During my holidays in Pakistan, a bluebird used to come every morning outside reflective glass window of my room. She used to sit by the window-pane and chirp to her own reflection for a while, stroking her beak gently with the glass in a pattern, her persistent excitement was long enough to wake me up and observe her innocence curiously. She had become my alarm clock.
There were days during those long holiday when I was more lazy than usual. On one particular formal dinner, the dress code and protocol were not to be missed. With much persuasion from my family, I finally agreed upon a formal attire. That night, we were apparently late, everyone waited at the door in a hurried state. As I stepped out of my room, my new dress was frowned upon…before my disapproving stance, it was replaced with rather a very heavy and long overcoat. To complement the look I was made to quickly switch over long heels. Like a model I had a little say in what I wore, oh the horror of being youngest in the family. Obedience thrills but kills. On the quick changeover, I heard ‘Woah, how nice’, ‘suits you’, ‘let’s go’ comments…for once I decided to ignore the possibility that they were saving time and believe for once they were being honest.
In the car, I realised not only the coat was extremely heavy on shoulders but it also had about a dozen odd buttons in a pattern. I did my buttons despite dark..In one hasty go I got over and done with them. Phew, that was a clever move… well in time!
Reaching the venue, the meet and greet, the formal introduction all went well. We were all sitting in an open-air, finally chatting casually. I participated with much confidence and enthusiasm despite the fact that I couldn’t freely move the neck, my shoulders were piercing and I felt suffocated. It was still all smiles until I realised one odd moment.
All my buttons were fastened in a haphazard way while sitting down they looked much more awkward and bulged out in a disproportionate way.
I looked around in a moment of immense agony and pain wondering how it missed the eyes of others. It was one confused moment when I realised that it was a wrong idea to get into an intricate unfamiliar and unfriendly coat that too on the last minute.
It was almost impossible at this spur of the moment for me to stand up, undo and redo my buttons with ease, confidence and no reflection. The facility to run into a corner also looked vague. Reminding myself of Shakespearean quote’ what’s done cannot be undone’ I started laughing loudly, a devilish laugh that no one could miss. My family looked at me in a state of disappointment at such sudden, in alarmed and unprovoked outburst. I couldn’t explain nor announce the culprit, nor stop laughing a laughter more annoying than a stroking bird. It was not my day I guess, but I enjoyed chirping with my own-self this time, just like that bird. Bluebird and blue coat… The only difference being my onlookers were not amused by my out of anywhere, loud innocence.
According to research, up to one million birds hit the glass and get killed each year in the U.S alone. Reflection of vegetation or landscape attracts birds and makes the windows a silent killer. This affects mainly those migratory birds who are new to the surroundings in the season of spring and autumn.
On occasions, just like birds we the humans, privileged with crown and glory of power forget our blessings and succumb to our reflections of the past.
The past glory, the ideally balanced world of fulfilled desire becomes that piercing heartbreaking front.
It has always been a point of great interest to look into the projected reflections of others too… in reality grass is never green on the other side.
From where I grew up in a joint family system, birds are often referred as ‘chairman da Chamba’ ( flock of birds); just like the migratory birds who fly away (when it is their time to get married). This title is either used as a reason to pamper and spoil the guest birds (which I had a privilege) or a bit unfortunate to be treated indifferently with less emotional attachment.
Sometimes, these ‘chiryan’ who are raised unfamiliar with their true potential, succumb to the false reflections of the ever-dazzling, ever-changing glass mirrors of society having sometimes the pass to kill birds.
Some women are more unsafe at home, getting a frequent beating by their so-called protectors and caretakers…..If this is not crashing by glass walls what else will be?
Some women are made to work more than their physical capability, while others are denied freedom to work despite their outstanding degrees and passion.
Even in this age and time some girls in remote areas of the world are denied liberty to choose their right to education, life partner or expression. When is the time for them to get the rights of settled resident status?
While talking this week about the world migratory birds day, how about we also think of providing unbiased support to all in privilege, denied and tormented women around the globe? They need respect for most with a freedom to choose and be. Giving them listening ear and love, so that they don’t keep crashing to the glass of our contemporary coward standards.
Outside the famous data darbar in Lahore, some vendors set the birds free. By paying some money I could set free few of them. All the birds were excited and anxious to get a turn when I tried to reach them through a small hole. To them, it was not an annoying disturbance but a welcome opportunity to be their true selves. The feeling to see them fly high to the sky was the most liberating experience I had. While some argue that the birds were repeatedly trapped, the birds felt the true image of them in the freedom each time. Such a sight is beyond my power of words.
I love birds and take care of them with fond memories of my father feeding them. On a rainy day, I was reminded by my brother to give food to them as they must be hungry and wet. Why I look after them is perhaps my inculcated love, yet they also teach an important lesson, to stay grounded, fly high and be a kind soul who loves and cares for everyone irrespective of their migratory status. Do you?