The sweet sound of cuckoos is becoming clearer by the day, ordering all to “make more pekoe”.
During the onset of second flush, during the everyday pressures of the estate, we were pleasantly diverted when two healthy leopard cubs were found by the workers, on the Naholia Division.
Were they abandoned by a careless mother or was she in the process of shifting them, I wondered. Could the mother be the same leopard that I had seen, not very far from the bungalow? It was only last year that I had observed this beauty at very close quarters. In the fading evening light, she was a distant smudge but as I drove closer, I automatically froze. She was a full-grown leopard, alert, poised and unfazed by my presence. I didn’t dare take a photograph, she was too close for comfort. But maybe to reassure me that I wasn’t dreaming, she had left deep pug marks that I saw when I went back the next day.
So, when news of the cubs reached me, I said, Okay, two more mouths to feed, so what if they belong to the wild cat family…Burra Sahibs are known for their large hearts. Defying all logic, I decided to take care of the helpless, hungry waifs. My husband, Rajiv, more rational than I, was trying to find a solution to the problem. In no time, forest officials and the police arrived, along with curious onlookers. The cubs didn’t seem to mind the attention or the crowd.
In an attempt to reunite the family and as advised by the authority, the cubs were smeared with cow dung slurry to disguise the human smell and were placed back exactly where they were found. We fervently hoped that the mother would come back for them. It turned out to be a long, rainy and dark night.
The next morning, we were immensely relieved the next morning to find that there were no sign of the cubs, presumably safely taken away by the mother, who left fresh pug marks as if to assure us of that. I believe that it was her way of thanking all. The perfunctory call to the authorities were made stating the development and thus normalcy returned……plucking resumed…..work pressure on…….and the relentless cuckoo orders….“make more pekoe”.
PS: The cubs were spotted again in the estate. They look healthy and have grown considerably since their little adventure.