The universality of curse words may suggest that we aren’t too comfortable in our own skin. So many expletives seem rooted in human sexuality. Maybe, we don’t respect our bodies the way we ought to. Why else do we liken people to reproductive organs and expect them to be offended by such inane comparisons?
In fact, why are body parts even perceived as constituting to obscene language? Is the human anatomy so repulsive that the very mention of its most intimate parts insinuates emotions such as anger, disgust, and confusion?
I gather that we feel stressed over overpopulation too. It must be why we scream at each other to “go screw ourselves”. Clearly, we don’t mean – “go and touch yourself, intimately and quietly, in the corner”. But if not, what are we trying to say?
Why are we chivvying the legitimacy of our parents’ relationships by calling one another a “bastard”? How my father met my mother, and what they did in the privacy of their bedroom is nobody’s business but theirs.
We forget that swearing without referring to the human body lends itself to a more discovery-led artistic process. Just the other day, I came across a lovely word – “palooka“. It refers to a dim-witted and uncouth boxer.
I wonder if birds use explicit language to respond to certain situations. Do they resort to crooning obscenities to chase away predators and birders? Probably not. But the Common Hawk Cuckoo (Brainfever bird) has me second guessing, at times.
It has approached me before, flared up, like a Puffer Fish with wings. And every single time it felt as though the cuckoo was swearing at me. It wasn’t their regular three-note calls either. A lot more acerbic than that.
It could be that I have a knack of getting close to their nests. Or Common Hawk Cuckoos have serious issues with personal spaces (as they should).
There is also a chance that I could be crazy.
But maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that it has been asking me to get lost in the most melodious way possible. In that case, I shouldn’t go around disturbing them and being a palooka about it.
She arches her back,
lying down, and wriggles
her toes, murmuring
to the cracks in the ceiling
in foreign tongues; her fingers
skid across a place of birth,
circling the curves for passages
of light, that detach her womb
from the salt of the earth.
(Photographs – Vedanthangal – Chennai, Munnar, Idukki, and Nellore)