Tag Archives: sunset

The Nest

There’s a pigeon in my kitchen. She’s a lovely grey, if there’s even such a thing as lovely grey. It’s not silver, it’s just a clean warm earthy grey, accented by highlights and shadows from the sun catching her feathers. She frequents my kitchen window, and there’s a twelve-twigged hint of an upcoming nest on the parapet outside. I presume they have something to do with each other.

But today, for the first time, I find her inside my kitchen. She’s crossed the windowpane, a feat no other bird of this bashful species (or any species for that matter) has dared to attempt before. Somehow the birds always know to stay out of houses, even when windows and doors are left ajar. I imagine the thought of the imminent confinement scares them away.

And yet, and yet, Pidge the pigeon (I have decided to name her) is in my kitchen, stomping on the cold black granite with her orange claws, pacing up and down the kitchen counter in a hurry, like she has important business to attend to on the top of the fridge, but this can hardly wait for the important business that needs attention on the opposite end by the sink.

She stops for a breath every now and then, her neck’s purple green plumage vibrant in the sunlight, and cocks her head up to look at me. I must seem quite unthreatening to her, for she gets back to her many businesses immediately, marching across my kitchen counter, no time to waste.

***

I’m back in the kitchen. There’s the human standing at the doorway and looking at me. She lets out a low gasp at first, but I look at her and calm her down. She switches on the fan, and continues standing at the doorway and staring at me. I can tell she’s scared, but also curious. We’ve seen each other before, but always across the windowpane. This is the first time we are on the same side.

She smiles at me, and I can’t bear it. I think she’s named me in her head. The other birds warned me this often happens when a bird crosses the windowpane in the presence of a human. This, or death. I’m glad it’s the former.

My heart beats faster in my chest, and I don’t know what to do. I’m walking from one end to another frantically, trying to get my thoughts in order. I look at her, time and again. She seems calm now, her beautiful brown skin smooth as the insides of a worm on a warm summer afternoon, her black eyes darting across the room at things she’s worried I will kick over as I scurry around, trying my best to buy time.

She leaves momentarily, and I make the most of it. I rush to the clothes stand, and peck the fragrant pink towel as it dries, picking up each strand of her delicious black hair from it. There’s thirty six in all, and I carry them lovingly back to my developing nest, ready to spend the day weaving them in. They are weaker and finer than twigs, but smell like mogra some days and rose on others.

One day, when it’s done, I’ll invite her in.

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The Hedgehog’s Dilemma

A number of hedgehogs huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another.

It’s a theory called the Hedgehog’s Dilemma. Freud used this as an analogy for human intimacy. Apparently you can only get so close to someone without unintentionally hurting them as well as yourself.

Ah well.

What do we, as humans, run away from? Intimacy is a relative term. For you, intimacy maybe the laughter during sex. For me, intimacy maybe the comfortable quiet during a stroll in the park.
I’ll tell you what intimacy isn’t, though.
Intimacy isn’t ordinary.

Why, you might ask, would someone write a poem that doesn’t rhyme? Maybe it’s because putting too much thought into something kills the essence. If we’re too careful, we’ll turn out ordinary.
I can turn you into poetry, dear, but I can’t make you stay. There’s a difference between somebody who loves you and somebody who would do anything to keep you. It’s the difference between want and need, I think.

I’m looking at the November sunset and thinking, if day must turn to night, this is a beautiful way. Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what it needs to. And we could think of all the ways things fall out but so little of what could happen does indeed happen. There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. I’m no expert on relationships, but I know that if I’ve loved you, I’ll paint our sunset your color.

If people just lived off promises and guarantees, this world would be a broken place. People live off hope, that’s why it’s still warm, you know? Because people live off hope and try in the best way they know how. And they make their quills blunt together, so they can stay warm longer.

I can be mature and I can be poised and I can be an elegant dream, if you’d like that.
I like it some days too.

But don’t love me for that.

Most days, I’m lost. I write to find myself and I paint to get lost again. Science can’t excite me like a paradox can. I’ll forget things you say and do, but I’ll never forget the way you make me feel. I’ll forget your birthday but I won’t forget the way you smelled on our first date. I’ll stay close to anything that makes me glad I’m alive. Make me glad I’m alive.
Most days, I’m chaos.

And this chaos could be the quills that push you away or the warmth that pulls you close.
That’s for you to decide.

Who’s to say your quills won’t be sharper than mine?

We All Start As Strangers

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew – Pocahontas


At what point does a stranger stop being a stranger?

Is it when the stare lingers on one moment too long? Or when your hands brush and then don’t pull away? Is it when they voice out your thoughts for the first time?

We all have two kinds of songs we love. The first kind, you want to share with the world and sing out loud from rooftops. But there’s always the other kind, the kind you want to keep to yourself, with tender greed, extracting all the joy from it as if to feed your soul and your soul alone; as if any other soul extracting joy from it would mean less for you. With the right music, you either forget or remember everything. People can be like that too.

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter – they are so rusty, so feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. And the silence is warm and the conversation is intoxicating and there’s one part of you that’s holding you back because you know the sparks never last but there’s the other part of you that makes you realise that he’s a favourite song of the second kind, and so there’s nothing to worry about.
For once, the sparks aren’t the best part.

I don’t know when I became such a sucker for familiarity. I don’t know how it is that he is so familiar to me, or why it feels less like I’m getting to know him and more like I’m remembering who he is. How every smile, every touch brings me closer to the impossible conclusion that I’ve known him before, kissed him before, in some other existence.

You can always get to know someone by asking them straight forward questions. Where do you work? How tall are you? What did you study and where did you grow up? Grown up questions about things that grown-ups think matter. If you only ask the questions everyone else is asking, you’ll only get to know what everyone else knows.

What if I have different questions? I’m not interested in who he thinks he is. I’m not interested in who other people think he is. I don’t care what car he drives or what brands he wears. I refuse to fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from the crevices of his mind people failed to explore. I want to know what colour he likes his sunset. I want to know what he thinks of when he drives alone. I want to know what makes him sigh. These aren’t questions you can ask people, simply because these aren’t things most people know about themselves. The only answers we have ready are the ones we think matter.

I think that’s when someone stops being a stranger. When you ask them a question that makes them think and they answer it honestly, smiling as they talk, their eyes wandering, knowing they’ve never answered it before, oblivious to the part of their soul leaving through their words.

I want to talk to him, about his dreams and fears, and begin everything from the beginning. Taking time, if you think of it, is actually less time consuming. And only when the tide pulls back the sand from under your toes, you realize that you can’t hold onto something by holding on. Happiness doesn’t leave scars and peace is so difficult to remember. That’s why you need to keep it with you.

And that’s why I’d like him to stay. We all start as strangers.