Some relationships are like a bird on the sill

Musings on everyday life



by

Suresh Pattali

Published: Thu 14 Apr 2022, 6:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Apr 2022, 7:00 PM

A tweet, well past midnight when I was making notes for my book, resonated through the endless emptiness of my heart, and the spring night. The lights were off and the lone Diptyque scented candle was about to shed the last tear drop on my workstation when the chirp pierced the armour of my solitude. The ambience wasn’t as romantic as one might assume and I wasn’t expecting a dame for dinner, but the singular tweet sent a swash of joy rippling around my soul.

I hadn’t been up-close with a bird, except a pigeon that called my balcony home and dirtied my nights and dreams with mournful harrumphs. Perched on the windowsill, the bird quivered and preened its feathers. Was it a swift, or a robin, or a lark? I wasn’t sure as the frosted panes refused to give away a clear picture. It clearly had an orange underpart. I watched its shadow play for a short while before pondering my politically correct course of action.

“Should I slide the panes open?”

“Do I need to take informed consent?”

“Would it be deemed a breach of privacy?”

“What if the bird panics and dies of trauma?”

“Will I be charged with assault and battery in a court of law?”

New-age debates thrown open by a slew of quirky movements have choked free speech. It’s a painful dilemma: should I break my mental shackles and invite the bird in? How do I know it’s a male, female or an avid advocate of wokeism and prefers to be called they?

“Are you OK? May we talk?” I murmured as I slid the door aside, leaving a diaphanous curtain of mesh between us. I wasn’t sure the conversation that followed was a whimsical dream or a surreal fantasy.

“Did I disturb you?” chirped the bird.

“Never mind. By the way, I loved your tweet.”

“Tweet has lost its sweetness after Musk and Trump. Humans have abused the most beautiful word. Anyways, we don’t restrict ourselves to 280 characters. We sing our heart out.”

“What are you doing here? Are you catching the breeze?”

“Wanted to be away from the cacophonous crowd. Some personal space to groom and brood.”

“Do birds brood?”

“I’m not sure about others. I do. A lot.”

“About what?”

“The impermanence of avian life. If we are in the Alps today, we could be in the Amazon tomorrow. We flow with the seasons. I like it here, the safest place in the world, as His Highness tweeted recently. No guns pointed at you. No cats and kids with stones to chase you away. No crackers and scarecrows to keep you at bay. Life’s so cool.”

“You are so lucky to be the proverbial free bird. The horizon is all yours where you can spread the wings of imagination and paint your dreams. I wish I were you.”

“Not every bird is free, friend. We have eagles up there in our own Hollywood to prey on us. It’s wrong to say we hit planes. They hit us in the skies we own. We have eggs to hatch and chicks to feed. And then we cry for our babies who will never return to our nests.”

“Is that why we always say birds cry.”

“Man has the tendency to generalise. Who said we always cry? We sing, croon, chorus, chirp, and serenade. We make the biggest symphony orchestra. Even your phone has a birdie ring tone.”

In the rest of the ungodly hours, she (I suppose so) gave me a bird’s-eye view about the frailties of life — and love — which fly in the face of everything that men expect of a bird. We discussed music. Various notes and ragas different birds use. “But like every human cannot be a Frank Sinatra and a Celine Dion, we have non-performers like ducks, which quack and doves that mourn.

And at the crack of dawn over the dunes, she was so ecstatic she zoomed past a murmuration that swooped down the skies. Never to return. Never to sing again the evening raga that she hummed for me from behind the curtain of civility and rectitude. Pappan called and mused some relationships were like the bird on the sill.

A few days later, the watchman tossed a bird carcass with an orange underpart into the bin in front of my villa. Was it a drone? Was it a flying car? Was it her partner? Whodunnit?

suresh@khaleejtimes.com


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