There are still a few months left for birding season to begin. And I can’t wait for the rains to go away. So that migratory birds will visit me from all over the world. Because they will make me happy. I may even tap the shoulders of strangers to tell them about it. If they ignore me, I may grab one by the collar and repeat myself in a creepier voice.
While being dragged into a police van, charged for public nuisance, I will clasp the hands of officers and proclaim, “But sir, I am happy”. They won’t understand, though. There is a good chance that I will be beaten up first, and prosecuted later. But that’s fine. Happiness works in mysterious ways. One moment I feel good, and the next – I am a bloody mess.
It is a bewildering emotion to sustain. It’s though I am holding the burning wick of a candle to seek shelter from the cold. I ought to control its flame with deep breathing techniques. Give it the strength it needs to sustain a lasting fire. Because only then will I feel safe and warm around it.
Happiness can be my golden goose if I don’t let instant gratification get in the way. I should feed it, not go after it with a butcher’s knife.
But it’s easier said than done. I go all out whenever I feel happy about something. I nosedive into the heart of it. Find every morsel of happiness to gobble up. Suck the night dry of its poetry, and the day of its dreams. I set myself up for disappointment.
And I turn into a starved wolverine lost in a salad bar. Angry, confused and disappointed. With a mouthful of soggy lettuce. There’s sour cream on my nose. It’s embarrassing too since I have to try and walk out with some semblance of dignity and hope.
Come November, I hope I get overexcited about the birding season. So what if the oldest bird sanctuary in India turns into a paradise for winged visitors? Does it matter so much that I will be a night’s bus ride away from spotting some of the most exotic species in India? Also, the Great Indian Hornbills will return to their nesting areas from earlier in the year.
But really, so what?
I shouldn’t obsess about their arrival so much, right? They will be leaving by next summer, anyway. What then? It is going to hurt yet again.
Having said that, I doubt if I can control myself. I don’t even know if I want to. Because happiness is like a golden wolverine that lays calcium-coated eggs. Most of the time, I want to look at it and scream, exasperatedly, “What are you, some kind of fucked up platypus?”
But sometimes, I want to hold onto it so tightly that one of us can’t breathe anymore.
A fire doesn’t burn inside you,
but there’s a circuit breaker
in your coffee machine.
Your pens are plastic swords
and your words – ghostly marbles,
rolling down empty roads.
A fire doesn’t rage inside you,
but there’s electricity you paid for.
(Photographs: Chennai, Kanchipuram, Munnar, Thekkady & Valparai)