I am a Bird

Everything in monotone, dances of browns and dirt, Palampur started to feel like a dear deserted ocean. The grace of this winter oasis is undeniably late. It has not rained here in ages.

I slept under a fragile drizzle, and today I woke up to its blissful grace.

It rained today.

The dull, soft winter colors have turned deep, dark, and dominant. The details on the textures are sophisticated and sharp. The patterns have aligned back into shape. Life is on drugs.

I want to go see what has been hidden, what new treasures shall I find in today’s novel reveal?

But, it is cold. Too cold.

My biases are false and so are my assumptions. I have learned how to surrender.

To give up the desire for a certain way and to just be with the flow turns out to be an extremely practical philosophy. The universe, or existence, or whatever, keeps sending presents. When you just let go, every day becomes your birthday.

Standing at the edge of the rainfall, in this moment of surrender, I see this –

Another bird, another creature, neither special nor vain, ordinary, frugal, and tender, The Grey-Backed Shrike (Lanius tephronotus). Gloriously standing on top of a human-ugliness, it has epitomized and graced this moment of my presence. My joy is profound.

I read this as a sign to “stop” and “look”.

Watching a creature in its absolute self is a very powerful exercise of detachment. In flow-state, you become the bird, the tree, or whatever you observe. This art of looking becomes a divine, spiritual act of being, just like the art of listening turns a guitarist into a musician.

There is a newfound love and appreciation for Photography. Never have I ever looked at things with such stillness before.

A thorny tree with red-sun leaves graces the entryway of this campsite. Looking for little insects and bugs on the ground to catch, the shrike perches still and grand.

look around for clearance,
dive off onto the ground
dig out a bug or two
be vigilant, be alert
take off
back on the safe
still of the perch

I managed to click a few pictures in flight and hunt, but I am no bird photographer. I am just curious.

Bird photography is a very hard medium. You need patience, focus, and concentration; and you have to really love being in the wild. It demands an inherent integrity to embody stillness. Actually, the gear is expensive.

We spent a lot of time together. Keeping an eye on each other while making sure to not interfere, we somehow started to understand each other. My subtle, gentle attempts to get close were disapproved by immediate fly-offs. The boundaries were established, and we respect them.

It is too timid. Why shouldn’t it be? Humans are scary. And so am I.

Gentle, and respectful, I tried not to be an annoyance to the bird.

The rain eased, and declaring the anonymity of our relationship, I drifted off to wander.

I returned to the little guy ramming into the hall windows in an attempt to escape the ridicule that glass is for birds. Watching the scared, little guy exalted with exhaustion, the anguish was too real. I could feel its struggle, I could see the fear.

No thought exchange whatsoever, I moved towards the little guy.

I am terrified of handling little creatures. Too fragile for my 30-year-old man-hands, I am afraid I might hurt them. But right now, it feels safe. It is needed.

The “energies”, and the “vibes”, are all transparent! No malice, no moral juxtapositions, this act that I am about to do feels as easy as breathing.

Careful and steady, I walk towards it. I held it as gently as I could, but instead of resisting, it surrendered.

Maybe it was too tired, or maybe it felt safe. Maybe it had read my mind, maybe it thought of me as another bird. I don’t know. It was surreal!

As if my human touch would mean a major disgrace, I rushed outside to free it. At a moment, I thought of taking a picture, a close-up. But the ideas and mental visions felt disgraceful and molestating.

It flew off of my hands as ‘a subtle greeting’ and ‘a warm goodbye’ at the same time. Watching it go was ‘an epitome of detachment’ and ‘being one with everything’ at the same time. I discovered a bird, and became a bird, at the same time.

I am a bird.

All pictures were taken at Radkaat, Palampur.
January 2024.

Nikon D3300,
Saby Singh

Prints available.


One response to “I am a Bird”

  1. Beautiful human & a bird, dear Saby bhai

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