It is days since my fingers have done any tap-dancing. Not that I have not got tunes playing in my head for them to dance in abandon to. I do, and in plenty too. The strange thing is I don’t want to. Not for the time being anyways. Instead the urge is to step on to the balcony and simply stand staring (or should that be stand, simply staring?), doing absolutely nothing. This is what comes of including ‘On Doing Nothing’ an essay by J.B.Priestly in the curriculum of impressionable 14 year-olds. Anyways…
How can I help myself?! The sky looks so divinely blue, the fluffy clouds a freshly laundered white, and the green tops of swaying trees, utterly mesmerizing. Well, umm, it is a different matter that if the skies were an angry grey and the rain was lashing in torrents, I’d still want to stand there and stare. Did I hear someone say that I am wasting time? Whoa! Remember what the poet said? “They also serve who stand and stare!” Oh well, not exactly. What he said was something like, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” But I am sure under the circumstances he’d approve that little tweak I have given to his line.
I can see a leafy Golden Shower tree in a house down the lane. Amazingly so it has a bunch of out of season flowers. There are some bright yellow flowers growing on a bush next to the playground. The Papaya tree by the roadside, right across the balcony, has one ripe fruit as of today, and the birds are making merry by turns, savoring the sweet fruit. The cat (a new one that I haven’t seen before) jumps on to the wall of the house opposite and seems mortified that we, Luci and I, are staring. It stares right back, for a long time, a withering look that dares us to laugh at its appearance. Luci, not one to be deterred by withering looks given by cats, is beside herself at the audacity of the cheeky thing and barks at the top of her voice.
Butterflies flit to and fro, the bigger ones so snooty that they do not condescend to alight on the ixora or the purple flowers of the garlic vine. The Sunbirds are not so discriminatory. They chatter happily as they flutter from flower to flower, feeding on honey. When they become aware of either me or Luci, they make a quick dash to the boundary wall at the other end. Their flight reminds me of little girls who take small sideways steps even as they run to do their mother’s bidding. There is more I have started noticing: how the flight of the birds differ, how the Mynas swoop and fly in a straight line, the Oriental Magpie Robins weaving this way and that, the way Red-whiskered Bulbuls dive into the bushes, how shy the White-cheeked Barbets are and how brazen the Asian Koel, what a racket Rufous Treepies make, and the shrill stereo effect call of the tiny Tailor birds which has to be heard to be believed.
The Greater Coucal bends its head down and goes, “Gup-gup-gup-gup” There is no answering gup, not yet anyway. Not wanting the bird to feel lonely, I respond, “Gup-gup-gup-gup”. The L & M is not at home to raise his eyebrows and remind me of what the neighbours might think. At the most they’d think a batty old lady lives in the house next door. I am okay with that. In the meantime, my “Gup-gup-gup-gup” has been unscrambled and found to be wanting of the secret code of Coucals. Suspecting infiltration, the bird promptly shuts up, waits for some time and then tries again.
The tree outside my window, of which I was very fond, was cut down by my neighbors (their tree of course), breaking my heart, as also part of the cement roof of the kennel in our house. Being very “conscientious” neighbors, they had not even informed us of their intentions, even though the tree stood very close to the boundary wall and could have endangered anyone walking that way. Anyways, that tree is now sprouting new leaves in spite of the major surgery it had. From every major ‘cut’ in life, we are forced to grow, never in the same way perhaps, never with the same zest may be, but nevertheless we continue living, drawing sustenance from whatever resources are available. Or from an illusion of available resources.
Yes, that’s another fall-out of this balcony watch. You tend to philosophize on life. Trying to be an amateur philosopher and all is fine, but too much amateur philosophizing while standing and staring, causes legs to ache, especially if you have plantar fasciitis. So I pull out THE chair (link) which Luci promptly tries to usurp from me yet again. But I fool her by talking of non-existent cats on the road, and she snorts and rushes off to check. I chuckle and seat myself. On realizing that she has been duped, not to be outdone, she decides to sit on the peg table that I had intended to rest my feet on.
After a while Luci gets tired of fitting her huge Labradorean bum in such a limited space. Now that she has proved her point, she jumps down and plops on the floor beside me and I immediately put my feet up. I read and she snores. Nothing could be better, except that this routine is clashing with the tap-dancers, my fingers. They are feeling left out. All we do is turn pages on the Kindle, they grumble. We are not being allowed to express our creativity. We are being stifled. We wanna do the tap dance.
So I thought it was time to let them dance.
An earlier one on another balcony: Balcony watch.