A honey buzzard lands softly on the giloy-canopied acacia clumps in front of our house. The creeper, whose juice became the staple drink of entire India during the pandemic waves, has covered the prickly trees so thoroughly as to make it impossible for the sun to kiss the ground below. During the rainy season, the creepy huge tent of the heart-shaped leaves becomes a nesting heaven for little birds like tailor birds and warblers. Since there is no honey around, the buzzard has to look for alternatives to survive instead of having a breakfast of honey.
There aren’t enough flowering and fruit trees to sustain honeybee nests these days. My unkempt garden has some flowers but they are more suitable to the eyes. These can sustain a modest bee nest at the most. However, with the arrival of monkeys even this option is ruled out for the last couple of seasons. They relish breaking things, so how can we expect the honeybees to get a discount on this.
The honey buzzard without honey is just in the name of it. I think its name will have to be changed in the absence of honey very soon. Hungry and looking for a quick breakfast, it is perched with certain discipline and acceptance of its honey-less fate and cranes it neck almost full circle, its yellow-rimmed eyes scanning the surrounding leafy table for some eatable crumbs left.
It’s a majestic dark brown hawk with spotted white underside. The crows and babblers spot it. There is a huge round of abuses hurled in enthusiastic shrill at the transgressor. A squirrel is also employing her vocals to provide a prickish tik-tik-tik drumbeat to the protesting chorus. The hunter has to look somewhere else. It swoops away from the noise. I wish him a perfect lunch of honey among the trees lining the canals around the village. There are many trees there and maybe honeybees haven’t forsaken the land altogether.
The other day I missed the bee eaters, the beautiful lemon green birds who glide like tiny aircrafts. Their wings when spread out and not flapped look like that of a fighter jet. But they don’t thunder like a fighting machine. Theirs is a melodious trill-trill-trill symphony. It’s better to have a fighting attitude and calm voice. You do what you need to do without bragging or boasting about it. Most of the problems and issues of life are beyond the pale of ‘what we need to do’. They arise because of our unnecessary tongue-work. In the absence of bees they are also the bee eaters just in name. But the sky is full of flying insects. I don’t think they miss bees as much as the honey buzzard misses its honey.
Dining tables give their best in a bachelor’s house. They serve multiple purposes of which dining comes way down the list. The important functions include ironing, writing, dispensing multitudinous tasks, resting place for things that fail to grab a foothold somewhere else and of course eating and having tea. To increase the range of its services, I have put it in the veranda. It’s almost a laden wagon with a little corner empty where I set my decade and half years old laptop. It works on live electricity, the battery having quitted its services a couple of years back. In any case, it’s in reasonably good condition to meet the needs of a small-time writer.
I thought the dining table has enough load to my satisfaction. However, there is always a scope for some more of the utility; the very same utilitarian spirit that has over-laden the earth like a creaking, complaining wagon. The potter’s wasp proves this utilitarian principle. Now, as I type I have the privilege of looking at it during breaks. The wasp-copter hovers above and lands with its mud cargo to leave a bit more of it on the mud-house. The building is coming nicely. The cavity leading to the pupa chamber is perfectly round. Every time it deposits its load, it takes a rest, facing me with arrogance, its behind twitching like a wagtail bird all the while. It’s not scared in the least, I’m sure. An almost unknown writer isn’t the one to be bothered about too much.
Well, builder wasp, you are within the limits of sanity in not minding me but please mind the bee eaters. They aren’t just eating the bees as the name says. They are equally good wasp eaters also. I don’t want an unfinished house on my table. It should be complete. Even potter wasp’s mud castle is nice if it’s completed and done diligently. So make a good one and be careful as you set out again for the next round of ferrying the building material.
The doormat-kitten is plainly a greedy-kitten now. It doesn’t seem to eat for the sake of the hunger of stomach. I think the hunger in mind has taken precedence and that is quite serious. It drinks more than it can digest and recycles it to a yellowish semi-fluid product in the garden which isn’t a good sight.
It has to remember that I’m least suitable to be a pet parent. I’m not looking for a pet, that’s for sure. I just want it to be a semi-feral cat that loiters around the garden for half the time within the boundary and half outside. The food also equally rationed between the domestic part and the wild part. It has but put all its cards at the domestic front. The barn-kitten is perfectly fulfilling my expectations of a cat. So the broom, not used that much for its usual operations and is happy to lie in good state, may be given extra responsibility of putting the kitten fur on its back in some disciplined order. If it’s a smart kitten it will get the message.
