One morning, after the daily ritual of waving my husband goodbye while he hurriedly left for work, something about the perfectly ordinary front glass door caught my attention as I was about to swing it shut behind him. I paused to take a second look. “Oh! It’s springtime! Must be the sun’s warming rays that are now beaming through the glass door in an otherwise dull, sober Boston weather”, I thought to myself. “Or wait, is it the flimsy, unattractive doorknob enduring great craftsmanship and design that suddenly seemed to glisten under the cheerful rays of the sun?”, questioned my Inner voice in a rather sarcastic tone, who as always made an unsolicited entry into this situation too.
I was hovering back and forth trying to figure out what exactly appeared different about the ostensibly simple door, and suddenly Inner voice squeaked excitedly, “I know what it is. It is the decorative circlet hanging on your door that looks different today!” Shooing the animated Inner voice away, and of course not trusting it completely, my inquisitive physical self leaned closer towards the evergreen festoon. Well, Inner voice was right (as always). It was the ornate wreath suspended on the door that made the milieu seem different today!
I could now notice a delicate, custom-made addition to the wreath. “So uniquely handcrafted”, I thought to myself. Inner voice interjected only to say, “You mean ‘beak’crafted?” and broke into a fit of laughter. “Alright Inner voice, your comment makes sense”, I said to silence it. After all, a particular bird species had handcrafted, I mean, ‘beak’crafted a structurally-sound nest on the wreath!
The structural efficacy of the bowl-shaped nest stood out distinctively to me as I investigated the materials used — layers of twigs, lichens, moss from trees, some mud, a fragment of human-used plastic cellotape, and finally a neat lining of dry grass. What now rested on the strong base of this intricate construction — an immaculately done incubator, was three unhatched pale blue eggs. I told Inner voice in a joking manner, “That egg is the size of your head!” Inner voice usually never acknowledges this kind of humor but this is the only tried and tested way to keep it at bay when I want to focus on other things — for instance, me now preparing to strike a conversation with the architect of this newly-built structural marvel, as I saw her approaching towards me.
“Hello there, I was just admiring your incredible construction,” I said, greeting the builder as she prepared to safely alight on the wooden deck. “Thank you. It has been hard work for both me and my partner for the last two weeks! In addition to looking for perfect materials to construct our home, it’s been so difficult trying to identify a safe spot to build our planned six-inch wide nest. We were constantly feeling threatened with hardly any apt locus left around us. We finally picked this site assuming our construction would be safe from predators as it could easily be hidden under this artificial ringlet of dense green leaves.” Leaving aside the mockery about the unnatural wreath, I started to ponder about the uncanny similarity in the way we humans and this marvelous little engineer thought — the primary need for a secure place to care for our family. “Motherly instinct it is”, chimed in Inner voice.
The builder continued, “It’s all a matter of another few weeks, and my little ones would then be ready to tackle this world on their own.” Again, Inner voice made an uninvited appearance only to remark at the architect’s tone that conveyed a hint of loneliness, “Ah! This is what an ‘empty-nest’ syndrome means!”
“Are you worried?” I asked, turning my attention back to the winged builder. “Not at all, we just wanted a place to keep our nestlings safe and dry. Once they leave, we will continue to sing melodies, continue to fly high in the sky, and explore the world — our day-to-day pursuits keep us happy. I pity you though.” “And, why is that?” I enquired. “Well, from what I have observed, you humans toil all your life, always yearning for more, never having the time to relish nanoscopic things around you…” The sound of a cracked egg suddenly disrupted our conversation. The happy architect now carefully landed into her compactly padded roost and comforted the sudden chaos. She continued to say “So…talking about nanoscopic things around you…I knew you have been living here for so many months now, and I’ve also been in close vicinity— in fact, right on your frequently used door for almost twelve days now. Do you now know why I feel sad for you humans? Take the time…”
Even before she could complete her sentence, the reminder alarm I had set earlier to notify me about an upcoming meeting started blaring on my phone, laptop, and tablet — thanks to the foolproof technology and its compatibility with all devices. As I hastily proceeded to turn off the ‘gentle’ reminder, Inner voice mumbled, “Not a bad idea to set reminders to gaze at some leftover flora and fauna around you too!”
After about ten hours, the doorbell rang. I opened the door for my husband who as usual tiredly returned from work. The sight of the elegant-crested architect regurgitating partly digested food to her newborns made me realize that I had left our morning conversation midway.
Looking at me, she now resumed her sentence, “Take the time to look around, take the time to savor little things in life!”
OVERVIEW OF THE DIALOGUES: Through this imaginary conversational exchange, the author wishes to highlight how mechanical a human’s life has turned out to be in this fast-paced, technology-dominated world. We, humans, often fail to take time to observe the sublime beauty around us, and now, it is the bird’s turn to remind the human to pause and enjoy the natural picturesque surrounding. In addition, the story also ties in the conversational exchange between the human’s physical self with her mind, the Inner voice.
PS: Thankfully, in reality, the author noticed the custom-made, decorative addition made to the wreath on time and was lucky enough to witness the entire nesting cycle of the American Robin (See images below).
A GLIMPSE OF THE MAIN CHARACTER, THE WINGED-BUILDER