Birds on the line

As the mishmash of places that Indian cities are, this takes place in front of a seedy bar beside a small store selling rice and other respectable grains, on top of which is a cheap mess on whose broken balcony I stand, digesting my chicken and rice, watching this little girl in a red and white school uniform walk into the scene with, what is that? rice grains in a bag from which she throws a handful at the ground and voila there descend pigeons from nowhere, four, five, fifteen, forty, seventy five, which start pecking around, and the girl watches in glee as her parents line up behind her and start instructing her, this way not that, there not here, and so she throws another handful with now-heightened enthusiasm and nervousness, which causes the idiot birds to hit a startled retreat and line up on the electric wires and lampposts and skeletons of advertising hoardings crowding the sky just above, striking Kingfisher poses, but being pigeons, taking no risk and waiting and waiting and waiting for dangers to pass by, like the boy running to the shop, the balding man walking out of the bar, and the child herself and her parents, now admonishing her on the folly of her enthusiasm, and I want to punch the parents in the face for their anxious prompting in the first place, but I wait and wait with the birds, to see how they would come back, if it would be one courageous bird or a few brave ones, that make the first move, and which of these hundred birds it would be, but I see that at least half of them have flown away in to the abyss they first came from and now there are about forty of them, and none make a move while the girl who wants to wait is now dragged away by her parents to their home full of anxiety that she may not grow up to be who they want her to be if they wasted any more time feeding pigeons like these who do not make the right moves and wait for too long, but I, having wasted most of my life foolishly trying to balance others anxieties with my desires, and impulsiveness with undue patience, decide to satisfy at least my curiosity, and is soon rewarded by the sight of a heroic pigeon, looking quite unlike the smoothly plumed, big brave one I had in mind, and with a raggedy tail and a thin neck that made me wonder if he or she alone among these pigeons was the most courageous, or the most foolish or the most impatient, like me, an Aries Decan One pigeon, who now starts pecking the ground looking for the rice grains, a whole lump of which the girl last dumped just a few feet away, but being a pigeon and not a dog, he looks everywhere else strutting around like a chicken and is joined by one of the more stylish pigeons, while the others, safe and hungry on their tall perches look down in envy and indecisiveness, when suddenly comes a yellowing man out of the bar sending the stylish one away in a flutter while the hero, perhaps used to a few dangers as his ragged tail suggested, continues to play chicken until there comes riding to the bar a helmeted man in a thumping motorbike that’s too much even for the hero who flies back to the electric line overhead, and I go back home.


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