Cheep cheep cheep.
The sound, a continuous thrilled effort to my ears, comes from a mynah chick, perched on the crown of a bottlebrush tree. Next to it is its parent, a graceful adult, well-aware of its surroundings. The fledgling resembles a puffed up brown cotton ball, the feathers on its little body would take time to look like that of its parents but its wings are already trained for flight. The two fly down on the mown grass, the little one waddling behind cheep cheep cheep.
The neighbourhood park is home to birds including mynahs, crows, sparrows, and pigeons, though their nests are barely visible to the humans walking underneath the trees. A bitch had birthed her first brood of pups as the summer was overtaken by the rains. The pups, strong and mobile now dig the earth with their paws, and sprawl out on the cool mud. They nibble upon a synthetic net which had been installed to prevent the entry of dogs, and I murmur, “Keep at it, my love. Keep at it.”
No matter how deftly humans have attempted to convert the once open ground into a sanctuary meant and reserved only for themselves, the urban wild has made its way in. The gates installed to shut behind have been abandoned for other entry routes. The sidewalk is smeared with animal shit, little lumps making us sidestep instead. I chuckle.
The mother bitch is often seen with her pups, although I believe she has been training them unbeknownst to us to be on their own. Every now and then, a black kitten walks gracefully on the dividing wall, its tail lifted in the air aware of the humans that are afraid of it. Her fluorescent green eyes, if she would only allow us to stare into them for long, would transport us to the beginning of time.
Above us, the eagles soar surveying us and the earth for their prey. But I have yet to learn the difference between eagles and hawks. Once I stretched myself on a wrought-iron bench and looked at them, counting them under my breath, and wished I could sprout wings and be among them, especially perform kiting, and allow the bursts of wind through me and into me. I would not be afraid then, of anything.
I am ever watchful of where my feet land on the sidewalk. There are hundreds and thousands of ants, dutifully lining the concrete, unfit for their safety. I imagine a new design for the sidewalks, which are striated deep enough to allow the ants to pass through, without them being stepped upon, and left to die, until they are found by their companions. When I was young, I thought of how a baby ant would feel if its parent did not return home and I cried vehemently for the unfairness of this world. So I am always careful, I always wear my glasses when I go for a walk in the park.
On some days, among the manicured shrubs, I see a small bird, its tail upright and long. Ever since, I have been trying to find what it is known as, how its song sounds, or where it is likely to nest. I haven’t had the luck to find it in database. At first I thought it to be a sunbird, an image from an early science book playing itself in my mind. But its beak is straight, not curved. This bird is special to me. I have seen it in the same bush where I first spotted it, always looking in the direction of the sun. I believe it is not a visitor like me.
I have been born and raised in cities. But I have known what it feels like to dip my feet in a body of water, small or large, to know when the currents are strong and when the water is safe to wade in. I have known what a breath of fresh air feels like having taken countless breaths in preserved sanctuaries of trees far away from traffic. And, I have known my weakness as a human, having seen the urban wild doing what I would never been able to attempt. In that way, I am rescued.