The Peacock named Pataudi

a poem by Rita Joyce Singh, India


At the edge of Shaan-e-Oudhi forest,
In the clearing of a hummock like crest.

A barren patch served as a cricket pitch,
Boys playing there yelled out names. You know which?

Border, Vaughan, Vivian and the great Don
Sachin, Dhoni, Imran, Flintoff and Warne.

Each boy, a cricket buff, followed strict rules,
Chiefly, bunking tuitions and their schools.

On a partly rainy, part windy day,
Dampness slowed the runs,getting in the way.

A wet ball, off the bat, struck a neem branch,
A ruffled peacock, swirled in feathered launch.

When it descended, it looked amazing,
Plumes of irridescent colours blazing.

It hopped to the fallen ball and pecked it,
Ripped the seams(ball tampering),threadbared it.

The surprised boys when the ball was retrieved,
Learned how proud peacocks could also be grieved.

This bird they all agreed was not, birdbrains,
Befriending it, they fed it toasted grains.

Cricket continued and the 'mascot' hopped,
Taking short flights to where the ball had stopped.

Majestic bird, national heritage,
Much of regal mien, strutting centrestage.

Named after the most royal Pataudi,
Prince, of neem-forest of Shaan-e-Oudhi.

On a partly cloudy, part sunny day,
Poachers grabbed it and nearly got away.

But the boys jumped, hearing plaintive bird-cries,
Scuffle, screams, and fisticuffs rent the skies.

Bats and wickets met with each poacher's head,
Giving chase to one while, the other fled.

Full, ten tail plumes were decamped with sadly,
The prince was blinded in one eye, badly.

The bird breathing, but the head slung meekly,
Each week, in turns, the boys nursed him gently.

Cricket resumed and soon the prince was back,
Except, now, he looked like a one eyed jack.

His tail fan, like arms, opened either side,
One eyed, he could neither search ball nor guide.

But, when any bowler bowled off centre,
Obstructing, mid-pitch he'd screech and venture.

And, flail his bifurcated fan at all,
Umpire's famed gesture, a wide, wide ball.

Think this was incredulous or unheard?
See, the peacock is a very proud bird.

Quite clever really, not a nitwit,
Pride wills him perforce to do, his own bit.

There are good rules in that book of Wisden,
Rules of life teach 'live and let live' wisdom.

These truant boys played a gentleman's game,
On field, off, fair play, fight, was all the same.

The boys are grown and gone their own ways,
Still, I see on my walks, on dappled days,

Peachicks pecking lost golf balls, a peahen,
And, on that neem tree, 'Pat', perched there often.

Note: edited for corrections.

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