“Red, Pink, Black, Green, Yellow, Peach”.
“No, not peach, its fuschia.”
“What? Come again, Fu…fu…uuschhiaa, What’s that?”
“Its the colour of Delhi, my dear, at this time of winter. Can’t you see flowers blooming, with enchanting aroma around you, lending an ever sweet flavour to the hair raising cold..”
“But, Kavita, these Delhiwallas are strange”
“I don’t know. Just look at their plumes, its a riot of colours . I just don’t understand how can their plumes grow so long in two three months and that too daily in different colours. Our city had none of it. These are a strange species!”
“No, my dear Mukesh, you are mistaken. These are not plumes, these are sweaters. They don’t grow, but are purchased from the market, for a few hundred rupees”
“Oh!, You little old woman, you spoilt all my fun. I am going to the chaupal. No. no. Sorry. Its the Conference Hall now. Affected people with all their strange terminologies. Anyways, there is to be a new kabootar there, all the way coming from the upper regions of himalayas. The Hill Baba, they are calling him. What with all those white plumes hanging down his neck and the shining grey beak. Though, I doubt it. He seems to be an impostor , must have dipped his beak in some wet silver paint. These fakes tarnish the image of real holy men, a rare entity these days, I must say.”
“Enough, Mukesh. Come on, Let’s have breakfast first.”
“No, I don’t want your breakfast. What would you have made, anyways? The same old khichri with achar. Look at the swanky places, we have all around us, selling pizzas, burgers, macroni and a whole load of tempting, mouth watering dishes. I can’t take it anymore. I have to have a bite of that tasty snack, I want to have a piece of that multicolor plumes- what you called sweater- how boring a name for such a great looking thing.”
Kavita is silent. She is brooding over Mukesh’s monologues, fully aware that he has nowhere to go. He shuns the outer world as much as the other Kabootars shun him. He is queer, a little soft in the head. But, he was not always like this. He was a livewire, having a go-getter attitude with an easy air of jollity and happiness around him.
They used to live on the huge Peepal tree, standing proudly in the middle of colony, having a cemented seating around it, which was always crowded with gossiping adults and innocent kids playing carelessly. She had laid eggs at that time and both of them were impatiently waiting for their kids to come out into the world.
One fine day, in the wee hours of morning, Mukesh woke her up. Their eggs were trembling, soon, the cracks started appearing and they noticed pinkish beaks protruding through the hard egg shells, trying to break all the shackles and be united with them. They were dying with excitement, the wait was finally over, soon their young ones would be with them. With wet eyes and pounding heart, Kavita was dreaming about the coming happy days, when she would hold them, feed them, teach them to fly and swell with pride to see them growing up as sturdy young Kabootars ready to face the world boldly.
But, at that very moment, she heard a loud explosion, the earth trembled, the tree fell off with a thud and their life changed for forever. Their nest was broken into pieces, eggs were scattered, with blood spilling all around, coloring entire ground pink and purple with flesh covering every inch. Their peaceful world was shattered. The inevitable had happened- A Bomb Blast- which not only shook their colony, their town but their entire world as well. Their young ones and all the relatives and neighbours died. But the cruel fate had left them alive, to mourn forever.
This happened a year ago. After the fateful incident, Mukesh lost his balance , looking at each and everything around him with an innocent curiosity,but through the eyes of a bickering adult, brimming with grief and anger, overflowing with cynicism. Kavita did not know how to handle him. She shifted their residence to Delhi, with a faint hope in curing Mukesh by the combined healing power of time and and a new place.
Delhi had indeed proven lucky for them. Kavita found solace in the company of her next door neighbour Krishna aunty. They had built their nest on the topmost branches of Peepal tree and though it lacked the easy warmth of their small hometown, the busy streets of South Ex Market provided enough diversions to Mukesh. Life was slowly returning to normalcy.
“Kavita, I am going to the Pizza Corner.”
“What? Mukesh, Mukesh….What are you saying? Don’t go there. That place does not belong to us. You are not a human. For God’s sake, Mukesh, Stop.”
Kavita comes running out of the kitchen lest her husband does some stupid act and create fresh poblems. At her door steps, She hears a loud bang, that dreadful noise of shattering glasses again, a long time after that tragic bomb blast.
“But no, it can’t happen in delhi. It is safe, Police patrols in the area day and night. Every inch is being guarded in the wake of coming Republic Day. But, I did hear a thundering noise, what was it then?”
Kavita flies out of the nest and looks around. Everything seems alright. There is not even a speck of chaos, no signs of any bomb blast. She looks far and near, flying frantically, searching for Mukesh, but he is nowhere in sight. Tired, she comes back to her nest and stares at the Pizza Corner, standing tall in all its glory. But, something is amiss. She looks closely and notices a broken window pane, glass lying scattered on the ground, and amidst the shining glass , was a small pool of blood, having Mukesh in it, his beak open, wings spread and neck twisted..
“Oh, God, Mukesh….”
He had done it at last. He has become one with his kith and kin, his yet to be born kids and long lost friends and companions.
“What’s the use of my being alive now?. My Mukesh has become the victim of his misdirected curiosity and I will knowingly slip into the oblivion by following him.”
With a heavy heart, she stops flapping her wings and in a moment, there is another slight thud. Only, this time, no one is there to notice it.
The eternal lovers have been united in their unending final journey, with their mortal bodies lying there together. Motionless, Quite, Serene…..