Sunday 20 August 2017 News Updated at 01:08 PM IST
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Before life could begin... - Deccan Herald
Before life could begin...
Bharathi Prabhu,
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Apple blossom and swallows. Watercolor bird on spring branch with nest and blooming flowers. Hand painted illustration on white background
The bulbuls were a familiar sight. Almost always in a pair, they flew around shrubs and trees around the house. Spotting them amidst all the green was a favourite pastime. Slowly they even started flying in and out of the compound, and we would hear their loud whistles. Recently, when the fir plant in front of the kitchen window became the bird’s resting spot, my joy knew no bounds. I could see the red underbelly and the crown with great clarity. Was it favouring the plant for the insects? When we saw some straw and twigs on the plant, we realised that the bird was building a nest.

Over a period of days, the nest began to take a discernible shape. The bird kept bringing material in its beak. No transport strike to affect this construction. We did not know whether the bird was male or female. My son decided to name it Raani.

We all delivered the "Yen bulbul, maatadakkilva?” the famous dialogue from the movie Nagarahavu, at the bird. She remained silent, of course, and was involved in frenetic nest building. This paradoxically forced us to slow down. I did not want to switch on the mixie while Raani was around for fear of shooing her away; we tiptoed to observe the nest in her absence, and I took to closing the windows so the kitchen noises did not disturb her life-giving activity. Everybody at home wanted to see Raani’s nest first thing in the morning. With mounting excitement, we waited for the eggs to be laid.

We were soon rewarded with a walnut-sized pink egg. Raani took up the task of incubation in all earnestness. We cautiously approached the nest to click pictures when she was away and discovered another egg. Raani continued her vigil. She sat for hours at a stretch on her eggs. We admired her patience. We also learnt of her tenaciousness when she hung on to the swaying plant on a rainy night, not budging from her eggs. My knowledgeable help, who was amused by our excitement, informed us that the incubation period was around 10 or 12 days. So, the chicks were to appear anytime soon. We don’t know when it happened, but the next time we peered into the nest, there was a lump that seemed to move!

Feeling elated and still waiting for the next egg to hatch, we retired for the night.

The next morning, the first thought as I glanced at the nest was that it was lower down: with a sense of foreboding, I took a closer look, only to find the hatchling and the egg gone. A cat ran away from the nook even as I approached. We were shocked at this loss. But worse was to come. As day broke, the bird flew back and made frenzied noises. It flew up and down the plant. The partner joined in, and it was heartbreaking to sense the couple’s loss. There was nothing to be done. As I shared the sad news with friends who had also cooed at the pretty pictures of the nest and the egg, they all said, "Sad, but this is the circle of life.” I only wish that the circle was one where the hatchlings had flown away and returned to lay their eggs.