this ullu wants to be an owl

Last night, outside a friend’s house, an owl was stuck in a tree.

The boys playing volleyball on the street called the fire engine. The fire officers parked the engine outside the gate just as we drove in, and marched in purposefully ahead of us.

The owl hung like a bedraggled sepia tinted kite by the tip of its wing, a remnant from Uttarayana.

We did not stop to watch the rescue, certain the officers would accomplish it in a few minutes. The boys went back to their game of volleyball.

Later that night, as we drove back home, the owl was not there. I assume it took its rescue in a matter-of-fact manner, and without thanking the boys or the fire officers, or regretting those minutes of distress, went its way.

Ullus, on the other hand, take much pleasure in entanglement.

Boys playing volleyball would be rudely dismissed to mind their own business, shouted at for playing on the street. Fire officers would be treated with stony silence, disapproved of for not taking care of more important disasters. Curious passersby would get a taste of spit, venom or deadly smiles. A few may find some unbidden tears fall on their shoulders.

“How dare you rescue me?”, ullus say. “I am happy, I am fine, stuck in this tree.”

All my life, I have resisted advice. Teja on the other hand, asks too many people for their opinions. This used to irritate me. “Why do you give the impression to others that you don’t know anything?” Teja would answer mischievously, knowing I would be annoyed, “Research.”

That conversation is over now. The next time, I am stuck, you are welcome to come and untangle me.


  1. I love this post.
    Ullus and owls, i oscillate between the two, sometimes many times in a day. That is why, probably, i have a hard time figuring who i am and how i want to be saved.

    • Thanks, Kate. An ‘ullu’ is an owl in Hindi. It is used as a slang term for someone who is being stupid, dumb, idiotic.πŸ™‚

  2. Well written! And it makes us all smile because there is much truth in itπŸ™‚ I was a true ullu when I was a young woman – the worst of it is that even if you know you have made a terrible mistake, if you cant get out of it and wont get help, you get deeper and deeper into a mire of your own making. The first step may be unknowing…but later it is with knowledge of one’s own errors and thats the worst! I am much better with age at being an owl !

    • Suja, Yes, the worst is when you know, and yet persist in resisting help.πŸ™‚ I’m just beginning to learn to be an owl.

  3. Isn’t it amazing how the same bird has different attributes in English and Hindi?
    Like all of us, I am sometimes the ullu, sometimes the owl.
    Baaqi, given that it is meant to be the vaahana of Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth, I would love to have some ullus visist me, bearing their precious passenger, of course!

    • Oh Dipali, thanks for that information. I did not know that the owl was the vahana of Lakshmi. So yes, please some visits here would be welcome too.πŸ™‚

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