Romeo and Juliet
(This is an old story I wrote while I was in India last year - came across it today while searching for some old documents. Thought it was interesting enough to be posted here. It gives an interesting glimpse into the events of that time along with what was happening at my place with these two love birds building their nest! )
It was a hot, sunny, summer morning in late April '05 when it all began…
I was sitting in the kitchen in the morning reading my daily newspaper when I saw a beautiful bird come through the kitchen window that opens in the front side of our house. I immediately liked the bird. It was little larger than a sparrow but much smaller than a crow, had a crown on its head and had a beautiful red spot on the backside over a brown body with little strips of white at the edges of its wings. It crooned in very melodious tones. I looked at it for a while and got lost again in the Load-shedding saga on the front page!
While I was going through the sports page with all the brouhaha about choosing a coach for Indian cricket team, my wife softly prodded me on my shoulder and brought my attention to a corner on the ceiling where we have tied a few nylon cords tightly across the passage for drying the clothes. The bird had a leaf blade in its beak and it was looking puzzled on how to tie it across those strings. "Oh… so they are building there nest here!" I thought and looked around for the bird's partner. Sure enough, there was another similar bird at the window - probably female as it lacked the crown. We christened the couple Romeo and Juliet! We didn't interrupt them and the couple went about their nest building frantically. Their chirping was really very sweet and all of us, including my mom, liked them!
The chirping became as familiar a sound at our home as load shedding is to Pune. The only difference being that the latter is not so welcome!
As South Africans continued mauling the West Indies, the incessant efforts of Romeo and Juliet here finally resulted in nest with two egg-sized cosy nooks! It was wonderful to see that such small birds could build such a marvel only with their beaks and persistent determination! By the way, I had quite accidentally come to know that Romeo and Juliet were "bulbuls"! It was in a local newspaper article that I read about a similar nest built somewhere else! I had read about bulbul and its singing abilities a lot in childhood stories but never seen or heard one before. I was delighted even more to know that the glamorous bulbuls had actually chosen my place to build their nest! WOW!! :-)
As the race for the Indian Cricket Coach went into its final phase, we started seeing the Romeo and Juliet sitting inside the nest for long stretches and in turns…
They were trying to hatch their eggs…
Along with the arrival of Greg Chappell, and a near simultaneous come back of Kimi Raikkonen to winning ways in Formula One, Juliet started bringing in some very soft feathers from God knows where! She made a lot of mess around house but must have made her own home quite clean - how very Indian! ;-)
As Sharad Pawar and Bal Thackeray pronounced their liking and respect for each other in a public rally, something equally unusual happened here. At about 10 o'clock at night, as saas-bahus went about their endless battles in equally endless TV serials in our hall, I noticed Romeo still sitting near the nest while on my way to kitchen for a glass of water. Usually, he would leave the nest alone in the evening with Juliet and returned only in the mornings. We immediately knew that the babies had arrived! It spread a lot of excitement around house and I was happy to get rid of the boring duel on screen for some time at least!
The next morning, I heard a piercing cry emanating from where I had just seen my wife standing! "Not unusual," I thought, "Must be a cockroach or a lizard or some poor pest!" I left the horse-trading to Bihar politicians and proceeded to see what happened. To my surprise, it was no pest but Romeo that caused the scream! He was sitting in the kitchen window with a large (dead) grasshopper in his beak! Juliet sitting in the other window chirped and Romeo went on to the nest to feed “the treat” to his offspring. I stretched my neck and legs until it hurt but couldn’t see inside the nest! That reminded me of my daily exercise that I had missed for that day, and proceeded to complete that wondering what Ram Vilas Paswan must be thinking now!
Sure enough, the drama continued - in Bihar and at my home!
Romeo and Juliet would come with some insect or the other throughout the day and fed their children. I would get a call from my excited wife as I went about mundane stuff at my desk in office updating me about their progress. Romeo and Juliet fed them so much that it was almost unbelievable that the newborns could actually eat so much!
Well, the nature was about to answer our amazement…
While I was wondering if Roger Federer could get a cricket knee one morning, the long awaited moment arrived – one of the newborns actually lifted off from the nest! It had barely covered a few feet when it came crashing down - straight into our washbasin!! It was really cute-fat-little bird with no tail but large enough wings for its size. It looked around, panicked and started flapping its wings frantically to get out of the big, wet and white thing it suddenly found itself into! After a few unsuccessful attempts, it finally succeeded. It flew for another few feet and sat on the refrigerator in the kitchen, trying to catch its breath! The next take off and to our collective surprise, it was out of the window and into the world – completely on its own!
A few minutes later, the second one took off too. They both went their respective ways! Leaving the home of their lives… forever!
Looking back, it seemed like a flash when I had noticed Romeo with the first leaf blade. The nest remains in its place. The mornings come and so does the newspaper. But we are waiting for next summer when, hopefully, another pair of Romeo and Juliet would come chirping down the window to fill our house with excitement again!
Till then, let’s see if Narain Karthikeyan can give similar excitement by winning a point in the Formula One! :-)