The wire-tailed swallows have beautiful molten blue swift wings that allow them to get speedy dives and quick change of directions. But they have weak paws. I think they don’t have this word ‘wire’ in their name just for the wires projecting behind in the tail. They are named so because they have weak paws that makes it difficult to perch on trees. They are at their restful most while perched on wires, their paws grasping the straight line and bellies supported on the line. We have our strengths and weaknesses and theirs is flying swift and sitting almost painfully, so much so that they prefer airy love-making loops while in flight. No wonder, they have such strong flying genes. A few of them are resting on the electricity wires in the street.
They seem to be witnessing something special on the electricity cable below. The cable crosses the yard. This is non-flying love-making. But it is shifty and quick. One needs to have quick eyes to spot the moment. A love-struck pair of scaled munia, drunk with the procreative spirits of the season, takes the decisive step in their courtship. It’s a beautiful chocolate coloured little bird having a chessboard pattern on its breast.
She is twitching its tail and crouches low in receptivity. He gets on top for a second’s forgetfulness. The would-be Ma and Pa then fly away to enjoy some more brief moments of ecstasy. Nothing wrong with brief ecstasies but they come with huge time span of responsibilities. Their commitment to their nesting duties is unfailing. And that’s what makes it so beautiful unlike we humans who would have the most of the pleasures and avoid the resultant responsibilities. This is what breeds our agonies. Most of us are looking for maximum pleasure at the cost of least duties. No wonder, multifarious agonies abound because it’s impossible to avoid stepping on others’ toes with this approach. So dear readers, enjoy your life as per your notion of enjoyment but never shirk responsibilities befalling your way as a result.
Looking at the underused, lazy broom, having made to look at it while working my mind upon the added task to give it some job on the back fur of the greedy and still lazier cat, I am reminded of my duties also. They are related to the broom. A confession here. I don’t broom my place on a daily basis. I know if I attempt it daily, I will do a half-hearted shifty job. I want to do it thoroughly with entire focus. So I do it after certain intervals. I am not going to specify the time period between the two broom tasks because people are very judgmental and they will say something disturbing about the state of affairs. So here I set out to work with the broom.
A puppy howls painfully for a good interval of time. In their innocence, the children easily jump out into the folds of sadistic glee. Their deeds are pardonable. They are a work in progress but the elders can definitely make them realize the fact of pain to other species. It’s an important parental duty to make them understand the things like violence and pain in easy ways so that they grow up to be caring and sensitive human beings.
All species are breeding very fast in the rainy season. It would be cruel to the lizards to expect them to not do so. They have done full justice to their numbers in nice proportion to the fleas and mosquitoes. Tiny lizard babies crawl on the floor. They sometimes almost dive and are dragged along by the fleas they have pounced upon. That’s the survival matrix. You have to hide and hiding might be longer in time in comparison to your outing. It’s but very small in substance. You have to come out for the flash of a second and take your chance of food. It lasts a flashing second but in consequence it’s far more important than the long hours of hiding.
All this is a rapidly shifting show. We have to grab our chances with cool deliberation. It’s always about the balance between the pause and attack. Go one way and you are done for it. Stay in pause perpetually and you are sidelined by the forces of nature of its own. Try being a jumping jack all the time in the attacking mode on the flashy stage outdoors and you are gobbled down by someone doing the same with a bit more deliberation and efficiency. So balance out your innings. Make it a harmonious blend of pause and run.
The broom dismantles a few cobwebs in the corners. How can the spiders be behind in procreation? They spin a very fine web and know the value of patience till the moment the impatient flight of some mosquito or fly lands them in webby straits. A spider evicted from its web is a piteous creature. Its long shaky legs make it look like an old stilt walker. They move lurchingly to seek new corners. I have to break the stilts of a few to maintain inter-species balance.
A lizard baby also helps me in the task. It takes a bite at the long-legged spider. It looks very funny, almost clueless about what to do afterwards as the legs pedal quite a bit. Maybe it will manage its breakfast in a very ungainly way so prefers the privacy under the wooden chest. The spider gets a new home. It’s the tiny lizard baby. There is a nice probability that the lizard baby might get a brand new home, the kitten, the barn kitten especially. The lazy one has accommodation strictly reserved for pure, creamy cow milk only.
The rain god is indeed in very happy spirits. A passing cloud looks down and finds the unkempt garden drier than its expectation. There starts a brief spell of a very nice drizzle. The blue is visible around the cloud. Rain and sunshine going together is something special, an intoxicating cocktail of fire and water, a coming home of the opposites. The raindrops look silvery threads drawn to tie earth to the heavens. Mother earth surely is tied to the heavens, just that we have cut most of the cords and set the heavens free for our dreams and after-life journey.