freedom

United we fall

The daily challenges faced by many people in my country do not bother me as much as they used to. Because I let go of the guilt of having had a more privileged upbringing. And I am not skilled enough to fight the system by tweeting about how unfair everything is.

What really bothers me is when the unwritten rules of social conduct are broken. For instance, some of us try to get inside the elevator even when its doors are closing. We do not consider it impolite to ask people to delay their routines because of our selfishness.

Why must anyone set aside their priorities to deal with ours? We are not chasing after Mad Max in a lawless dessert. Unless there is an emergency, we must follow certain rules of social conduct. We simply cannot be inconsiderate of the lives of strangers. Whether or not they can fly is a different matter altogether.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating

Is it okay to say that female birds are not as attractive as their male counterparts? Or does it make me a sexist? I can’t be sure. Because people pounce on others for saying things that they deem, personally, to be offensive. Context does not seem to matter. As long as they are upset, they will fight you tooth and nail over it.

But I like keyboard warriors, irrespective of their gender or the social cause they support. Generally, their English is good. For some reason, they smell nicer than the average person. And they watch interesting films. Some are passionate about fighting marginalization. Others try and assuage middle-class guilt through their actions.

I am unaware how much good they are doing for the oppressed communities. But it is sweet that they want to do anything at all.

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The best things in life are feathered and free

I’m not sure what freedom means to me. I may be free, technically, but there are signs that seem to indicate otherwise. I recognize them only while trying to plot an escape from drudgery. The hair follicles on my neck stand up. My throat is parched. My knees feel weak. Sweat trickles down the bridge of my nose. It’s a tense situation.

It’s as though a gun is pointed at the back of my head. I can hear its cold metallic mouth breathing. It whispers into my ears, like lovers on their way out, that all resistance is useless. That non-compliance will be dealt with – swiftly, harshly and permanently. To make matters worse, the gun sounds like Werner Herzog.

Freedom is more than a state of mind. It isn’t even in the heart. It’s in the feathers of birds. I realize it whenever I hear the sound of their wings flapping away from me.

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The right to soar: Scaly-Breasted Munias

Scaly-Breasted Munias, like many other finches, are prostituted into the pet trade business. I’m not surprised that people are illegally selling them. I know the kind of things that people are willing to do for money. We all do. It’s why the seller doesn’t bother me as much as the buyer does in this business.

I wonder how anyone can find love in a caged bird. Do they find perverse pleasure in clipping its wings? How can they romanticize slavery because it involves creatures that don’t speak our language of pain? Is it a manifestation of their messiah complexes?

I am unsure what to think. All I know is that Illaiyaraja, a legendary musician, wrote a beautiful Tamizh song about this sick fetish of ours.

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Birds aren’t chained to our skies

The crack of dawn goes unheard
even though it is drizzling songs inside.
No matter the crooked ways of the world –
birds aren’t chained to our skies

For a few years now, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary has been a nesting spot for the birder in me. It was where my love for birds grew a pair of wings. In November 2013 I had revisited the sanctuary after two decades. Before that, I had been there just once during a school trip in the late Eighties. I remembered nothing about it other than queuing up in front of its rusty front gate .

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