Here in coastal Kerala, late evenings are played out against a gentle orchestra of cicadas, while night is punctuated by pye-dogs‘ alternating howls and barks. The cries soon summon restless answer from their housebound cousins. And, lest tedium ensue, variety is on-hand from rapturous choirs of toads.
Inside the house, mosquitos’ persistent drones buzz the ears of those who risk sleep without fan or nets.
But, well before the sun’s first gleaming and muezzin’s call to prayers, neighbouring roosters arise en masse, in boisterous anticipation of the day.
Our new lodger presumably escaped from one such neighbour’s clutch. Though, no sooner had our guesting hen settled and laid than Shaji, Dalila and Anu bought wheat grain to enhance her feed, and sat in conference to plan her continued well-being. Chickens are social animals and apt to pine if kept alone. It seems that acquiring company for our paying guest is to be Shaji’s new project.
Hens are thought to have been first domesticated in either India or China, maybe almost ten thousand years ago. Their original appeal to humans lay in cockfighting. Notions of eggs fried “sunny-side up” or chicken tikka masala, came considerably later.
I receive frequent visits from welcome but unexpected guests:
sparrows who fly in from the yard.
Like most Indian homes, during daylight hours I usually keep the yard gates closed but the house doors wide open.
The birds would previously fly in and out through the ventilation gaps in our coving.
But, since moving in, I have had these gaps meshed, to keep the mosquitoes out.
The birds, like everyone else, now have to use the main doors,
though they still check-out their old access-points.
The house suddenly sparkles with the chatter of young people.
Good friends of my eldest son and daughter-in-law are staying for three weeks.
The peals of laughter and language which drift through the halls once more, are coloured in very English tones.
Pictures taken in my upstairs hall. (The first floor in British English, second floor in American English)