Monday 4 September 2023

Idle chatter


Screengrab from 

We were just chatting, mulling things over –

falling bird populations and their lovers,

the erosion of earth, secular values,

the policing of garments but not the shoes.

The hair, the torso and their approved covers.


All around us, the entire city was loud –

the traffic, the politics, even the clouds.

Many had forgotten how to coexist

with their neighbours, voted in jingoists,

ignored the rights the constitution allowed.


The voiceless are always sidelined and othered

whether human beings or a plain looking bird.

It’s been years since you’ve looked at those on the fringe

or thought about them, shifted even an inch,

nor turned down the volume so they could be heard.


Only the rich and resplendent are prized.

The ordinary’s always marginalised.

We sighed, fell quiet as old friends often do,

by and by the silence was pierced by a coo.

Some find a song even when they’re compromised.


I wondered aloud if that was a good thing? - 

bird populations going down singing?

My friend stared and said, ‘not even a slim chance!’

But the universe does find its own balance,

with or without men and their petty failings.

It's been the usual crazy out here. Just scooting in to post this and scooting right out again. If the gadget on the sidebar shows the number of posts in any month being less than the regulation requirement of four - that gives me the heebie jeebies. It's super strange that I should be able to post through the most monumental, hectic life changes and then suddenly can't because well, I've come back home now, all the travelling and relocations finally done and dusted. It happens only in India! :) 

I was part (albeit the silent, listening part) of a conversation centred around falling bird populations, which an elderly Calcuttan was lamenting. Both this post and the last one came out of that. That and the non-stop churn of the fake news machines and the whatsappisms. 

Birds are not only birds of course. They are harbingers of hope, they are ill omens of death too. They are symbols of wisdom and peace as well as greed and evil, their nests are used for marketing models as well as the most beautiful metaphors for home and women's eyes. They are part of our mythology and idioms and slang, and life in general, in overarching ways. It boggles my mind to think of losing them, or of any other, less resplendent species, or less resplendent populations of humans for that matter. Who decides what's the definition of resplendent anyway? Diversity is what makes the planet and the nations beautiful, inclusion is a necessary condition of survival, even of the most ordinary. Without the least resplendent, we all wither and disappear. 

Have a brilliant week. 


  1. Hari Om
    Well said that woman! The current leaderships of a number of places seem only to wish for a uniformity that can only lead to destruction... diversity is the very key to life! YAM xx

  2. Ouch. Birds are feathered enchantment for me - including the lbjs (little brown jobs). How I wish that diversity was not only valued but celebrated. And that the ordinary was given its due.

    1. Ordinary will have to be given its due otherwise all extraordinary and mundane will vanish together. Nature is on the warpath...

  3. So much of what you say here is true here in the USA too. Unfortunately.

    1. The good is limited to pockets the bad I'm afraid is global or well on its way to becoming that.

  4. the bird symbolism is too apt. I look at our bird feeder and it was silent for a month or so. Now the birds are back, pushing and shoving. We shall see what that means for the remaining fall and winter quarters. Your writing and thinking makes me try harder.

    1. I'm so glad to know that your birds are back! - it's eerie to imagine a garden without them.

  5. "The voiceless are always sidelined and othered." nailed it Nila with this whole poem. The marginalised are becoming more so.
    Hope your settling back home is going beautifully. Twice a month is quite enough for me to post. I salute you and four!

    1. It's anxiety inducing the way the marginalised are being pushed aside with so much unkindness.
      Settling back home is still kinda unsettled haha. Topsy turvy rules, topsy turvy state, not getting better anytime soon...

  6. Hi Nila - I guess I've been in your state - and just not been here ... must catch my tail - it's not feathered! I too wish people would think about others and value their lives, even in the smallest of ways. The one thing I've changed in the last 40 years or so ... is I always smile, and mostly not get cross at how challenging some minor things are - thinking people should be more responsible and aware ... sadly they're so often not. We are one universe - the natural world is a major player in that sphere, we are but minor disrupters ... we may put ourselves out/end humanity, but the world will work its own magic. Thanks for making me think - and all the best as more time passes for you being back home - cheers Hilary.