Scaly-Breasted Munias, like many other finches, are prostituted into the pet trade business. I’m not surprised that people are illegally selling them. I know the kind of things that people are willing to do for money. We all do. It’s why the seller doesn’t bother me as much as the buyer does in this business.
I wonder how anyone can find love in a caged bird. Do they find perverse pleasure in clipping its wings? How can they romanticize slavery because it involves creatures that don’t speak our language of pain? Is it a manifestation of their messiah complexes?
I am unsure what to think. All I know is that Illaiyaraja, a legendary musician, wrote a beautiful Tamizh song about this sick fetish of ours.
Scaly-Breasted Munias are as adorable as gregarious birds can be. It is why they are hot commodities. To see these Munias in the wild is something else. They are like tiny vaudevillians zinging by, in flocks, practicing complex dance manoeuvres.
Draped in gorgeous brown cloaks, they have conical beaks larger than gravity might seem to accommodate. The undersides of their white bellies have haunting black scales painted on them. Peter Gabriel ought to write a song about them.
I once saw two near the Pulicat Lake in a lover’s quarrel. One was holding a long blade of grass. The wind was making him sway more than he ought to. The other was chirping orders at him, telling him to quit being an idiot and go for a smaller one.
He eventually did. She looked happy about it. They flew away together. So happy together.
A small part of me wished they weren’t this cute.
There is something
about the way she bends
before she is supposed to break,
a drunkenness of the soul,
splattered all over her clothes,
that has the rest of us,
spellbound and awake.
(Photographs: Vedanthangal, Pulicat, Ponneri, Nellore)