After an arduous trek lasting about an hour I reached the grassy banks of the small lake. It was not the walk itself, which stayed uphill most of the time and then the descent on the other side of the mountain, which was demanding but rather the high humidity and warm stifling air that sapped the body of essentials. But the promise of a large nesting site of birds over the lake kept the spirits high throughout. As I dropped my knapsack on the grass followed by myself, my roving eyes ticked off the numerous species of birds in view, the air around the lake electric with their activities. The gentle, soothing breeze was a welcome relief and I slipped off my glasses to wipe my face with the already-soaked kerchief. Taking a swig of the filled-in-as-chilled-but-now-tepid water from my bottle, I happened to glance at the nearest bank of trees.
A clump of Red Silk Cotton Tree (Bombax ceiba) was in full bloom with a profusion of large red flowers on nearly leafless woody branches, and a flock of large birds appeared to be quite busy at something on the tops of the trees. Slipping my glasses back on, I took in the sight of a colony of Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) – some solemnly engaged in courtship, some earnestly immersed in nest building, and yet some others probably the would-have-beens seeking a stray opportunity. Scrambling needlessly – the birds were not going anywhere, were they? – for the equipment, I brought out the camera body and mounted the telephoto lens. Spoilt for choice over the selection on offer, I took my time to arrive at a target, at long last settling for an earnest one who appeared, well, quite earnest, and at the same time was close enough to make a good frame.
As I zoomed in on the subject, all at once my mind began playing games and I imagined (or did I?) the activities of the stork captured through my lens over the next few seconds to be playing out a scripted story! To explain it in 4 easy frames, this is what transpired:
He: (Pondering) Ok, area of this rectangular section done. Ohh…there’s a curve over here, so area of the sector has to be taken into consideration too. Hmm…done! So, I need two of 20 cm and two of 25 cm lengths for the base support and then considering the crossbeams at 90 degrees, four of 40 cm… (Agitated) Hey! Hey! Who the hell is this? The voyeur with one black eye, spying upon my secret calculations of nest-building! Now he’ll go and write about it and for all you know, those Cormorants across the lake will be copying my formulae to build their nests.
She (appearing in the frame): (Puzzled) What’s driving you mad now? I thought you had resolved the issue by bartering the four mango twigs for two of the teak ones. Didn’t I always tell you, two teaks is better than none? And if there are two less, we can always get those babul ones which I had stowed from the last time. That’s that. Now tell me, what should I get for lunch? I’m going down to the lake, so, take a pick between Katla, Tilapia or Pink Perch…
He: (Still aggravated) Will you stop blabbering, you female bird! Look – that idiot who is staring at us. I bet he is up to no good, stealing my secrets. How many times have I told you – be alert. But you never listen, do you? Didn’t I tell you to be on the lookout and not to go searching for the add-ons and trimmings before I had laid down the foundation? Now go shoo him off!
She: (Soothingly) Now, now…calm down darling, take it easy! (Cackling) You and your conspiracy theories! Haven’t you seen others like him before? Remember last season – that idiot who climbed the tree halfway up for a better look and ended up in a heap taking a branch down with him…clatter…clatter…clatter (translation: ha…ha…ha). Pretty harmless ones these are; in fact I heard they take our pictures and show to their flock how wonderful we are! But just to ease your worries, I shall take a few swipes at him with a threatening bill OK? Happy? And now, as I was saying, for lunch…
That did it! Real or imagined, without waiting for implementation of the implied threat, I quickly wrapped up my shoot there and moved on in search of greener pastures. Now, Cormorants did he say?
– Narendra Nayak © 2019