Mama Oriole


There once lived a beautiful bird couple Mrs & Mr. Golden Oriole. They had met, fallen in love and made their home in a rich tropical jungle that was lush with fruits and vegetation, where the sun played hide and seek with the fronds, where colourful butterflies chased each other all day, and where the beautiful sounds of heavy rainfall were often heard.

After the monsoon season, Mrs. Oriole had three beautiful eggs in her nest, and patiently cared for them and kept them warm. Mr.Oriole was puffed up with pride as a soon-to-be-dad, taking care of the missus and keeping her happy. Mrs.Oriole had many dreams for her three children. She had to be brought out of her reverie quite often!

And soon, there was chirping to be heard from their nest. Mrs.Oriole had now become Mama Oriole, as she would now be known, her own identity subsumed into her role as a mother. From dawn to dusk, the Orioles were busy nurturing and caring for their hatchlings, whom they named Orin, Orion and Oreo.

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In a few days, as the chicks opened their eyes and got to know their parents and the world, Mama Oriole seemed rather anxious. She did not know if she was imagining it, but could sense that her little Oreo was different from her other two kids. She did not know how, but she knew. She kept a careful watch, her anxiety increasing as the days flew by. Soon, it was time to teach her babies to fly. And that is when she found that her Oreo had a problem with one of his wings, and could not use it as well as his other one.

In just a few days, Orin and Orion were able to fly and behaved just like other siblings, squabbling and fighting and teasing each other. Mama Oriole watched Oreo, who smiled but could not comprehend or interact with his siblings. He could fly, but only short distances. Her heart filled with pain. From then on, her life transformed. She dedicated herself to encouraging and motivating Oreo all she could. She spent extra time teaching him, coaching him and loving him. Her life, as she knew it had changed, as she put her needs, her friends and her social life on the backburner; for she had to raise her Oreo into a confident young bird, who could take on the world despite all his limitations.

On some afternoons, when she needed some time to think, and when Papa Oriole took over, she flew to the mountains, craving some peace and time to dwell on life and all its machinations.

She came back from such sojourns with renewed vigour, determined to do whatever it took to give Oreo a good chance at life. She identified that Oreo could whistle beautiful tunes. She encouraged him to practice, she constantly clapped and cheered and built Oreo’s confidence. She roped in Orin and Oreon to encourage their sibling, and to take him out and have fun with him.

Her day began and ended with Oreo. At night, when the crickets set up their chorus and the predators were on the prowl, and when her Oreo cuddled up to her, Mama Oriole experienced a love like no other. A mom’s love.

She was his mother, and he was her world, and she believed in him and loved him. She would always be there for him, no matter what.

Fragrant pit stops


Last week, I had to rush quite early in the day to the supermarket for some supplies. Except for a few stores, most still had their shutters down. Even the escalators were asleep.

As my feet thud thudded down the escalator steps, the mouth watering smells of fresh baking came wafting up to greet me.

I stopped to inhale. Divine. Heavenly. As I went past the bakery, the baker waved out through the glass wall. I waved back and walked with a sudden spring in my step.

This morning, as I sat enjoying my coffee, the breeze brought the smell of incense sticks to me. It felt so soothing.

There are so many wonderful smells that greet us, but we have become oblivious to them, tangled as we are in the web of our busy schedules.

However, let it not be said that we have become oblivious to all smells. We do grimace when we smell something bad. We are ready to flap our hands and wave those smells away.

But do we ever stop to enjoy the lovely fragrances and smells that surround us?

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The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the way the ground smells after the first drops of rain, the smell of freshly washed and sun-dried linen, the heavenly smells of spices blending as you walk past a neighbour’s home during dinner time (and when you try to guess what they are cooking), the smell of fresh grass, the smell of the breeze, the sudden joy of smelling a frangipani flower when you walk in the tropics, the smell of a baby, the smells of home…so many wonderful smells.

I vow to myself that I will try to stop and enjoy these simple pleasures more often.

Afternoon couch nappers


It is late afternoon. And in the tropics it means that the sun is blazing away mercilessly. It is that time of the day when the trees hunch their shoulders waiting for a breeze to lift their spirits, when the plants curl their leaves to keep cool and the normally vocal birds drop a few decibels. One can only hear a caw here or a muted chirp there.

I am sitting on the couch trying to catch up on my reading. And slowly the intruder walks up my hands, my shoulders and my neck and gently presses down on my eyes. Oh! The pleasure of catching a few winks.

My body relaxes, as my eyes close involuntarily. The words blur in front of my eyes, dancing into each other. My head starts lolling to one side, my body starts keening to the right.The brain is alerted suddenly, as it knows that I am going to topple over. As if by magic, my body straightens itself, and again the eyes droop and the lolling starts.

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The book starts its journey from my lap to the floor. The characters from the book inhabit my dreams, as I fall deeper into layers of sleep. 

The cuckoo from the cuckoo clock announces the hour. I am startled awake.  I realize that it has only been 10 minutes since I fell asleep. I stretch and smile. 

I feel so refreshed and good. 

“Must be genetic”, I say to myself. My family has many ‘afternoon couch nappers’.

I remember happy and lazy Sunday weekends when aunts, uncles and my dad would nap, while sitting on the couch and reading a book or the newspaper. My cousins and I would giggle as we saw them nod off, or watch their books slide down, or hear gentle snores escaping them.

The moment you shook them awake and asked them to lie down, they would become alert and lose all interest in napping..they could only steal a few winks while seated. I miss those fun days.

At least the ‘afternoon nap’ genes have been passed down.

Living in the moment


It’s been quite windy here for the last week or so. We are usually only used to dealing with various shades of tropical humidity, interspersed with thunderstorms that come and go at will.

The wind puts a spring in my step as I head out on my morning walk. The walkers’park is teeming with people -walking, jogging and cycling.

The sun is yet to unleash its burning heat. The day is cool, made cooler by this delicious breeze.

The target is a 10 km walk. I set off at a steady pace. About six kilometers into my walk, I stop to drink water. There are stone benches along the treelined walkway.

On one of these benches is a man, his hands stretched and placed under his head. His feet are stretched out. I wonder if he is asleep. There are many plastic bags near his bench. I slowly start walking past. I realize that he is awake and enjoying that moment. He is totally in the moment. He is oblivious to my presence.

I smile in wonder. It is peak hour in the morning. Every walker and jogger wants to rush back and get started with his or her busy day, and then there is this man, totally relaxed!

I smile and walk on. The wind continues to blow pretty flowers from the trees to the ground. The intoxicating smell of frangipani teases my nostrils. Yellow and pink flowers dance in glee before they fall to the ground, transforming the grass into a colourful carpet.

Bliss.