by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa
There is a mocking bird at the Harimander Sahib in Amritsar with the most sophisticated warble I have ever heard. She flies to the top of the Temple in the early morning sun, and sings her heart. It’s a scale – not major, not minor, but an imitation of a scale that a Raagi might sing at the start of his Kirtan. So perfectly on pitch. So subtly in-tune – the notes sung in half or even quarter steps. She sings it so quickly – up and down, up and down the range. In imitation of what she hears around her.
It’s one of those moments for me, sitting on the roof of the Harimander Sahib, the fall sun warming the air, that seems almost miraculous. For here is a bird that has a musical talent and accomplishment many humans could never aspire to. There are mockingbirds in Houston, too, and I remember them fondly – the way they would imitate the scratchy caa-caw of a grakle, or the shrill warning of a jay. But to find a soul in the form of a bird practicing raag in the morning light of the Golden Temple – well, one must consider it a very blessed little life.