Bird is the word: Hawk cuckoos

The universality of curse words may suggest that we aren’t too comfortable in our own skin. So many expletives seem rooted in human sexuality. Maybe, we don’t respect our bodies the way we ought to. Why else do we liken people to reproductive organs and expect them to be offended by such inane comparisons?

In fact, why are body parts even perceived as constituting to obscene language? Is the human anatomy so repulsive that the very mention of its most intimate parts insinuates emotions such as anger, disgust, and confusion?

Common Hawk Cuckoo, Munnar

I gather that we feel stressed over overpopulation too. It must be why we scream at each other to “go screw ourselves”. Clearly, we don’t mean – “go and touch yourself, intimately and quietly, in the corner”. But if not, what are we trying to say?

Why are we chivvying the legitimacy of our parents’ relationships by calling one another a “bastard”? How my father met my mother, and what they did in the privacy of their bedroom is nobody’s business but theirs.

We forget that swearing without referring to the human body lends itself to a more discovery-led artistic process. Just the other day, I came across a lovely word – “palooka“. It refers to a dim-witted and uncouth boxer.

I wonder if birds use explicit language to respond to certain situations. Do they resort to crooning obscenities to chase away predators and birders? Probably not. But the Common Hawk Cuckoo (Brainfever bird) has me second guessing, at times.

It has approached me before, flared up, like a Puffer Fish with wings. And every single time it felt as though the cuckoo was swearing at me. It wasn’t their regular three-note calls either. A lot more acerbic than that.

It could be that I have a knack of getting close to their nests. Or Common Hawk Cuckoos have serious issues with personal spaces (as they should).

There is also a chance that I could be crazy.

But maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that it has been asking me to get lost in the most melodious way possible. In that case, I shouldn’t go around disturbing them and being a palooka about it.

She arches her back,
lying down, and wriggles
her toes, murmuring
to the cracks in the ceiling
in foreign tongues; her fingers
skid across a place of birth,
circling the curves for passages
of light, that detach her womb
from the salt of the earth.

Common Hawk Cuckoo

(Photographs – Vedanthangal – Chennai, Munnar, Idukki, and Nellore)

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33 comments

  1. I love curse words. Use them all the time, but rarely (if ever) in name-calling (only with my husband who knows my tone). If I want to call someone a name, I like to use ‘crab pot’ or ‘weasel fingers.’ They don’t quite know what to do with those…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very interesting post. You are making me want to think of swear words that DON’T have to do with the human body! 🙂 I agree that if we are going to insult people, we should at least be more creative about it. Another solution to that could be looking at Shakespeare’s insults. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mukul. I think a huge part of it has to do with luck. But I have noticed that it helps to make the birdie feel calm around us (by making only slight movements and giving them the liberty to go elsewhere and come back) before clicking the photograph.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Our birds have a habit of turning their backs to us if we don’t respond fast enough to their requests for food. However, what they are saying while they are facing away from us, is anyone’s guess!
    By the way, I’d always thought that it’s the sound of the words rather than their meaning that holds the power, in swear words. You try to find something that’s stronger in its explosive effect than the most common ‘F’ word (in English, anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so happy that there isn’t anything that can be confirmed as an educated guess either. It’s open to interpretation. That makes me happy. I am sure you feel good about it too!

      The way they sound eh, yeah makes sense. At least, in our local language, the diction seems to play a part in doling out the level of intensity!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It literally lits me up to see your post on top when I open wordpress after a couple of days break … …never failing to feed my thoughts and words! Had never thought about this shortsighted link between body parts and offensive words and you have presented it not just unoffensively but totally beautifully!
    A blog that feeds my hunger yet makes me more famished!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh M, your kindness and generosity in compliments make my head grow so large that I may, at some point in time – hopefully, look more cartoonish than usual hehehe.

      Thank you so much, you really light me up with your words!

      Liked by 1 person

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