I make friends with feathers rather than birds. I can chase them and know that even if they fly away they will not die. They will not cry or scream or bleed. They will not point with accusation at the knife in my hand that was merely cutting strings.
A feather has a strong scent when it first meets you disentangled from the body it protects; you smell it deep and soon enough you imagine it begins to smell of you, your memories. You touch it because you want to feel its caress and then tuck it away, often between the pages of a book. You turn to read the chapter again and again and the flattened feather leaps out, bouncy and cheerful. No bird ever returns to reclaim its lost feathers.
The feather and I speak a language of wings scraping the ground.
- - -
I used to have a glass menagerie. Little animals and birds, coloured translucent. They had been packed in cotton wool. I removed each and placed them on the shelf, arranging them in such a manner so as to save the tough ones from the tame.
The gazelle about to sprint was in a corner, a beauty in peach. The tiger was kept far away, but in its magnetic appeal I found something disturbing, as though by seeing through that glass I was wounding it with every glance. The dog followed the camel; the cat lay in repose…birds perched haughtily. I did not know what to do with the fish. The brilliant blue made me feel helpless as I thought it would die. I could not create water in the shelf. Each time I looked towards it I felt that sudden feeling of being choked. I realised that it seemed imperishable. Not every fish seems to need water.
One day the shelf that held them toppled over. They crashed to little pieces. I had these charming colours on my palms as I picked each bit. There was no blood. They had the grace to spare me. Or maybe they couldn’t destroy because they were dead? Mere glass cannot imbue you with life even if it shapes you.
"Woh jo mere lahu mein dubou ke guzra hai
Woh koi ghair nahin yaar eik purana tha"
"The one who has soaked in my blood and left
Was no stranger but an old friend"
- - -
But this is a day for friends, of silver linings, of laughter and giving. So take of me what you will, make of me what you will…I am clay. It would be nice if you could let me remain just that, for when you transform me into a pot or a vase, I can break even if I may never break away.
- - -
(The second segment was used earlier)