A common and favourite theme for me in my photographs is that of Mother and children. Well, not of the human variety, but from the forests. I am fortunate to have a loving family and parents, and I guess that image is what is reflecting through my photographs. I have been lucky enough to get a few opportunities in the wild to photograph these beautiful moments. I always say a silent prayer just before setting out on a trip, hoping I’ll get to photograph at least one mother and child. I haven’t been as lucky as I would have wanted, but I am not complaining either! The Maternal Instinct, in my opinion is one of the strongest forces in the world. The first story that comes to mind is the Story of the brave Milk maid Hirakani and Shivaji Maharaj. (thanks to Amar Chirta Katha when I was growing up)
Hirakani was trapped inside the fortress, because the gates had been shut, and by the royal decree, would not be opened till sunrise. She had to get out to her baby in the village below. She scaled the walls, and climbed down to the foothills, going down a vertical drop of over 2700 meters, so that she could go home to her baby to feed him.
Quoting a Marathi poem
And as she strolled around inside the gigantic fort
Tired and desperate, found a last resort
She found the vertical drop of the hill lacking a fence
Without a slightest fear of death to sense
The mother in her drove away her helplessness
Hiding her milk pots there and she slid/ clung/ down the dizzy ravine
She plunged in through the unknown path and way
where bravest of the men would not travel in day
The thorny bushes scratched her clothes, limbs and face
As she struggled to reach home to feed her child in grace
No danger could have stopped her that night
A mother turned ferocious for a glimpse of her baby’s sight
She reached home and kissed her child passionately
Fed him, touched him and caressed him happily.
Shivaji strengthened that side of the fort, (the eastern side if memory serves me correct) and named it Hirakani Burj, and it still stands today, a long lasting testament to Mother’s love!
As someone who loves wildlife and spends a lot of time in the wild, I have had ample opportunities to see such instances, both in person and on video. I have seen a video shot by a friend of a Sambar Mother with her fawn cornered in a pond by a pack of about 10 Dholes (Wild Dogs). She stands facing these ferocious and hungry pack, thwarting any attack from any side from the pack and an hour later, exhausted, she emerged triumphant, with the pack beating a retreat. You can see an edited version of the video here, shot on location by a friend Jayanth Sharma. I have seen in person, a pair of Plum headed parakeets, chase away a mighty Black Kite on one of my trips to the jungles. They perceived the Black Kite sitting on an adjacent tree to be a threat to their nestlings and they didn’t hesitate for even a minute to attack the bigger bird. The Mother led the attack!
Many such instances can be recounted both from human and natural history. Part of what
we are, is because of that strong force – the maternal love that we have gotten from our Mothers. Her offspring, are a part of her, she has carried them in her, nurtured them, undergone pain in delivering them, and she is definitely going to stand up to any force, however stronger or greater than her, to protect and nurture what she still considers a part of herself.
Which, on another note, is also reason why, Mothers never get over the death of an offspring, where as Siblings and Fathers in most cases manage at least to cope with it! Believe me, I know!
EXIF Data For the pictures in the post:
- The Bonnet Macaque : Olympus E500 | Zuiko 40-140 @ 128 mm | f 4.3 | 1/500 Sec | ISO 125 | Sunset Mode | ev comp 0 | Handheld | White Balance – Auto | Metering – Pattern | Basic PP on LR3
- The African Elephant: Olympus E30 | Sigma 50-500 mm @84mm | f 16 | 1/125Sec | ISO 160 | Shutter Priority | ev comp -0.3 EV | Handheld | White Balance – Manual | Metering – Center Weighted Average | Basic PP & Conversion to Monotone in LR3
- The Plains Zebra: Olympus E30 | Sigma 50-500 mm @390mm | f 9.0 | 1/1250Sec | ISO 200 | Aperture Priority | ev comp -1.0 EV | Handheld | White Balance – Manual | Metering – Pattern | Basic PP , increased Black Levels in LR3