Old habits die hard and the habits formed during your childhood never die at all! This great truth has dawned upon me when I saw a single black bird. Instinctively I started searching for a black dog as a remedy to forestall the tiding of a bad news as sighting a single black bird always foretold bad luck. We chanted religiously the rhyme during our childhood and believed in it from the core of our heart:
One for sorrow Two for joy. Three for letter, Four for boy. Five for money, Six for wealth….. I hope someone would complete the poem for me or correct it if it is wrong. Even today when my glance falls on a single, seemingly harmless, black bird my fingers automatically cross over one another and my eyes start searching either for a Red Cross sign or a black dog! 🙂 Interesting isn’t it? During our school days if and when we would sight a single black bird( in facts the birds were brown with a sprinkling of black at some parts) it would be plane disastrous for our little hearts! And the antidote was to cross your finger and wait for some good sign so that you could uncross your fingers. I would search for sign of Red Cross and would wait for ambulance vehicle to ply on the Mall road so that I could uncross my tiny fingers which would become numb of the awkward position they were in!
It would be funny to watch many of our class fellows with crossed fingers waiting for the right antidote. Another antidote to fix the problem was to see a black dog. And if by chance anyone would sight a black dog the girl would shout at the top of her voice and all of us would rush to have a sight of the much awaited relief. Oh my God what a relief it would be to my tiny thin fingers. Even now I can feel and enjoy the sense of relief that I would feel!
And when one would sight a pair of black-brown birds, it would portend joys and happiness! How we would shout with happiness when we sighted “Two for Joy” and would seek some wish fulfillment and believed sincerely that the wish would be fulfilled. How small were our wishes at that time. “I may get good marks” or “Amma may allow me to play for more time” or “the teacher may not punish me as I had not put blue ribbon in my hair”! The list was simple but long and “Two for Joy” was a panacea for all the ills!
“Three for letter” would make me wait for the postman to bring a letter, any letter for that matter. And I would look expectantly at his Khaki bag to bring out a letter for me. What kind of letters would I wait for? We had simple life and simpler demands. The chewing gum that we enjoyed would have some stickers inside it and we would go on collecting them till we would come across the lucky mast which when posted to the address of Chewing Gum supplier would get an album through post where we would stick all those stickers thus collected. Such albums would be a craze and a precious treasure along with giving us edge over others in General Knowledge! 🙂 I would wait for the lucky mast to unfold in my chewing gum so that I could get the promised album through post! Such was my small simple world and its demands and desires!
But when it came to “Four for boy”, all the girls would open their mouth with a longish howwwwwwwwwwww and put their hand on the mouth in a shyful manner though with a twinkle in eyes! “Four for boys” would be a special prerogative for the pretty girls of the class who would get an admiring look from some boys of the local schools! And I, the ugly and the reed thin girl, would observe all such developments very keenly! We would discuss which boy has interest in which girl and who is always nearby at the time of school closing. Which group of boys would follow, keeping a safe distance, which group of girls! It would be talk of the class during the free periods! The black birds “Four for boy” would again get credit for this development! How I would wait to sight four black birds together but it seemed as if two or three of them would fly off whenever I would put my eyes toward them. It seemed such a loss at that point in time and today I can laugh about it heartily.
“Five for money” would not result in much return as money was not something which we would get easily during our childhood. I would wait for some guest to drop in at our home fro staying for the night and would be so happy as the guest would surely put some money, may be a rupee, in the hands of the kids as a good will gesture. I would roam and skirt around such a guest and would be within his/her reach especially when it would be time for the person to leave. I didn’t want to miss the momentous occasion for any matter.And if I was lucky to have some money the three black birds that I must have seen sometime would get all the credit for it!
Whatever may have been the belief system that we catered to but it was much relief to sight “Two for joy” and when I saw a pair of black birds in my neighbouthood I could not stop myself from crying in relief “Two for Joy”!