My day started as it usually does. I half opened my eyes: clear, sunny morning with a cool breeze in our loft, in my city, Dilli; you know the one – if there be heaven on earth, this is it, this is it – penned by a Mughal emperor who I guess fancied himself a poet too. Well I agree with him so he must have been an okay fellow.
Sundari nudged me awake with a gentle tweak of her beak.
I stretched, fluffed my feathers and thought: Oh! All is right with the world.
Little did I know.
I tickled Sundari back making her puff herself in a blush. The city slept or slowly wakened below us, in the early light of dawn.
We fondled some more before soaring off in perfect symphony into the air, swooping and playing with the breeze. Then we neared our favorite morning perch, the corner balcony of apartment 801, on the eighth floor of Central Park in this new area of Dilli. It’s where we rest in the morning before going for breakfast. We have been doing it for so long that other pigeons have given up coming there now and we claim it as our own special place – just Sundari and me.
So it came as a shock when I sighted the intruder.
“Sundari, look, someone is perched in our balcony. Do you see him?”
“Yes” she said; her beak all tight. “Maybe he is like that horrible monkey who used to snarl and snap at us. He smelled bad too; and so dirty.”
“But he is not moving at all and he looks much smaller than the monkey”
“I don’t care” she puffed. “Let’s fly away.”
But I wasn’t ready to give up my special nook so easily. We flew closer and I saw that the intruder sat quietly, still as a rock. Not wanting to argue with Sundari, you know how she can get, I swooped down and positioned myself about 3 body lengths to his right. Having no choice, Sudari perched herself on his left, at first far away but then edged closer till she was about 4 feet away too and gave me a dirty look.
I sat still, wanting to look confident and in charge, hoping that would relieve her nervousness.
We both stared at the stranger intently. I screeched, fluffed feathers, swooped up and down – but nothing – no response from the stranger. I inched closer. So did Sundari. Nothing. We were there doing so many antics that I soon spotted the apartment owner behind the window curtain. He called his wife and she came and they started laughing. Well I huffed, I am not giving up this place, even though this stranger is no friend. I saw the owner bring out his camera, but by then, enough is enough, I thought, so Sundari and I swooped away.
As you can well imagine, Sundari was quite disturbed by this whole episode. She can’t forget the monkey but she has agreed that this stranger is no monkey. As the sun set over Dilli, we flew back to our loft. Far away in the distance, I can see our balcony. I sighed, thinking maybe we have to find a new morning perch. It was getting dark so I looked thinking this is goodbye; but then suddenly, as if he had seen me looking, the stranger glowed a welcoming light as if saying hello, come join me. I was dumbstruck. But yes, there he was winking, blinking and shining, sending warmth and friendship across the distance.
“Look Sundari. Look at our balcony. The stranger is calling us.”
“I don’t believe it; looking so friendly. So beautiful. He is no monkey at all. Do you think he is lonely?”
We couldn’t wait for dawn. We got up earlier than usual, when it was still dark and there he was calling us with his glow. We flew straight to the balcony without any of our morning play and perched on either side of the stranger, just as the sun rose in the east, flooding the balcony with morning light.
“Sir, would you like to be our friend and share the balcony with us?” invited Sundari.
As if in response, the stranger stopped glowing and once again became still as if not wanting to intrude, just happy to be with us, be our new friend.
I heard the flat owner calling his wife from behind the curtain. “Looks like the pigeons have adopted our new solar lamp.” They fussed and took pictures, a fancy new camera I noticed, of the 3 of us, Sundari, myself and our new friend they call Solar Lamp.
I preened and fluffed my feathers so I would look bigger than my new friend in the pictures. Sundari, like her name, is always beautiful. And I have to say, our new friend has a quiet majesty that adds to our trio.
Oh! All is right with the world. Again.