Story about the OWLS.
(Scavenger Hunt prompt by Leah Steichen Mooney)
My grandmother was a wise lady. I know that because my father respected her a lot, and every morning he would bend down to touch her feet, asking for blessings. Every single morning! …
She sat in one of the corners of the drawing room and would see the birds in the aviary just outside the window. She would tell me about the different birds, which included the doves, love birds, mynahs, bulbul, koel and many others. She would know the warble and cry of each bird, and would tell the domestic help to take care of the birds just by hearing the difference in the tone of their cry.
One day I asked her about the spotted owl I had seen lurking in the mango groves on the estate. Her brow creased with concern and said, “chee, chee, chee. There won’t be owls on this part of our estate. You didn’t see any owl. You must have imagined!”
“I did see an owl. It had two huge eyes, and it was full of feathers and it had a short beak,” I said.
She made Fatima the maid come and take me away, told her to get me cleaned, wash my hair, and let frankincense through my hair as she dried my hair. Then she read verses from the holy book and smothered my entire body with her hands. I asked her what she was doing, and she replied, “Owls are a bad omen. They only live in deserted and desolate areas. The hoot of an owl is a harbinger of bad things to come. Therefore I asked that you be cleansed of the vision and that owl, if there was such a thing as an owl living on these grounds!”
My grandmother lived for more than eighty years, I grew up in the same house along with my siblings. The homestead still stands there, though it houses Government offices in it, and when mother passed on, the plantation was divided among the servants who had served the family for so many decades.
I came away to this country, and heard every one oohing and aah-ing about the wise owls and how beautiful they look. But even today, when I see an owl and or hear it hoot or screech, I get a shiver down my spine, and immediately say a few prayers to ward off any evil that might befall us.