In the grind and mundaneness of our daily lives, we often forget that there is so much joy in the little things that we ignore each day. And sometimes, we are reminded that we didn’t realize things that are always around us could be looked at in a completely different way or invoke an entirely new feeling in us.
Like watching a free bird up close from a few centimeters! Come to think of it. It’s extraordinarily beautiful and equally rare.
Fixing a one-way mirror (which allows only one way visibility, famously used during criminal interrogations) for the window pane to keep the harsh sun out has been serendipitous. From the large peepal tree outside my balcony, mynahs, pigeons, sparrows and the excruciatingly beautiful parrots with their shining green feathers and bubblegummy mound of a beak fly up to my window and sit on the grill outside, unaware of human presence on the inside.
And you get to look at them in all their natural glory, in your naked eye, few centimeters from you nose. Nothing else reproduces that feeling. Whether shooting them with a high zoom lens or watching hours of Discovery shot on professional high definition cameras.
They sit in their world like a beautiful criminal, answering unknowingly the thousand silent questions of a spellbound investigator.
You see the myriad wrinkles on their eyelids and on the thin, pink or ochre legs. You see the carefree look in their eyes while they flit impatiently across the grill, landing and taking off purposelessly. Their feathers standing up and their body swelling momentarily, as if in a false anger.
You marvel at the enormously little tongue protruding just a little when letting out a chirp. Or the smoothness of their sharp parabolic claws that neatly wrap around the grill. Or the subtle way the colour of their feather changes around the eye or reveal itself up from below their wings.
They sit on the air conditioner outdoor unit and turn around randomly as if playing kabaddi with an invisible opponent. They move around not by walking, but by jumping. Tiny jumps of a perpetually happy baby. They scan your house, top to bottom and side to side. They probably preen themselves like an adolescent girl in the reflective glass or get excited by someone looking like them. You will never know. They twist their neck at impossible angles and probe their own body like a saint looking for his own sins.
For a few seconds, you are tricked to think that their wings are frozen and they will always be outside your window whenever you look out for them.
Then the fly away. Filling your heart with an unknown pain, a longing. You don’t know where that feeling wells from, or why you should feel anything at all. Is it a desire to hold them in your palm, or be as carefree as them? Or a wish to be able to watch the miniature world through the filter of clouds? You don’t know.
In that fleeting unexplained moment between you and the winged beauty, you start discovering the true value of “presence”. As opposed to the sound coming from a little digital device pressed to your ear or the colourless flatness of digital make believe world, riding on the mumbo-jumbo of heated pixels.
You keep watching the bird. Beautifully, the bird watches right back from behind a glass screen of a different kind.