Oriental White-Eyes are resident breeders in the Indian subcontinent. I have seen them all over southern India. And each time I have talked to them like I used to with my niece. Back when she was too young to communicate in an intelligible manner. For the first 2 years of her life, I just made faces and spoke gibberish.
It is how a lot of us talk to babies. We make up words and string them together, adding a melody to the delivery. It always starts with a semblance of linear thought. We ask them if they are hungry, why they are crying or if they want to sleep.
Then we go to this wonderful and weird place where we make no sense at all. Yet somehow we manage to get the message through. That we are thrilled about how cute they are.
It’s how I feel around Oriental White-Eyes. Perhaps it’s because of their diminutive sizes. And the assumption of fragility that comes along with it. Or the way they fly around, looking like eager half-eaten pears with yellowing overcoats.
It might even be their white-ringed and wide-eyed hopeful stares that sometimes give way to frightened glances.
Whatever it is, I can assuredly say stuff “aww sweetpeetie babywooobydoooo” and not feel like an idiot about it.
I want to take
baby steps from
the cradle to the hearse.
I won’t find
ignorance in bliss
unless it finds me first.
(Photographs: Kodaikanal, Munnar, Thekkady, Nandi Hills, Chittoor)