When we look for love
like children do for monsters
under their beds,
we let go of the wind,
wriggling free of our papier mâché wings.
There is logic in people pursuing monogamous relationships. We interpret love based on how it makes us feel about ourselves. If someone makes us feel good, why wouldn’t we want them by our side for the rest of our lives? Our long-term interests though aren’t invested in how we make the other person feel. We may be capable of incredible amounts of love but we keep most of it for ourselves, especially over a period of time.
Even if we see it slipping away in the other person, we still hold on to whatever remains inside. Some people just can’t handle solitude. For others – it is a matter of continuing their lineages. Many are just meekly in pursuit of contentment and successes as instructed by elders and peers.
We are self-preservationists by instinct, and easily mistaken for being selfish.
I am not cynical about monogamous love. I have seen many successful marriages and other long-term intimate relationships. A stirring sort of love, quaking even. Just not one that lends itself to much curiosity given how much is known about it. Debated upon, mulled over and fawned about. Erupting into prose, swimming through poetry and beautifully cursed as paintings.
Everybody loves. Okay thanks.
Comparatively, birds in monogamous relationships are fascinating case studies. How little we know about what goes on in their sweet little heads makes for more whimsical possibilities.
From the birds I have spotted, the Great Indian Hornbill stands out in the exclusive love it shows and seemingly has for the other. They are known to live in small groups of monogamous pairs. I was lucky enough to spot a couple in Valparai on two special occasions.
One was when they were wooing each other before breeding season began. The other, a few months later, saw the male diligently feed his mate as she was incubating their eggs. I felt an incredible love in them. Granted the way he fed her, one berry at a time, was quite the visual. But it was just a feeling I had, without truly understanding what was on display. I suppose it was the lack of drama that made them look like a truly happy couple.
Of course I was there just for a few hours. Also, it might be that Hornbills or any other birds feel about each other like many couples in our species do. We can’t really be sure. We barely understand our own.
All we can do is make assumptions based on studying their behaviour. I choose to believe that birds are capable of more love. It’s why they make the universe feel more like home to me. It’s why they have wings.
These photographs were shot by a friend and photographer – Anoop Valluthadam during the first trip, which turned out to be an emotional roller-coaster. I went solo the second time around to stalk and photograph them. They can be found in the below post.