It was the dead one that finally got to me.
A few weeks ago, or maybe it was a few months, I discovered two tiny eggs nestled in the corner of my window sill, just beside the inverters of our air conditioners. Two white eggs, seated warmly beside each other in the unlikely cold of Mumbai’s winter. When I saw them, I immediately thought of the wonders of life and how beautiful it was that my balcony would soon be home to two baby pigeons and their parents.
It was a matter of both intrigue and irritation that the parent pigeons (I could never tell the mama from the papa) would return ever so often to check on the egglings. Intrigue, because I’m quite the dummy when it comes to pigeon behaviour, or for that matter, the behaviour of any living thing that isn’t human. My irritation was a result of the daily din of the parent pigeons doing god-knows-what by my window sill. The commotion was slowly becoming unbearable, especially because they were noisy during the oddest hours.
I put up with their nonsense. I put up with it, partly because of a swell of emotion and partly because I didn’t know how to get rid of them. I anticipated a mess when the eggs hatched, and I dealt with it by wishing them away. That was good enough for me, and I suppose it suited the pigeon family quite well.
The inevitable happened, and soon there were two ugly white squabs where the eggs were. As they grew, they made it a point to add to the general cacophony created by their parents. But that wasn’t my problem. Their birth was a fucking MESS, that was my problem. The whole area was soiled with bird droppings, feathers and other general goo. My windows stayed shut, cutting me off from the excellent weather outside, because I couldn’t bring myself to face that dirty section by the inverters.
So this is how we lived then, the pigeons and I, with our areas of habitation clearly delineated. Beyond the window is yours, and before it is mine. We could have gone on like this a long while- me wishing them away while they continued to inhabit a nook of my window. We could have, had the mites on their bodies not caused me to have an allergic reaction.
My boyfriend started calling me Khujli Kumar because of the amount I itched myself. My neck, armpits, thighs, and knees erupted in pimple-like boils, leading me to wonder if I had finally contracted my first STD. The doctor diagnosed it as an allergic reaction to living in proximity with the birds, and alas, it was time for them to go.
I put this morbid activity away for as long as I could; it’s not easy to render someone homeless. But two days ago, I received the final blow- one of the pigeons had died. How and when, I don’t know. Worse, how long it was dead I didn’t know either. The family of pigeons now had three live members and one dead one, a dead one that they came back to sit beside everyday. A dead pigeon on my window sill.
Within 24 hours, I got the area cleaned and a wire mesh put up as a barricade. The three pigeons came back an hour after this task was accomplished. Whether they were dismayed to find that they were now beghar and that the dead member of their family was missing, I couldn’t tell. The three of them just fluttered about, looking constantly at the mesh, perhaps trying to figure out how to get to the other side.
I didn’t feel too good about this exercise, but will I lose a night’s sleep over it? Perhaps not. There’s a small opening in the wire mesh, behind the inverters, inaccessible by hand. As much as I regret having done what I did to a bewildered pigeon family of three, I hope to god they don’t discover the opening.