Bengaluru: Feeding pigeons, sparrows, stray dogs and cats are a common sight. They are a noble gesture by generous humans, no doubt about it. But, a 55 year old lady who feeds hungry hawks every day has been doing this religiously for around 20 years. By around 8 every morning, this street in BTM layout gets a bit darker. Hawks and eagles fly from all over and cover the sky above almost blocking the light and land on roofs of every building around. They eagerly wait for Merlyn who comes with a huge bag full of their favorite food for breakfast, head and feet of chicken.
Merlyn has made friends with all the chicken stalls in the area who save the disposable parts of the chicken for her to collect. She visits each shop with a large bag and fills them. She then takes it home and boils it well so that they become a bit softer and get rid of any harmful infection they might be carrying. She then refills her bag with the boiled stuff and starts walking towards this street.
There is a fixed spot in front of a house where she empties her bag, and now the show begins. One after the other, the mighty birds glide towards the heap, pick a piece of meat and fly away within the blink of an eye. The sight of the birds feeding neatly on the heap of meat without creating any mess is definitely mesmerizing.
After the birds are done, Merlyn walks a few more steps ahead to the stray dogs who wait wagging their tails. She feeds them bread and biscuits and any remaining pieces of meat. She speaks to the strays as if they were waiting for her company. All this takes around an hour and then she silently walks away with a wide smile on her face.
Doing all this hasn’t been easy for Merlyn. Few people tried shooing her away as well and she had heated arguments with them almost every day. But few others like Kishore and family, stepped up for her.
“She has been doing this for over 20 years and we have been watching how patiently she does all of it. The least we can do to help is by lending a little space for an hour” says Kishore. The family invited her to use their portico which is a feeding space for the birds since a year now.
Merlyn lives with her college going daughter in a nearby area. Her husband, working in Gulf, sends them money regularly. After managing their expenses, they keep a share of the amount to feed the strays. Merlyn hasn’t travelled anywhere is past 20 years. She says she can’t afford to let these creatures starve and leave peacefully. It’s a common sight in Bengaluru of eagles scavenging through garbage for a morsel or two. Merlyn felt sorry for the plight of these creatures and started feeding them.
On asking how does she feel about feeding hawks, “Do you know how BTM layout has changed over the years? Earlier it was a forbidden and unsafe area. Now, look how well the entire area has developed with multiple businesses and IT companies sprung up all over. The development of this area is because of the blessings of God through these creatures. There is nothing that a pure blessing can’t fulfil”, says Merlyn as she walks away with a broad smile on her face, as always.