Often, we fall in love with the idea of what people may mean to us rather than with the type of person they actually are. You measure the value that they bring to your life instead of being attentive the way that they lead theirs.
You yearn to be analyzed by them. Cherished. Destroyed. Rebuilt. Again and again. You never want to be let go of. Because you realize that they can make things better for you. In the process, you forget that priorities can be aligned but they can also, just as easily, change. Distracted, you only pay attention to yours.
If it all comes crashing down – you lose your individuality. Your aspirations. Whatever it was that once made you happy. You turn into a shell of yourself. And you listen to a lot of Ed Sheeran before going in search of your next parasitical endeavor.
Human relationships are more complex than the many trysts I share with birds. If I wake up early, dress in dull-colored clothes, drive, go to the right place and keep silent when I have to, there is a great chance of having a perfect date. There is music in the air. And love. A chilly breeze butterfly-kisses our cheeks. Photographs are taken. Memories are created.
While I can never tell whether they had a good time, I find myself smitten every single time. If I had tail-feathers, I would shake them, like some feathered mongrel.
Lesser Coucals (Crow Pheasants), though are reluctant lovers of mine. Most of them don’t stand still for more than a few seconds. There is barely enough time for me to blush and coyly smile. They don’t want me to take snapshots either. I had to embark upon guerrilla missions to point, focus and shoot.
But I see them whenever I am birding in the city. They are one of the most widespread species of cuckoos in southern India. One of the most beautiful too. They resemble mythical birds of war, armed with glossy shoulder-pads, powerful jet-black beaks, and eyes – fiery red like cherry wine.
I used to feel bad about it; that they seemed skeptical about spending time with me. Later, I understood that love can’t be trapped inside an hourglass. Or within the body of a cuckoo that lives inside a wall clock. Each bird has its own song. Its own special way of making me feel connected to the world around me. And I want to get close to each one of them. It really shouldn’t matter for how long.
Time is relative but space isn’t.
Come to me again, dear Coucal. We will share the sweetest goodbyes.
to bake a croissant
of a girl, with raisins for pimples
and a can of cocoa butter
to caramelize her lips.
to marinate her hair
in creamy cinnamon dip
and hold her over a low flame,
to loosen her cherry skin hips.
I just want to bake my
very own gingerbread girl.
(Photographs: Chennai, Kanchipuram)