She’s a peach
more than she is a promise,
a pickle jar of a person
and a pretty postcard
to old wounds; she’s a tulip
in search of the wind, a tiny dancer
waiting for a special tune.
I read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I was about 12 years old. I found it both frightening and fascinating. Especially when Willy Wonka describes to Veruca Salt how whipped cream is made. He goes on to say, “whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all unless it’s been whipped with whips…everybody knows that”.
I was disturbed by the vivid picture it conjured in my head. A dingy slaughterhouse with crumbling walls. There were Oompa Loompas holding dirty leather straps. The thick air stank of blood-curdling moos. Little did I know the steak dinners that made up my diet back then came from even crueler and far more capitalistic sources.
I thought about it when I first spotted the Vernal Hanging Parrots (Indian Hanging Lorikeets) in the Upper Palani region. I was befuddled that they didn’t live up to their names. They weren’t roosting by hanging upside down from branches. They were perched on it. One of them was even asleep. In an upright position! I felt a tad scandalized.
I wanted to ask them, “I know we haven’t met before, but can you still be a Vernal Hanging Parrot even if you aren’t really hanging from anything in particular?” They flew away quickly and left me with no easy guesses.
But they haven’t disappointed ever since. Every other time I saw them – at least one of them was upside down. They look like wild flowers with wings. And when I see them draw nectar from actual flowers, I have to sit down for a few seconds. Or else my heads starts to spin. It’s too beautiful of a visual for the knees to stay strong.
I have also seen many fast asleep during late mornings. I assumed they must be slackers of the bird kingdom. Or emo rock bands of the wild. And band practice never starts until the sun goes down. Apparently there is another theory. Vernal Hanging Parrots are rumoured to raid toddy (palm-based liquor) pots in urban settlements and end up drunk in the wild.
Even if this is never documented, we should still consider pitching for a name-change. “Hanging” doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
I vote for Vernal Just Chilling Out For Whatever Reason Parrots.
(Photographs – Kodaikanal, Palani, Munnar, Kumily)