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Vasu Ramanujam

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Just a bird in the sky
By Vasu Ramanujam   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, January 14, 2012
Posted: Saturday, January 14, 2012

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Birds are able to co-exist peacefully. Why not human beings?

It was 7:15 in the morning. There was a nip in the air. The river flowed quietly, as it had for years. Of course, over time, the river has accumulated lots of thermocole and plastics along the banks, but it flowed on nevertheless.

The calm of the morning was broken now and then by the honking of a school bus, impatient for that one child who was late. And by the birds who were calling it a day (I mean calling it the start of the day! J). There were the common sparrows, chirping away merrily as they hopped from branch to branch of the peepul tree. The mynahs that rested for about ten seconds on the tree after they had crossed the river. The kites that were circling the area, keenly looking for food. The pigeons that sat on my terrace, looking for water (ironic, considering there is a river flowing by!). The crows that were noisily protecting their territory. The bulbuls that were almost camouflaged in the half-eaten foliage of the tree. The sunbirds that were hanging on precariously to the purple flowers on my terrace looking for nectar. The barbets that were flitting from branch to branch, looking like pirates. The egrets that flew methodically along the river. And the rather noisy cuckoos that were always loud and in a hurry.
In the midst of all this activity, I spotted the golden yellow of the male golden oriole, perched right on top of the tree, sitting very still and looking out towards the river. A few feet away, the dull yellow female of the species, also still and looking towards the river. These birds certainly did not merge into the surroundings, as the others did. Of course the others gave the game away by making noises, whilst the orioles just sat there, silent as the hills. Still, they were quite a contrast to the landscape! I was excited by the sighting, partly because they were so beautiful, and partly because I could proudly tell my friends that I saw a rare bird!
Picture this: When we see a beautiful girl or a handsome man (or a cricketer or a film star), we appreciate their beauty or talent, but we do not stop there. We want to know every juicy part of their lives. Sometimes, we dig out juicy scandals involving them and use that to beat them down. We adopt a “holier-than-thou” attitude and pass value judgements against them. We try and satisfy ourselves and our friends of our superiority over them. We raise them to high heavens when it suits us, and bring them crashing down to earth when it suits us.
Do the other birds do this to the orioles? I think not.
Because, as I looked on, the sparrows continued chirping, the mynahs continued on their way, the kites continued gliding, the pigeons continued looking for water on my terrace, the crows continued their vigil, the bulbuls continued hiding in the tree, the sunbirds continued looking for nectar, the barbets continued looking like pirates, the egrets continued flying along the river, and the cuckoos were as noisy and hurried as ever. None of them seemed interested in the orioles. After about ten minutes of this, the orioles flew away in a splash of yellow across the river to some other tree somewhere, where they would spend the day perhaps.
Why cannot we humans be like the birds and just mind our own businesses, and let the other beautiful people live their lives to their hearts’ content?

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Reviewed by Michael Charles Messineo 1/21/2012
I love how you wove the human tendency through the daily activities of the birds. You painted a great visual for me.

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