A pigeon flutters down and settles on the narrow ledge outside the window. My flat is on the eighth floor. A peek, straight down the ledge, would be scary for most of us. The pigeon does not look worried! It is normal for birds I guess. After all they fly higher, way higher than eight floor buildings. The pigeon is busy preening itself. Cleaning the dirt from its feathers. It is in no hurry. Occasionally it looks around. Checks if the skies are clear of high flying eagles. That could be a problem if you are a pigeon. Once in a while, they swoop down and carry off helpless baby pigeons or squabs as they are called. Yes, I just did some research on that! Silly name squabs, I think. Baby pigeons sounds so much better. I also looked up at the sky. No eagles as far as my eyes can see.
There is a reason, why like the pigeon on my window sill I also look out for eagles. Some years back a pigeon , in fact a pair of them , built a nest outside my window. A few days later there was an egg in the nest. When the egg hatched, the baby pigeon or squab if you wanted to be precise became the center of attention not only of its parents but everyone in our house. Then one day a big, bad eagle flew down and scared the papa and mama pigeon away. It tried to snatch the baby right in front of my eyes. I was standing near the window when the eagle flew down. With its huge talons it grabbed the window grills. It was poking its head through the gap in the grille, attempted to grab the baby, which was screaming its head off in bird-language. I tried to shoo the eagle away. Any normal bird would not dare come so close to a human. This eagle was different. It looked at me with its piercing, brown eyes and ignored me completely ! May be it was the confidence that came with its razor sharp beak and talons. Long story short, I managed to shoo the eagle away. That evening the nest and pigeons disappeared . I am not sure what happened but to this day, I hope it was carried away by its parents to a safe place. I also hope that the baby pigeon grew up to fly and see the world around our neighborhood.
As I return from flash-back mode to the real world, my focus returns to the pigeon. The one on the window sill. I do not think it has any plans to build nests or lay eggs. It is too busy preening and cleaning itself. Then it stops suddenly, turns and looks at me. Separating it from me is a glass window pane – to prevent the dust from coming in, a thin steel wire mesh – to keep out the mosquitoes – and a strong iron grille – to keep us from toppling down. The grille covered the entire window. The glass and mesh could be slid in place. The pigeon looks at me through these multiple layers of protection. I think it would be laughing.
What could it be thinking? Do ‘intellectual thoughts’ run through its little bird-brain? Does it wonder what is wrong with us humans ? Does it surprise the birds that we build such huge nests and then add doors and windows to shut ourselves in. Off late birds and animals around the world must be experiencing a lot of mixed emotions. With social – distancing and lock-down rules all around, once busy streets and play grounds are now empty. That is if you discount the various animals and birds that have taken over the space. The air has cleared and pollution levels has settled down like never before. I wonder what the animal world has to say about us humans stuck in our own nests. Do they feel pity for us? Do they feel it is justified that we are now caged and have our movement restricted ?
Does my pigeon, the one I left on the window sill, feel this change in the air? It has by now completed its preening and with one last look at me in my cage flies away and is soon lost somewhere in the deep blue skies.