I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I have finally spotted the fully white-morphed Asian Paradise Flycatcher. A mere week after the wild cat sighting, the flycatcher flew into the crooked window of my heart for the very first time.
During the Christmas weekend, while in Ponneri, I saw the flycatcher breakfasting on a large moth. It was a breathtaking sight. How beautifully its iridescent crest glistened. The whirling dervishes that were its milk-white tail-feathers. Unable to contain my emotions, I cried. Not in a way that makes passersby smile at how kind and wonderful this deranged blue planet can be. It was sort of awkward. Weird-sounding. There was definitely some reverse-blowdrying of the nose. I had been waiting for the moment since 2013, after all.
On January 2, though, bad news arrived. I was diagnosed with a disc prolapse in my lower back. And it had struck a nerve that is connected to my left leg. There isn’t a cure for the condition. However, with the right treatment, I may be able to return to my routines.
When the pain escalated three weeks ago, I felt very sorry for myself. I thought that the timing was terrible. And I just couldn’t bring myself to accept the repercussions. For the next few months, at least, I will be unable to go bird-watching; at least, not without extreme discomfort. Sitting down to write is no walk in the park either. Unless the park was in Beirut. During wartime. And I wore a neon signboard around my neck that read “I dare you to shoot me”.
Nights are problematic too. At times, I wake up during odd hours, mouthing expletives and grabbing my shin. It is as though a tiny person is stabbing the inside of my left thigh and the lower portion of my spine – with a blunt yet narrow object.
This week, though, I have felt relatively calmer about the situation.
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"#Paradise was always over there, a day’s sail away. But it’s a funny thing, escapism. You can go far and wide and you can keep moving on and on through places and years, but you never escape your own life" #AsianParadiseFlycatcher #birdsofindiansubcontinent #birdvideos #Chennai
It is because I have since realized that whatever happened to me isn’t an anomaly. Millions are affected by cataclysmic events every single day. Our existence can be measured by simplistic bar graphs. A series of ups and downs, like hilly landscapes; some leave lasting impressions while others are transient by nature.
But it is impossible to foresee future trends based on historical patterns. Even if you take a chance and swear by probabilities, life may not work out the way you expect it to.
I suppose that things could have been worse. I could have been diagnosed with something more damaging. Or perhaps, I could have been one of those annoying people who relied on celebrity quotations such as “Pain nourishes your courage” to feel better about the situation. Or I could have started the car a few seconds earlier / later, and missed out on ever spotting the flycatcher.
But the fact remains I saw it before all this happened. And that will keep me going until I can go birdwatching again. Because like someone once said, it is better to “turn your wounds into wisdom”.
Well, here’s to hoping that each of you had a better start to the year.
prince of flycatchers,
for the milky-white mission
that, for years, had me
airborne and afloat.
And for every spring
I ever needed
in my step, to skip through