A Pretty Avian Visitor

Dawn break on 21st December 2012  -  from my 15th floor residence

Dawn break on 21st December 2012 – from my 15th floor residence

December 21, 2012. The day dawned with much promise with a spectacular view. Being neither a believer nor a sceptic I had no fear or illusions that it is the day of the Apocalypse. Being a holiday, I knew however that I could spend my time in enriching endeavours and nurturing practices. So switching off the phone and the internet, my day progressed in prayer and introspection. After lunch I settled in to watch television.  Half way through the programme I was distracted by some unusual bird calls in my balcony. Normally I have only mynahs and pigeons for avian visitors. This call seemed to be different.

I looked out. My myopic eyes could make out a small green and red tiny bird on my clothes stand. I wanted to get a better view but did not want to scare the birdie. So I moved quietly closer. Thankfully the sliding door was open and I stepped into the balcony.

Emerald Lorikeet also known as the orange billed Lorikeet - my guest!

Emerald Lorikeet also known as the orange billed Lorikeet – my guest!

The bird looked at me carefully. I held out my hand and inched closer little by little. I wanted to gain the confidence of the bird that I meant no harm. It hopped from the clothes stand to the air conditioner. I went in to get some broken pieces of walnuts for the bird. It was still there. Observing me watchfully. But not for long. As I reached out gently, almost touching it, it flew away. I felt very sad. The bird evidently had flown away from its home (read cage!) and seemed disoriented. It banged against the French window of my balcony a couple of times.

My daughter, Aathira, told me that the bird is a Lorikeet. I surfed the net in an effort to find out more about the bird.

The vibrantly hued Lorikeet on my air conditioner's top

The vibrantly hued Lorikeet on my air conditioner’s top

Lorikeets are small to medium sized arboreal parrots. They are mostly natives of coastal areas around the Australasian region comprising Australia, South East Asia, Polynesia, Indonesia and  Papua New Guinea. They have a brilliant plumage and hence are extremely attractive. They live on a diet of nectar, pollen and berries and hence as pets need a specialized diet. This bird seemed to be a juvenile as the beak was ivory in colour. It is when they mature that it turns orange in colour giving it its name – Orange billed Lorikeet or Emerald Lorikeet. These particular Lorikeets are natives to the subtropical and tropical mountains of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They are intelligent, entertaining and stunningly beautiful birds.

It made me very sad to see the bird fly away. If it does not find its way back to its home, it might not survive. Which brought me to the crux of the problem. Why do people want to have birds as pets in cages? A bird becomes one only when it is free to soar into the blue sky and fly around seamlessly. We moan and groan, gripe and whine about our freedom when it is curtailed. We make such a noise about our loss of freedom. It would be worthwhile to keep this in perspective when we cage birds – well, it could be even equal to sentencing the bird to death!

Birds in cages suffer from malnutrition, improper environment, loneliness and stress due to confinement according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The New York Times has reported that many birds “go off the deep end when they are … placed in captivity. … The resulting frustration, [Cambridge University zoologist Dr. James Serpell] said, leads to abnormalities like repetitive behaviour  in which the bird’s head weaves back and forth, or in which it shifts constantly from one foot to the other; abnormal grooming in which the bird picks out all of its feathers, and aggressive behaviour.”

I fondly hope and pray my little friend has safely reached it cage!

Anamika: The Nameless One

When the nation was outraged at the horrific gang rape, I sat numb with shock. I did not want to even watch television news – I knew the gory details will be splashed all over and haunt me in a long time to come. The inputs I got was from an occasional media report I read – and I was not sure if I should believe that. Most of the Indian media sucks… they dramatize issues and then push them into oblivion; they make a furore and never follow up; there is paid news and partisan news. So where will I get authentic information from?

Am sure the incident made the World to sit up and watch the horror tragedy that unfolded – thanks to the hooligans. And what a sullied image for a land that was at some time in the distant past considered the Deva Bhumi, Land of Gods! Recently (on 10th December) I listened to a video conference where the key speaker referred to India as a land of rapists. I was livid. Within a week’s time we proved ourselves that we were!!

I am not going to write about the rape and rave against it. Enough has been done already by the media – both the print and the visual. My thoughts at this time are just about the hapless 23 year old physiotherapist who bore the monstrous atrocity. The Press calls her AMANAT meaning The Precious one. I will call her ANAMIKA. The Nameless one. For it was her, on that fateful day. Today / Tomorrow it could be we or our mothers, sisters or daughters.

I am amazed at the love for life in this young girl. She has been abused most heinously; yet she is spunky enough to put up a brave fight with Lord Yama (the God of Death according to Hindu Mythology). And it looks as if she would be successful in her efforts. As I write this I understand that she is taken off the ventilator. May God bless her and keep her safe.

I wonder what life after will it be for her, once she recoups. For this is a country where rape is a word synonymous with stigma and ostracism; where rape victims are treated as if they invited the rape; where insitutions need proof to establish that the rape has happened to punish the guilty; where nobody spares them – neither the law and order institutions like the police and judiciary nor even the society. I see that the youth is solidly behind her – going by the visuals at the Raisina Hills and Parliament street today. That is so very heart warming. Thanks to the cyber initiatives that have woken up the average Indian from slumber and sent strong messages to the authorities in power.

However future holds some issues for this young girl: What physical challenges will she have to face? Intestinal transplant (sourced from a brain dead person or from a living donor) which is still in an experimental stage seems to be an option as doctors have removed her intestines to ward off gangrenes and subsequent threat to her life. That she is also showing early symptoms of Sepsis (Blood infection) is a dampener, however.

More than the physical aspects, what about the mental and spiritual aspects? Will she be able to walk around free without stares and jeers?

Will she be able to distance herself from the constant reminders that her private and personal space has been inhumanly violated?

Will she be able to lead a normal life? I guess she might also need countless sessions of counselling to put back the traumatic experience. Only time can tell.

The Shift has happened. December 21 has sure shifted the collective Indian conscience. Is this the beginning of the Indian Spring? Or is it the beginning of India’s very own Jasmine Revolution? Whatever it is, authorities better remember the collective power of the masses. If not, like today, they can only flex muscles and suppress; but won’t that give rise to many more uprisings which will be too hot to handle? It’s worth watching as to how things will shape up. Or have I said something too soon? Will this issue of safety for women be forgotten like many other issues that ail and flail our country?

P.S: To me this girl, ANAMIKA is a hero: An ordinary individual who has found the strength to persevere and endure in spite of thoroughly overwhelming obstacles. (Adapted from Christopher Reeves’ definition of a Hero).

P.P.S: God bless you my dear girl. May you heal in body and soul. May your pain cease and your strength increase. May you find strength to strive for better and the courage to be different. May your fears be released and may blessings and love surround you. The entire nation is praying for you and am sure prayers of over 1 billion people will have a positive and nurturing effect!

ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ।। (Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthihi)