Nursery Chip on the Sill
by Lakshmi Menon
Every morning in the past month, I have been waking up to the chirping of the baby squirrels, housed on my bedroom window. A few days ago, I had noticed a coconut-sized nest coming up near the half-open window between the mosquito shutter and the glass pane, at my second floor apartment. Though the cute little nest, made out of coir fibres and old cloth pieces, was attractive, I was tempted to remove it at once. I had even armed myself with a stick to push the nest off its moorings. Suddenly, the mother in me took charge and led me away from the temptation to destroy the nest.
I then considered the trouble the squirrel must have taken to build the nest. She must have been looking for a safe shelter to litter. Making the nest must have been a tough job, unlike destruction.
My patient wait for the babies' arrival began then. After few days I heard chirping noises from the nest and when I observed it I saw two baby squirrels inside, with half-opened eyes, as if winking at you. They were grey colored with stubby hair and white stripes on the back. The mother squirrel was away. I felt very glad for not having removed the nest.
Since then, every morning I spent some time watching them before going to the kitchen. I kept tabs on their growth just like as I had done with my own growing children. It was a rewarding experience. Every night the mother used to return with food for them. Since I would not be home during the day, I wouldn't know whether she used to visit her babies during day time to ensure that they were safe. The rice grains I used to leave there would be gone by the time I returned. So I supposed she did pay such visits.
My daughter, in the midst of her studies, found time to observe them. She enjoyed their presence and named them Chip and Dale. She had no other pets. So for her it was a wonderful diversion from studies.
As days passed, I was elated to see the baby squirrels playing all over the window. Luckily, there was no threat of crows or eagles harming them for their mother had chosen the site for the nest with great care. Our apartment had no resident cats.
Before retiring to bed, I could hear chirping too. Of course, it was a little irritating at times but I soon got used to. Often I would get up at night to ensure their safety. Soon we became quite friendly.
When Chip and Dale grew big enough to face the world alone, they too left the nest and their mother. The nest is empty now and so is a tiny corner of my heart.
(This article was published in Deccan Herald on 26.12.1998)