Dawn was breaking.
I simply love the loud chirping of the different varieties of birds early in the silent mornings. The birds were all fluttering out as if their mothers had cast them out of the nest to go to school or to earn their bread. I could imagine the little one whisper to herself, “All Mammas are alike. Always shouting and always angry.” It looked like a crowd of schoolchildren gathered together in a playground after a full day of struggling around with books and pencils.
A little later, I could hear the azaan (the Islamic call for prayer) from a slightly distant mosque and the temple bells ringing from a nearby Shiv mandir.
The auntyji residing on the top floor in the building adjacent to ours was already up and running on her terrace. Yes. She uses her terrace as a jogger’s park for her morning walk. With the hose pipe in her hand and a datun (neem twig) in her mouth, she keeps running from left to right and right to left. In between she stops to check if any of the overhead water tanks are overflowing. “Namaste aunty!”, I said a little loudly so that my voice reaches her hearing aid. “Namaste Beta!”, she responded with a lovely toothless smile. She was yet to wear her dentures. I wondered what the datun was for. Must be the poor gums.
I went inside to get my cup of coffee. As I stepped out, the newspaper fresh from the press landed bang on the main door. I went and picked it up. I saw Srini Anna sweeping the front portion of his flower shop that he runs in one of the garages in the adjacent building. “Namaskaram Anna (Greetings elder brother)!”, I said. “Namaskaram Akka (Greetings elder sister)!”, he shouted back with the most content smile. It makes me wonder how in India we can so easily make so many relatives without any blood relation. Bhaiya, beta, uncleji, auntyji, bhai sahab, didi, bhabhiji, babuji, mataji…the list is endless. I stayed on to watch Srini Anna sprinkle water mixed with turmeric powder all around the shop. I love the speed and precision with which he sprinkles the water. Every single drop falling on the ground almost at the same time and with the same distance between them.
That’s when I saw Khannaji panting for breath while holding his paunch from falling down. He was climbing up the stairs after his jogging routine. Mrs. Khanna was waiting for him outside the door of the house with a towel and a huge blender bottle filled with full-cream buffalo milk. I am sure she would have already made preparations for making his favourite simmering hot aloo ki paranthi with dahi and aam ka achar. The thought made me drool at this wee hour of the day. The love story of their arranged marriage makes me envious. When he returns in the evening, he calls Mrs.Khanna to the nearby market and they have 2-3 plates of Gol Gappas. Isn’t that love? Of course, I’m not jealous like his mother who at 78 rushes out in competition, snatches the bottle from the daughter-in-law and offers it to her son. Ufff!!!
As I sit back on the chair in my terrace garden to sip my cup of coffee, a cute little guest arrives. A lovely mix of green and blue with a long beak. It was the size of a tennis ball. Ney…a little bigger. May be the size of an orange. I think it was either a sun-bird or a humming-bird. Whatever! It went from plant to plant and finally perched on the white hibiscus which was in full bloom. The humming sound it made was just divine. It went from one flower to the other a sucking out nectar. I simply couldn’t blink for I feared that I might lose track of it. The white hibiscus acted like a perfect background to reflect the rich colors of the bird. What a lovely sight it was! Within seconds it just vanished into thin air. And here I was getting ready to capture a glimpse on my ‘smartphone’ camera. I think they should now invent something really ‘smart’ that helps our eyes capture every single glimpse before a blink. Don’t you think so?
All I could capture was this flower on which it sat for the longest time.
The mobile phone alarm buzzed and the screen read, “T-Rex, will you get up please! It’s 5.30 a.m. Rush!”
I speedily gobbled up the leftover coffee and rushed into the house to get on with the day’s chores.
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