pic courtesy: http://www.runningjayhawk.com/2007_06_01_archive.html
This story is both a happy and a sad account of my interaction with a bird (yes!) that lost her child a few months back.
This bird used to chirp and pitter-patter outside my room. It gazed into my window and took curious notice of its own reflection (in what is a reflective-on-the-outside glass pane) and beat its beak upon the glass. It flied around hurriedly and playfully from twigs just outside, softly landing on the window sill and then scurrying back to her nest, fetching something all the while for her child in the nest. This looked like a happy routine. Or sometimes, she would fly hard and straight into the window and hit the pane with her beak … ‘khatt’ …and then immediately break into a shrill, indiscrete song, as if this had any purpose.
I could never know whether she ‘identified’ herself, that is, did she love seeing herself in the mirror (understandable, from what we know of our species!) or did she feel amazed to notice a ‘very similar-looking’ friend (her reflection) on the other side of the window. She looked visibly confused when she found the window open…and probably felt scared too, to find me so close to her establishment. When I understood this, I kept that window closed mostly, lest she should get scared or fly away. (I have a window on the other wall as well, so that wasn’t a problem) There were numerous curious observations that occurred to me because of my association with her. Of course, many thoughts and wonders were carelessly lost by the mind. Some stayed on, as if by themselves.
Not all memories are jolly. I remember the evening she lost someone very dear – her own fledgling. It looked like a casual, happy evening but it wasn’t to be. A rather long session of rain had my mood drenched in glee. The birds, ants & squirrels on the trees too looked playful in their child-like, frenzied movements. I have always felt that animals have more aspirations from Nature, & are more grateful to Her in return, than us humans. It’s like they seek more and get more. So coming back, it was a windy evening. Once the rains were gone, I was busy gazing outside my window, reading all the different colours and smells that nature had put on a careless display that evening.
Suddenly, there was a shrieking of birds and I saw this bird’s nest having fallen on the ground below. I ran downstairs with all the little hope my heart could gather, only to find it shattered amidst scattered twigs and a motionless baby bird lying in a puddle of rain water. Nothing else in the world seemed to have been affected by what had happened. The leaves were shedding accumulated drops as a last reminder of the rains gone by. The remorseless air was getting calm again. People were enjoying the after-rains in their private balconies. The mother bird was fluttering around frantically, shrieking in a tone that bore no semblance of the singing that was typical of her. She must’ve been crying, only if I could understand.
This happiness-to-sorrow transition was demonic in its aspect. A happy drama had ended in a tragic last scene of such immense sorrow. I rushed back to my room to avoid everything.
Here is an elegy that I later wrote for her dead child –
“God, keep her in glee,
In your private abode, if need be
Take, if you have less,
The honey from my Fate,
And lull her to sleep tonight,
Say her mother may get late.
God, did you see, that friend I met hither,
Her little beak, it does not twitter,
Cold and dead, her damp fur,
Look O Lord, what happened to her.”
It has been a few months since then. Time has moved on; it always does. O! But she is a brave soul, this mommy bird. She hasn’t forgotten to sing her songs in the morning, though she is a little withdrawn (it could be my imagination too, but if the sad experience hasn’t tricked me, I feel she doesn’t come flying into my window with such verve as before)
Although this was a highly personalised observation, I thought it alright to share. Through this writing, I have tried to revisit and understand better the idea of life & existence, happiness & sorrow, and further, the purpose of our living and dying, if any, and the handling and execution of our individual destinies (by God, or whoever).
PS (for the grammarian kind): Don’t mind my casually interchanging between ‘it’ and ‘she’ when referring to the bird.
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