I see Rose-Ringed Parakeets every day. When I am home, I hear them making a beautiful racket outside. They frequent the guava trees in my neighborhood. I go to the terrace to marvel at how gracefully they concoct their bodies to reach for the fruits.
On my way to work, I spot them atop open stumps of dead coconut trees. For a few seconds, I admire their tomato-red beaks. The leafy texture of their tail-feathers. Beady eyes that resemble oil-soaked basil seeds.
Sometimes, I daydream about them too. A sky filled with parakeets. Soaring, like flowering plants with wings, they green-wash the clouds.
Tragically, the Rose-Ringed Parakeet population is on the decline. They are still caught and sold as pets. Like some arranged marriages, it is a traditional practice in India that brushes aside evil practices in favor of superficial joys. Many are unaware that it is against the law to own a Rose-Ringed Parakeet as a pet in India. As illegal as it is to own a tiger or a crocodile. Unless you are taking care of one because of some injury it has sustained.
There’s a popular film song in southern India about how we admire only what we can control. “Kuyila pudichi koondil adachi koova sollugira ulagam“ (“We live in a world where birds are trapped inside cages and asked to sing”).
I don’t understand why people have pets. Even if it is a creature bred specifically for commercial purposes. I find it a little depressing. Whether African Greys or Rose-Ringed Parakeets, its only purpose is to bring joy to the owner. Love is being trafficked. And we are willing to pay a premium price for it.
Even the cruelest of days
can be tamed, not with whips
but dancing shoes, fox-trotting
over parrot- green dunes,
scavenging the earth for childish clues
to kiss the moon on the driest parts
of her salty milk lips.
(Photographs: Chennai, Vedanthangal and Pulicat)