I miss movie montages in which protagonists beat insurmountable odds. The storyline progress at a breakneck speed. Pulsating synth-infused rock music erupts, without fair warning. Friends and well-wishers encourage and applaud. One of them will fist-pump the air, as squealing guitar sounds build to a crescendo.
Watch any movie starring Sylvester Stallone from the 70s or 80s. Halfway through them, his character skyrockets over one of his short-term goals. In Rocky I, II, III, and IV, he gets into shape for the big fight. Lock Up sees him build a car with prison inmates. In Cobra, an antisocial cop figures out the city’s psyche while a robot and a model get acquainted during a photo-shoot.
It is easy to mock them for being cheesy or just strange. Often, their inelegance is inconsolably consistent. But, imagine if we could use such time-warped narratives to deal with our own problems. How great would that be?
We would bypass some of our most arduous challenges in a matter of minutes. Can’t pay off your home loans? Relationship problems? Lost your car keys? Don’t worry. Ask someone to cue “Eye of the Tiger” and reach for the stars.
On the flip side, we hope for certain moments to last longer than usual. We ache for them to continue. It’s the theory of relativity. In my case, I would like to spend more time with the Common Hoopoes in Chennai. I wish that I could watch them flutter around every single day.
But it is a long drive from where I live, and the company I work for. Along the way, I would have to deal with traffic woes. And I wouldn’t find the time to spot the Hoopoes. Instead, I spend a few minutes with them, during weekends. But each time I see one, I yearn to stretch out the moment, like a child with a super elastic rubber band.
Last weekend, I spotted a Hoopoe in the residential locality of Thiruvanmyur. It was perched on a wire and looking at the vehicles that were passing by. I am quite sure that I was the only one there who had noticed it. I think the Hoopoe knew it too. As it turned its back to me, I noticed a heart-shaped white patch on its plumage. The feathers around it were in tatters.
It is likely that it had been in a fight. Some territorial dispute, maybe. Perhaps, a battle for the fattest and fastest grubs. We win some, we lose some. There’s no exception, irrespective of species. Even the luckiest among us can only have the tempestuous Midas touch.
At least, the Hoopoe didn’t need a movie montage to encapsulate how the heart-shaped scar it once bore had led it to some 35-year-old creep with a camera. In hindsight, the scar also looks like the head of a fox.
Moral of the story: Don’t look for life lessons in pre-1990 Sylvester Stallone movies.
“You will be alone. Upon retirement, you will take the long walk, which every judge takes, outside these city walls, into the cursed earth. There you will remain for the last of your days, alone and carrying the law. Class dismissed” – Judge Dredd (1995)
Today, a Hoopoe
as the wind has its way,
with the heart-shaped scar
that she wore
with pride, even the day
(Photographs / Video: Chennai)