It’s been 72 hours since I spotted Great Indian Hornbills in Valparai for the fourth time. A few things have changed in my life since then.
It’s as though someone turned my life’s volume knob way down. The bedroom walls are starting to whisper back. Last night, we watched each other peel in strange places. It was unsettling in a sexy way. Or vice-versa. I am unsure. Either way, we didn’t make eye-contact in the morning.
But there’s no confusion in my mind about how it feels to be close to Great Indian Hornbills.
Once again, I saw the male play the role of a loving and caring monogamous mate. This time, he was also a devoted father. He went out to collect berries every 10 minutes for the family. He came back, within two-hour intervals, to the nesting tree, like a phoenix under the influence of the sun.
Patiently then, he fed his wife and children – one berry at a time. He was chivalrous in his movements and grand in his earnestness to bring home the berries.
I was lucky to see the juveniles for the first time. One of them took a peak outside to taste the air in a free world. While it is never a good practice to photograph nests, I just couldn’t help it.
I watched them for about 6 hours before my legs started to feel like crumbling wafers. There was a gathering crowd too, given how popular this spot has become over the years.
I had all the love I needed from them to survive for a few months more. So I moved on.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since. It’s like washing my face with rainwater. Well, more like sticking my finger deep inside my throat. It helps me regurgitate all the nasty stuff it takes to be in pursuit of freedom, restitution or harmony.
All I am left with now is a clandestine glow that has escaped through the cracks along my abdomen wall. It has filled my esophagus with folk music. A banjo note may roll down my tongue and tickle the cool morning air in Valparai during the next trip.
I will hunger, until then, for you, my big-beaked beaus.
is a song
when it finds