Icould hear the sound of baby squirrels plain and clear. When I discovered that they were orphaned, I wrapped them in a cotton cloth. They were only two weeks old and showed symptoms of dehydration. I warmed up some milk and fed them. It took the siblings a week to adapt to their new environment. After every feeding, I wrapped them in cotton and put them to sleep. As the days passed, they recovered and their fur turned a healthy golden brown.

During this stage, I noticed a reddish wound on the male squirrel. He had started losing his appetite and becoming weightless as a feather. I could sense the throbbing pain. Yet, his little face showed patience and courage as I tried various remedies. I contacted Dr Saru Priya of the Arignar Anna Zoological Park through Facebook and she prescribed an ointment for the wound. The healing from that point was miraculous – he began to stand up on his hind legs and hold the food (mashed bananas with milk and honey) with his hands. They were confined to my room most of the time and also had a small cage to recover in. I was ready to acclimate them to the outdoors very soon.

One morning, I’d gone out, leaving the cage open and came back to find it empty. I rushed out to look for them only to find them frolicking merrily in a nearby coconut tree. I was concerned about how I was going to feed them, when I noticed they were already feeding in their natural habitat.

I had not grasped the fact that they were already independent and ready to handle the world on their own. Mothers never really notice that their children are growing up – they only see them as ‘big’ babies – and yes, now I realise I’m one of them.

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(The author is an agricultural scientist based in Varanasi)