Great Indian Hornbills look visibly upset when they sense danger in their surroundings. They let out a guttural cry as they take flight like wondrous paper planes, to find a vantage point. They aren’t scared easily, though. They are one of the largest hornbills in the world. Any predator would think twice about pissing them off. Malabar Trogons panic, like most smaller birds, when their nests are under attack. With one swift movement, they position themselves at a safe distance. Then, they stare at the intruder, dead in the eye, and purr softly – like a spellbound cat.
Earlier this year, I had the dubious distinction of interrupting the feeding sessions of these gorgeous birds. Yet I was spared the guilt of being a nuisance, and the Hitchcockian tragedy of being pecked to death by birds.
As a child, I was in awe of the role that my mother played in my life. I found it baffling that she had the final say on everything I did. She could take decisions on my behalf. Order me around to do chores. Create arbitrary rules I had to abide by. Even though this worked out in my favour most of the time, I wasn’t comfortable with the kind of power she could wield. It weakened me in a peculiar way that she could correct all my wrongs – without even consulting me.
I had never understood her influence until much later. Only as an adult did I realize how important it was to have had a loving and supportive mother while growing up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show her just how grateful I was. At least, not in ways that she might have wanted me to.
Parenting in our species is a tough nut to crack. As a child-free adult, I can’t even begin to fathom the stress involved. The lack of sleep. The pressures of safety. Financial pressures. I don’t get how they do it, but I just know it’s hard. It is no excuse though some parents make for such terrible role models. Children can learn so much from them on how not to behave, and what not to do with their lives.