the bird is the messenger


POSTCARD#279: Delhi: The bird is the messenger, a leaf in its beak and a note tied around its tiny leg. Brings news, we’re moving from here at the end of September. After that, three months in temporary accommodation, then we’re leaving India for good.

There’s it is again, the tiny bird in the bush outside, and I’m inside the room, trying to get a clear photo of it through the window glass. There are three of them there, the other two out of sight right now. They move so fast, quicker than thinking. It’s the Purple Sunbird, olive green as youngsters; full size less than 4inches in length and these are so small, almost not there at all. I blink my eyes and they disappear… the quickening. See one for an instant then it’s gone – takes my breath away.

Even now, it all seems to be coming an end – a cancellation of everything that remains, no time to settle, before we’re gone. The disappearance of the past, a new direction, and return to Bangkok – return to “Go”… time is just slippin’ away.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that we came to this house, characteristics of the shift from house A to house B. At the edge of my vision, household items look at me as I pass… poised in choreography of dance steps, ready for their next move. The great leap… percussive landing, clatter, scrape, bump and hastily take up their positions in new rooms.

In the morning we wake up in somebody else’s house… a familiarity of objects out of context in these new surroundings. I’m in someone else’s life – stepped out of my own life, into theirs. Same world, just a different angle on how it’s seen, felt and understood– same sensory awareness mechanism creates the kaleidoscope of different coloured lights.

Where am I? Maybe I’ll find myself in the Lost and Found Department. Searching among the ghosts there, for a self that’s missing – but if it can’t be found, any one will do. I can bear with the tendency for “self” to think it’s different from all the other “selves” going around thinking they’re different too.

Who am I? The world is how I/you perceive it, he/she, perceives it. We/you and they see and look into each other’s eyes. A window opens into another realm inhabited by him, her and them. The sense of their presence inter-lacing with the presence of others before them and as yet nothing of our own. Generations and generations of karma in an arrangement of cause and conditions and interconnected lives

I remember coming here with the house agent. Walking up the path, open the door… ghosts of previous tenants rush away to their hiding places in a whisper of movement. For me there’s only the dust of empty houses everywhere in the city – looking for somewhere to sit in a room with no furniture. Leaning thus, in a doorframe, and maybe this will do. Maybe here we can invent a life we’ll be happy with. Awareness takes it all in, puts it away in a new folder. A new reference point: ‘this’ is where the heart is, home is where I hang my hat.

“It is not as it were that one, dropping out from this world, is born into another but there is continuity of causes and conditions.” [From Madhyamika, quoted by T. R. V. Murti]


Excerpts from an earlier post: quicker than thinking

10 thoughts on “the bird is the messenger

    • Thanks Ellen, I sometimes wonder if the writing arises from all the moving here and there in Asia, and when I get to the end of the travelling the writing will stop. There’s just so much imagery in all the cultures of Asia, all I can do is write in an autobiographical direction through the moments. Maybe I’ll go back to being an easel painter in the end…

  1. Wonderful, T! I anticipate a similar experience in a few weeks as we prepare to head south for the winter. As a monster hurricane barrels across the Atlantic towards Florida and the northeast, where we are going and where we are right now. But is there anywhere to escape the inevitable? Does it really matter? I am fortunate, I believe, even with the family worries and heartaches, health, wellbeing, security, all that. I’m preparing to ship some boxes of glassware and pottery and some art, probably some clothing, too. But before then are all the phone calls I must make to change our mailing address with banks and magazines and cards. I love Google Keep where I leave all my lists, easily opened on phone or tablet, or the laptop, and as I complete things, I can check them off. Best to you in your adjustment, my dear!

    • Hi Sunny, so you’re on the road again. And these hazards are approaching from all sides, the US has had its share of disasters this year. All kinds of awful things happening with flooding here too, 1,200 deaths and 1.8 million children forced out of schooling South Asia:
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/30/mumbai-paralysed-by-floods-as-india-and-region-hit-by-worst-monsoon-rains-in-years
      On a slightly lighter note, you must feel the urgency of it driving across the continent and experience the absolute totality of weather conditions affecting the landmass…

      • Hi Tiramit, I so appreciate your reply. As much as we tend to focus on our own back yards, so to speak, it is important for us to realize how much worse it is in India. Our country, partly due to recent political catastrophes, has become so self-focused that we tend to wring our hands over our own perils. My husband is anxious by nature and frets over our home in Florida, repeatedly saying we shouldn’t have bought it, that he doesn’t like it, the area, etc. I loved our first winter there with the ocean and the wonderful birds that come to the pond beyond the screened lanai and crave the heat we didn’t get up here in the north this summer. He worries about flooding, the eventual disappearing of Florida from climate change, and on and on. It is a challenge. It is life. Blessings to you both as you make the move to Thailand. 🙏❤️🌞

      • Hi Sunny
        It’s good to have your thoughts on all this. A political catastrophe, a natural catastrophe, and your husband’s anxiety is everyone’s anxiety; these are worrying times indeed. And you say that (in the West), it is important for us to realize how much worse it is in India. That’s true of course except that for the most part the urban population in the East are more able to cope with adversity, life is harsh here, compared with Western societies, you could say there are no support systems as we know in the West. Yes, it is definitely a time of change, we’re all having to cope with unsettling thoughts. Maybe for the first time the curtain has been pulled away revealing the leader of the free world as he really is. It’s awful, we are helpless – what is there to be done? Life goes on. In some ways we are nearer to understanding Eastern societies now than we have ever been. Life is like this, as you say, it’s a challenge…

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