The sparse brown brush was fast fading into a parched and shrivelled tangle as the once sinewy roots now groped for traces of moisture in the dusty grit and gravel. A haze of sooty flecks hung in the air settling slowly as a deathly shroud over the singed leaves. Unfamiliar sounds brutally assaulted the tenor with cacophonic dissonance moving recurrently into a jarring crescendo. The air was burdened with the putrid notes of an all-pervasive humanity, every breath an effort to maintain sanity. Even the sky seemed to have been taken over by a morbid pallor of inevitability.
She shuffled clumsily through the meagre undergrowth disregarding the moribund milieu, wings askew as feathers caught in the gnarled branches. Within her lifetime she had been a silent witness to the methodical murder of her verdant dwellings. But she had lost perception of the immediate peril, for the conundrum was reaching far beyond her subsistence.
She had just laid two eggs.
[Framed: A greater coucal or crow pheasant (Centropus sinensis) or Bharadwaj; Aarey Forest, Mumbai]
– Narendra Nayak © 2022