What does the koel bird sing about so urgently every morning?
These days, I stumble out of the bed, usually cursing the clock, the yet to rise sun and all sundry, at about 5 in the morning. Once the utter disgust at the hour passes, I pull up my nice chair with the ivory inlay work to my balcony, put my feet up on the edge and settle in with the laptop, house coat and all, for there is a nip in the air. Then I write, or work, most often it is both.
The koel is my companion every morning, though I don’t see her very often. She has issues with her appearance perhaps, of her voice she is immensely proud. I don’t know what she goes on about; she is loud, and if she were a crow, I would have called her cantankerous.
I sit outside and let my lungs breathe in the only pure air I shall probably get all day. The sky is dark. Perhaps the koel is urging the sun to come out the horizon soon. He does, exasperated at her tone of urgency, anything to shut her up. One or two squirrels are slowly stirring out and greeting each other loudly too. Does everyone in the city have to be so loud? How else would they hear and be heard above the honking, the voice asks me in my head.
My horizon from the balcony, above a clump of coconut trees on the next road starts to brighten. Little puffs of spotless white clouds appear over my head, looking the way a roll of cotton would look after it fell into the hands of a child, all torn apart and scattered over the floor. A wood pigeon in the city sits on the neighbour's terrace, silhouetted against the light blue sky this morning.
The koel is louder now. The squirrel is too. They hurry the morning in. Life stirs up below my first floor flat. The temple door opens, an auto honks and whizzes by playing loud music, people come to fetch water from the public tank, my neighbours, a family that, like mine, loves to sit out and talk to each other, wakes up, we greet each other. Maids come into houses, a rice cooker whistles somewhere, the first of the vendors enter my lane selling vegetables and strings of jasmine, someone retches, disgustingly loud.
The koel is singing still, though her voice is masked a little now by people and cars. Mr Squirrel is harping on too about something. I think of the little houses we have built for squirrels, back home. The sun is up now and so are people. It is time I went back in then.
I tell the koel I will see her tomorrow morning. I still don’t understand why she sings so beautifully or what her song is for. Maybe she sings for the mere joy of it, I could understand that. Maybe I will ask her tomorrow.
She will be restless again tomorrow, I know her. I am restless too. She sings what I think about every morning. We suit each other that way, us morning creatures.