The birds had started making their way back home. I had sneaked into the fields. It was cooler there. I could see sunlight quickly receding towards the horizon. It was my favorite time of the day. Fresh from the afternoon sleep, I set for my destination. I had to come back before it was dark.
We had our summer vacations. And as a ritual, we were spending it at our Nani’s village. Most of my profound childhood memories are marked by this place. It was so beautiful and unpredictable. There were so many things that fascinated me. The fields beyond the mango farm was one of those things. I liked walking on the ridges of the irrigation canals. They connected the entire farm. I looked at the sky. The hues were shifting with every passing moment. All the different shades of red. I rushed forward as I crossed the jackfruit trees. It was the end of the farm, faced by a mini jungle of Bamboo trees. They made all kind of noise when the wind blew hard. The constant shatter and struggle, and yet they survived together for years. There was a hill to be found if you went a little deeper in the trees. Everyone at home told us the stories of snakes infesting that hill and how it was completely forbidden to go the Bamboo trees. I promised myself to keep that adventure for another day, and made my way around the trees. I kept walking for 10 minutes when I finally reached the fields.
It was a vast plain. There were patches of green and brown, stretching all the way to the horizon. A railway track cut across far away. A serpent was sliding over it. We called it “Paanch Pachhis ki Gaadi” (train of 5:25). It was one of those elements that made this place I used to so look forward to. Marching forward the field, looking over the few farms that appeared and faded away, I walked with the train whistling in the background. I could see that Babool tree. The lonely tree that stood in the west. With the Sun setting in the background, I imagined the tree with the Halo. Can trees have Halo? Though I was rushing towards the tree, it was not the tree that I was most interested in. It was the Maina’s nest on that tree. A raw structure of brown pulp, devoid of any green, the tree protruded out of the ground like a huge thorn. A thorn that was home to someone. I found it so ironic when I first found the place. But I realized later what it really was.
It took me a week of decision making before I climbed the tree. I recognized the color of the sky when mother Maina returned home. And she used to come home singing. I figured that taking a peek will not harm anyone. Climbing trees came natural to me. And within seconds I was face to face with the thing which had intrigued me for the last week. Two little eggs lay there. I was careful not to touch the nest or the eggs. The sky had a deeper shade of red. I recognized that shade. I could hear the song. I came down from the tree and made my way back. The song of the birds and the rushing water, mango trees overlooking the pond, everything looked more colorful that day. I had a smile on my face. After all, I had found something to look forward to.
The birds had started making their way back home. I had sneaked into the fields. It was cooler there. I could see sunlight quickly receding towards the horizon. It was my favorite time of the day. Fresh from the afternoon sleep, I set for my destination. I had to come back before it was dark. “Vacation will be over in a few days. I will have to leave. How can I leave without seeing them hatch”. I had been following my evening schedule for the last three weeks. The farms. The bamboo trees. The train. And the Maina’s nest.
I was standing under the Babool tree, looking up at the nest. It was unusual for the mother bird to be home at this time. The sky was only light orange. The bird was looking at me. It did not flutter and looked completely calm. It did not feel like she was looking at me for the first time. Did she knew I visited her nest everyday? Was I living in a fool’s world assuming myself to be an invisible person? Many questions popped in my mind at that moment. I had forgot my original purpose and was lost in a stare off with the mother bird. I sat beside a rock near the tree.
It was already dark, but I did not feel like leaving. I could still see those little beaks. I knew why the mother bird was at home out of routine. I knew why she was so calm and composed. The family was complete know. The Babool tree and the three birds. With a fourth bird looking at it with sparkling eyes. I ran back towards my home, mimicking a cuckoo who was singing nearby. I had springs in my feet. Few more days of the vacation and I can keep coming back till then. Our tree. I wished to see the kids growing up. May be I could spend more time with the kids by coming earlier. May be I could meet them when their mother was not around. I had a smile on my face. Once again, I had found something to look forward to.