This June, a withered pigeon started its quest to build a nest in my house.
It was an exceptionally ugly pigeon, not the kind of a pigeon you’d want building a nest in your house.
Not that I care about how pigeons look, I don’t care much for pigeons at all,
Or birds, or animals,
Or living things for the matter,
My mother, who doesn’t like change looked at the pigeon’s efforts with disapproval
“Throw it out”, she told the maid, not making it clear whether she was talking about the nest or the pigeon.
And the maid would throw the half –made nest out, emotionless, eggs or not.
This happened once. Twice. And then…
The third time it happened, I asked casually –
“What problem do you have with the pigeon,
It’s not bothering you
It’s not stealing
Let the damn thing stay.”
Mother, who hates letting things be gave me the look,
The look that suggested that I was in no place to address her thus…
But for some reason she shrugged – and said –“Hmph”
And thus the pigeon stayed…
In all its grotesqueness,
Every morning it would come back and gather twig after twig.
Throwing them together in a terrible heap all awkward and sloppy.
It was infuriating
How perfect the pigeon was finding its creation.
Mother would stare from the kitchen while she made her tea first thing in the morning,
Saying, “What a dumb bird”
What a dumb bird!
It was true though.
As I observed the absolute mediocrity of the animal
How meaningless could your life be
If your goal for the day is to fetch twigs
Weeks passed. The nest had now taken shape.
Well…nest…if you could call it a nest.
I noticed, mother dear had begun to observe the animal.
Almost obsessively every morning
She would coop up next to the window
Staring while the pigeon would go on aimlessly
Sometimes I would catch her poke grains of rice at the pigeon
Almost demanding the bird to accept the offering,
After all – SHE was offering the food.
Who was the pigeon to refuse it!
“What a dumb bird”, she would say.
What a dumb bird, really
Soon enough, a suitable mate was wooed into the nest.
Who would sit in the nest with him
While the male pigeon flew around to get more food for the two of them
She would reject his offerings
And his advances
Guarding with her life the solitary egg
That was the purpose of their existence
To get something new into this world
While mother watched, now utterly fascinated.
She would watch every day, sometimes hours on an end
Marvelling the stupidity of the male bird
How he flew around day in and day out
“What a dumb bird!” she would say
Yet now going out of her way to throw grain hoping that they would eat it
I think it was June
When the egg hatched.
No wait…it was the end of may
Well whatever…the damn thing hatched.
And the foulest thing I’ve ever had the misfortune to see popped an eye out of the shell.
Mother was thrilled!
Delighted that this long wait had born fruit.
Look son, she said –look at how the egg has hatched
I saw a the chick, the scrawny shit that it was
Lying begging for food
The father having abandoned it now
Maybe he left, maybe he was killed, maybe he died naturally
I’ll never know
The female pigeon would fiercely guard her kid
Mustering this absurd, untold bravery where she would hoot angrily
Whenever someone approached the nest
As the kid grew
She started taking longer gaps foraging for food for the youngling
Two days before my birthday
When the monsoon threatened to ravage the city
We were out at a friends when the downpour started
We had no choice but to stay the night
It poured and poured and poured
We went home the next day
And saw the little chick
Lying there cold, pecked to death
Pecked till there were cold puncture wounds all over its body
Pecked to a bloody mess
Killed by the same stupid pigeon who gave him birth
And mother burst into tears
Long uncontrollable tears
For hours and hours…
Till she settled down, slowly
“What a dumb bird” she said, wiping her eyes…