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The cacophony from outside, unusual as it was, made me pause momentarily, letting go of a different sort of cacophony I had been immersed in, Facebook and Twitter and the millions of voices from across the globe, sharing views, expressing anguish, happiness, triumph, sometimes fighting, mostly criticizing, frequently trolling… you name it, it is all there. I could ignore the ones on my monitor, but the ones from without had to be attended to immediately.

I stepped out on to the balcony to investigate. Across the street is a drumstick tree standing in my neighbor’s backyard. I immediately noticed a flurry of activity on its branches. Tiny things, no bigger than cotton balls with beaks and wings fitted, otherwise called Sunbirds, were hopping from one branch to another, extremely agitated, their indignation quite evident. Whoa! A bird fight? This was something I didn’t want to miss.

Looking more closely, I found a pair of the difficult-to-spot-in-greenery Barbets on a different branch. Interesting. Was it a Sunbirds versus Barbets battle? But wait, what’s this?! The fight did not seem to be between them. They had ganged uo against a third party. Who was the mysterious third party, sitting monk like on a top branch? The little birds took turns to fly close to it, all the while excitedly chirping. If I had to take a guess and translate, they were telling the third-party-bird to vamoose. Pronto!

The third-party-bird was clearly hurt by what it considered an unwarranted attack. I was sitting here minding my own business, its demeanor suggested. Or may be it was something like: I lost my way and instead of being sympathetic, you thingamabobs attack poor ‘ol me! One could read it all so clearly from the expression on its face. It stood its ground, not letting itself be intimidated by the little meanies trying to chase it away. It’s a free world for birds. Unlike humans we don’t need visas to visit anywhere. Besides, what have I ever done to you, it seemed to ask. But the ‘bullies’ persisted. We don’t buy your innocent look, you big bad bird. You don’t belong here. This is our ‘ilaaka’. You gotta leave. And now! The others took up the chant of the leader. Leave! Leave! LEAVE!

Unnerved by the continued tirade, the offended third-party bird decided to fly away. Pah! What an unfriendly neighborhood. I am never going to come back here. Fortunately though, it did come back later, and is careful to so only when everyone is asleep. I hear it late at night and smile to myself, glad that it is still around.

The what-did-I-ever-do-to-you expression cannot be missed.

[This is a blast from the past. It happened a few years back. The bird ‘show’ happened too far and only when I blew up the picture to a reasonable size did I realize that the ‘third-party’ being chased was a Jungle Owlet.]

© Shail Mohan 2019

And I am back….!