Often, we fall in love with the idea of what people may mean to us rather than with the type of person they actually are. You measure the value that they bring to your life instead of being attentive the way that they lead theirs.
You yearn to be analyzed by them. Cherished. Destroyed. Rebuilt. Again and again. You never want to be let go of. Because you realize that they can make things better for you. In the process, you forget that priorities can be aligned but they can also, just as easily, change. Distracted, you only pay attention to yours.
The crack of the dawn fills my head with colors. It does weird stuff to my lungs. Leaves my insides all shook up. But I don’t feel like puking. It’s like the sky is undergoing a cesarean section to the tempo of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody Number 2. And I am watching the rebirth of the sun.
Waking up early has become a habit these days. A few years ago, it was a hard bargain. Because I used to have a soft corner for the nights. There was nothing poetic about it. The city just seemed so much quieter. And it made all the difference.
About two summers ago, I was in Gudalur during a trip to the Nilgiri Hills – with a few friends. Barely five minutes after reaching the spot, we spotted a pair of Indian Eagle Owls. It was my first sighting. They flew past us, and into a section of the forest. And it all happened so quickly.
I couldn’t giggle over my good fortune. There wasn’t any time to react, much less – to celebrate. We kept our eyes glued on the couple, as they shifted their positions. But the light was fading fast. We couldn’t tell if we were looking at owls or a cluster of shadows. The evening sun blushed in sleepy orange and turned them into ghosts.
Depression can be a pesky mosquito. I try and swat it when I hear it buzzing in my ears. The feeling disappears for a while but it never really goes away. It just goes into hiding and waits for me to slip again. I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this. Instead of squelching the melancholy in unhealthy ways, I drive to hill stations in search of birds.
I seek solace in nature and its magnificent creatures. I am a tie-dye tee shirt away from being a tiresome cliché. It embarrasses me to think about it. But I won’t change my ways. I still want to escape internal conflict instead of dwelling on the details. It helps that I get to see birds exchange love with each other. They reaffirm my faith in humanity despite belonging to a different species.
I can’t explain it. I suppose, therein lies the charm of believing in it.
I was once privy to a fascinating dialogue between a pair of Racket-Tailed Drongos in the semi-evergreen forests of Vagamon. I had no idea what they were chirping about. But it looked like a heated debate. One seemed to intimidate the other. There was some dancing. It was theatrical.
The conversation lasted for about three minutes. They made up and flew away together. It was as though they suddenly realized they were late to a gathering of pixies. And that life was too short and difficult, and the universe – too unimaginably magnificent, to be wasted on disagreements.
Arguments between people stretch a lot longer than that. Many of them end on a sour note too. It’s like dealing with auto-corrections while typing on the phone. It doesn’t matter what one wants to say, the other will misinterpret it.
We often want to put a positive spin on the mistakes we make. How if it wasn’t for our blunders over the years, we probably wouldn’t be here today. We don’t realize that we might have been happier if we hadn’t screwed up. We could have been astronauts. Spotted more birds. Spent less time fretting over our stupid problems. Learnt how to finger-paint. We are so obsessed about learning from our missteps that we don’t stop ourselves from taking them.
I almost made a huge mistake last Sunday. I considered skipping a long-awaited birding trail along State Highway 49 (East Coast road). It wasn’t even for a noble reason. There were no kittens to be rescued. I was just lazy.
I think everyone is born a morning person. We just uneasily grow out of it. There is a certain fluidity to our productive capabilities that crumbles into uncomfortable silos as the day progresses. There is some charm to it too. Cities look cleaner. People smell nicer. More importantly, birds show up in the largest possible numbers.
The dawn has me awake and impassioned about the remaining hours. It doesn’t matter if the excitement wears off by the time dusk comes calling. A few hours of radiance is all it takes to build a powerful case study about the universe.
But we must choose to first start with how things aren’t all that bad.
Mornings are the best parts of living in the hills, especially in the heart of the wild. Or at least in the upper torso region where your tongue plays peekaboo with the chillness in her breath. You thirst for the pulpy orange juice stains on the bluing sky at the break of her dawn. Your vision is beautifully compromised. You cannot see the cruelty in nature anymore. Suddenly, she is no longer indifferent to your existence.
Your mind conspires with silence to sneak your body into her mist-shrouded womb. She invites you to snake through her, like a baby electric eel feeling its own surge of energy for the first time. With the dawn pouring in, through the pine trees, your expectations, fears and anxieties fade away.