The south Indian princess of hill stations was kind to me this weekend. She scratched her armpits and set free many birds at the crack of dawn. They found shade under tea rose flowers. Some hurried in for the nectar and others waited for insects that lounged on moist petals.
Each one was a painting with songs for brushstrokes. A community gathering of those with the loveliest vests and softest falsettos. As the afternoon mist threatened to swallow us whole, they began to fly away. One by one – they disappeared like dewing lashes in the wind. It felt cruel and calculated. How the world takes away what we love the most after giving us a little taste of it.
I wanted more. Louder songs, longer tail-feathers and bigger crests. Go forth, birdies, and bring your friends. Make beautiful this sick planet of ours. Peck on the dry scabs and gouge out the disenfranchisement. The anger and the disgust. Like parasites, they worm through our ear-holes and eat through the walls in our bedrooms.
Get them out. Unleash the love. Let it hurt awhile. Rain down on me in one swooping motion. And then soar to teach me how all I ever needed to emerge from darkness was gravity. You have wings. I only have dreams. Please just come out and say hello.
Today though I feel greedy for having been distraught . I hadn’t realized that I was privy to two new sightings in Kodaikanal. A Tickell’s Leaf Warbler made a meal of a spider before it coolly perched upon a flower stem. And I was lucky enough to spot the globally-endangered White-Bellied Shortwing (White-bellied Blue Robin). Nigliri Flowerpeckers, Nigliri Laughingthrushes, Oriental White-Eyes and White-Cheeked Barbets were breakfasting a few meters from me. There were Spotted Doves, Red-Whiskered Bulbuls and Ashy Drongos dropping by too.
What more did I want? What else can we hope for to put any sort of negativity past us?
I am reminded of what Ford Prefect said about the art of flying – “the knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss”.
Perhaps we don’t have to take off from the same point over and over again.
The sun tickles the bosoms
of butterscotch birds
and pink flowers as
they slide my heartaches
down their throats.
(Photographs: Kodaikanal – Upper Lake, Vattakanal)