Few are upfront and honest about their opinions. We live in such sensitive times. Political correctness is the opium of the masses. Unless you punch me in the face, it is likely that I will not be completely honest with you. Only emotions such as pain, fear, and anger drive me to communicate with you – without a filter. When I am outside my comfort zone.
Through birding, I realized that excitement is another such emotion. It seems to bring out my inner child. My inner daddy cool. The creepy Dadaist uncle too.
For instance, whenever I see the Plum-Headed Parakeet, the earth’s volume is turned down for a few seconds. Everything moves in slow-motion. The sunlight, even if physically absent, feels spiritually intense. And I am overcome with this urge to swallow its plum-colored head.
No, I don’t want to eat it. My attraction for birds hasn’t turned into bestiality either. It’s just that I am unsure how to express myself at that moment. I want to say and do things, but I don’t know where to start. I end up reverse high-fiving the wind or pulling my hair forward and staring, bug-eyed, at the parakeets. Or nurturing a strange urge to put their heads inside my mouth for a few seconds.
I doubt if it will ever come to that. It sounds so wrong.
It will also be very hard to explain it to people, much less – the parakeets.
The Plum-Headed Parakeet is endemic to parts of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan. I have spotted it many times in the foothills of Valparai, Thekkady, and Thattekad.
I first spotted one, about 2 years ago, near the Chalakuddy forest check post. I was stalking a fruiting tree which had an eclectic bunch over for breakfast that morning. There were Black Drongos, Hill Mynahs, Golden Orioles, Black-Hooded Orioles, White-Cheeked Barbets and Malabar Parakeets.
When the plum-headed one arrived, the rest turned into silhouettes. And I made a face. It was as though I seen something unfathomably beautiful just as I had stepped into a prickly cactus plant. Even the gorgeous Flame-Throated Bulbul couldn’t hijack my attention away from it.
Suddenly, it hit me – like a ton of petals gently thrown from above.
I was so excited that I felt like swallowing its head. I would be smiling, with a single tear trailing my left cheekbone, as I let go of it eventually – with quivering lips.
I don’t have an explanation for the thought process. At least, not one agreed upon and signed off by my head and my heart. And I do realize that all this may sound very strange to you.
What can I say, to make things less weird between us?
More importantly, what do I tell the parakeets?
I find a home
in the lilac parts
of her third-degree burns,
tongue my secrets
inside her earlobes,
and climb her heaving skin,
stitched in melted apricots, with
my teeth, and feel her breath
upon mine until the air
that separates us
tastes like stolen cheese.
(Photographs – Valparai)