadness washes over us for the sparrows. We hope they will come back
Once, they took over our kingdom - and our collective afternoons, so many vestiges of domestic existences. Today, we ask them, beg them, cajole them, to return. So many sparrows have been lost in the humdrum and banality of urban life. But what we have lost, in the companionship of a little, stubborn, brave bird, the "nanhi chidiya", is incalculable and perhaps much worse.
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