Raising Annu


We were in Kerala and it had been two weeks since Grandfather had passed away. My sisters Ann and Merin, our cousins Diya and Dean, and I were all playing cricket in the yard. I heard cries of all sorts of birds as they went back to their nests for the night. I heard a squirrel crying continuously and went around searching as the others in my team were batting. I found nothing but the cries continued. Later, after our cousins left we again started searching. Merin identified the cries to be coming from the hen coop. We searched the hen coop but found nothing at first. We were about to give up when I sensed a movement from the corner and we found a baby squirrel that was trying to creep. It had started getting dark and I had no option but to take him home.

He was the cutest little creature I had ever seen. From our previous experiences, we knew that we had to keep him warm. We found Grandfather’s crystal-filled shoulder pack which had to be heated in water to warm it. Grandma found a nice box and some clothes and we made a nice home for him. That night I stayed awake late until midnight learning instructions through the phone from my parents who were in Bangalore. From the next day itself he started responding to us. From then on, he was a 100% consolation to us and he kept us occupied during those sorrowful days. Ann and I would stay awake till midnight and Merin and I would wake up early in the morning.

I knew about Rehabber’s Den and used to crosscheck his growth every week with the rehabilitation protocol. Once he got dehydrated and I used small pinches of electoral rehydration powder to treat him. When he was fifteen days he opened one of his eyes, then slowly the other. Time went by and he grew up quickly. Annu also had to travel from dad’s place to mom’s place along with us and we sneaked him from Kerala to Bangalore in a bus. He soon started becoming very playful and refused to stay in a box anymore. We would pluck small branches from trees and keep them in his room. He used to play with a hat as if it were his enemy, running around biting on the edges of the hat and jumping furiously.

Weaning him was not really very tough but he had his favourites when it came to food – groundnuts, cashew nuts and apple. We started sending him out of the house for small durations of time when he was around two months old. He would come back running when we called him by tapping on the tree. Slowly let him out for longer durations but we always watched over him. I was never confident to leave him out alone. To keep him occupied I used to bring him branches, flowers and different nuts.

When he was four months old, he had already had a lot of experiences which included tearing the window net and running out by himself. I contacted Devna Didi when I didn’t know what to do. It was on her advice that I started sending him out of the house for longer hours during the day. He used to go in the mornings and come back at around six in the evening. This continued for a couple of weeks. One day he came back home with a little cut on his tail. It healed very well with the help of a little bit of Neosporin powder.

But one day he didn’t come back home. He was nearly six months old now and I’m hoping that he has found a home somewhere outside and he is on his own now… and also that I can see him somewhere once again, happily running up tree and back where he belongs.


- Helen Anna Neel

Class: 11th Standard

College: Christ Academy ICSE School, Bangalore, India


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