Saturday, 6 February 2016

Of Birds and Bees... well, literally!

It was my mum’s idea! My daughter's first birthday was, well, not exactly around the corner… there were whole three months left to it. And yet, our daily hone bills were soaring sky high with every passing day over the same discussion in a constant loop – as to, what they’d give her for a gift!

-         Dress?
-         Well, then give me a wardrobe too!
-         Toys?
-         Do you have any idea how many of those are still unwrapped?
-         Something in gold?
-         Eww… Don't even think of that, not for me and my daughter (*roar*)
-         Then?
-         Well, let me think some more…

This loop went on for quite several weeks, and then came that Eureka moment! It started with an morning phone call, of course!

-         Listen, I've got a brilliant idea!
-         Now what?
-         Fish!
-         What?
-         Fish… fishes!!
-         Not bad! Not bad at all – I grin, positively happy.

Thereafter the parents arrive in time, about a week before the birthday, followed by a whole team grand visit to the pet shop. My mum - the way she has a always been - fishes don't of course mean only fises, ever! My dad - the way he has always been – unfailingly, a silent spectator to the entire process. My husband – following suit; my daughter – insanely excited. Despite my relentless Oh-my-god-what-are-you-doing a plus sized aquarium comes home packed with dozens of orange, yellow, black and blue inmates; and comes with it also and proudly a medium sized rectangular cage in pink and green stripes with a blue “DushTu” and a milk-white “MishTu”. Thus establishes and begins a new kingdom.

To be honest, it isn’t exactly that I was uninterested either. In fact incidentally just a couple of weeks before that time, we had visited a family over dinner and had been amazed to find about a tenth of their drawing room occupied with a huge, room-like cage filled with birds that were so many that we really could not count. What was interesting is, they said they had bought when they had bought only a few, just about half a dozen perhaps. The rest of them, they had declared proudly, were simply the biological side effects.

Hearing that, my eyes had lit up. So after the “gifts” made our home theirs, I call up this famliy and gather what I suppose are necessary family-planning tips and techniques. We start action, enndeavours, with full enthusiasm! First things first - in order to give them the necessary privacy for the “act” we put away the cage in a room separate from where our voices and foot steps would easily reach them. We put them in our study, and put in strict restrictios around not letting too many people enter the room. We allow exception to our baby’s Nanny who’d now going to be importantly responsible to supply the necessary food and water. As the next step, we place the cage right next to the glass door overlooking the balcony and thus the sky, so that's they can watch the blue sky as much as they can from our 13th floor apartments - the only way that they are perhaps left with to fulfill their birth rights! For the summer days, we make arrangements for air coolers; for the winter nights, we set up a room heater for them. We buy them two beautiful earthen pots with pretty designer doors on their side. In one of them, we put a liberal layer of soil based on what the Nanny swears by. In the other, we make a bed of soft white cotton. Earthy look or five star luxuries, you have it all. Al so that they do… erm, just do!

Days pass, weeks… months… Two months, six and and finally a whole year. But nope! Their small-family-happy-family doesn’t bring in a thirs trace of life.

The daughter’s birthday comes again, and thus starts the loop of deciding over gifts. Hopes against hopes, we get ourselves and her a large, much larger cage, with two new inmates in it, one yellow and the other, green. We name them Humpty and Dumpty! Who knows, perhaps the earlier pair never liked their names and thus that’s why they never obliged, and so let’s try some Western ones now. Of course, we ask the shopkeeper over and over again:

Are you sure it's one female and one male?
Yes of course, madame! Look, the green is a boy; and a yellow, cent percent a girl! He beamed. If it was in his stride, he’d even give us a six months’ guarantee.

The ordeal starts again! Skyline, soil, cotton and shades… privacy, above all! The cold of hill station, the warm of desert, the humidity of rainforest, ask for what more? Honestly, I think if at all, we had only left out the options of candle light and instrumentals…

But then, there they were! They eat and drank and made merry. They pooped and peed and had a roll. They rolled over their water-bowl ten times a day for us to rush and fix, and they enthusiastically filled up the entire house with constant chirps.

But that was all, and nothing much happens otherwise. The story continues for another whole year without much in between, other than the yellow one the one we called Dumpty flying away one fine day up away into the sky. My brother rejoices at the news over Skype; he had always argued against petting birds since the start. We were almost at our wits end and had come to the conclusion, conclusively, that somehow the sex life of birds were just not taking off in our home perhaps owing to some star signs or planetary positions.

And then came the second Eureka moment!!

The Nanny had gone home to Calcutta, and from there she returns with a newfound rare skill of telling a male bird from a female. A breathless wait of a night’s train journey later, she impatiently enters through the door and straight into the study. After a careful, detailed study of anatomy that much involved the size of the feathered tails, she arrives at the fateful conclusion that the shopkeeper was wrong all along! These were a gang of all four, now three, boys!!

The rest of history was brief and promising, at least to re-begin with! We walk into a new pet shop and pick up three new ones that the Nanny confidently identifies to be of unadulterated female gender.  With renewed hope and a fresh bout of enthusiasm, we start again with what we’re now almost practiced at – setting them a home! And guess what? Just in about two straight weeks comes the D Day!! Yay, yay!! Two tiny white eggs have been hatched. We hold our breath as we wait for them for the time when they’d crack and will out come the kids…  In fact, we were excited to hear that they too seemed all so excited about it so that they chirped loudly through the night.

But, well!! The morning after, we wake up to discover four pieces of white shell lying on the floor… they fought all night and ended up cracking the entire deal, you see!

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