For the first few days, I noticed everything quietly, baffled at the sudden disappearance of the VastWings. I chose different hours of the day and mounted the top of the Green to verify the novel phenomenon of their absence. I would tilt my head leftwards to have a better view of the sky and then to the right, but there was no trace of the airspace giants. Some baby Robins would circle up, chasing one another. They would perch briefly on the same twig as I, to catch a breath, and then, flit away excitedly. These younglings forced me to go to a higher, and sturdier Green for my observations.
The waking up to the soul-shaking growl ceased. No rumbling roof at sunrise, no gurgles in the clouds, and no thunderous reverberations at night. The horizon, otherwise strewn with the VastWings, was covered in a surreal placidity. To our great shock, the Vehicrawlers’ mad run had stopped too. The Raven-tracks were all deserted. Was I dreaming?
What would it be like to climb up the endless arms of the self-coloured sky and drown in the ochre perspiration of the sun. One of my minds was tempted to venture onto the paths of the VastWings, while the other reminded me of my mother’s parting words, “Wait and watch, until you don’t understand a thing.” These words, coming out of her choked lungs, without the usual perkiness of her voice, were to be my talisman for life. The grime in her lungs killed Mama young and Father was quick to settle with a vain yellow beak.
The Capital Sky transformed into the pensively referred spotless setting of my Mama’s tales. But then, the bloody behemoths invaded and captured our skylines, forcing the avifauna to change their course or die. All winged beings had to switch to the Greens within the cloistered lanes and bylanes around the concrete nests of the Walkers. Numberless of our ancestors lost their lives during the transition. Some died fighting this new enemy while others gave in to the gruelling lifestyle changes occasioned by the exodus to the Walkers’ zones.
The foundations of the Walkers’ world were cemented over the clots of the Greens’ blood. The Walkers were strange beings; schadenfreude. On one hand, they propagated their own sort, felling the Greens and making survival difficult for avifauna and on the other, they created nursing groves of the Greens, pretending to care for them. Truth was, they were control freaks who wished to ration our existences and be our God.. I am sure the VastWings were Walkers’ way of trying to be beings they were not: Us, Winged-ones
Several days passed, the Vast-wings did not return. The rumours and speculations of their comeback were rife among the Capital avifauna. The Tailorbirds in the neighbourhood had declared that the VastWings were resting, or hibernating, to become more ferocious and bigger. They claimed their sizes would soon be twice a hundred Vehicrawlers.
The Chickadees, lifting one foot to scratch under her wing, added that the Vast-wings seem to have gone incognito and were operational in disguise. The Bulbul bird countered Chickadees, by quoting about the expeditions of some daredevils of their tribe who were flying the banned sky hassle-free.
The visiting Green pigeon rolled his neck slowly and blinked a scoff. He disclosed the eye-witness account of her jet-set aunt from the Posh-palm grove near the Vast-wing Station; “She told us that the Vast-wings were all clutching the ground. The Walkers were not trying to operate them anymore. She suspected something was wrong with the Walkers. They are not moving out from their nests much. They feared something in the air.”
Whatever the cause of the Walkers’ containment was, it had given the avifauna a new life.
Slowly, after careful scrutiny, we had all begun testing the waters. We were not limiting ourselves to the branches of the local Green or hopping from one pole cable in affinity to another. With the crack of dawn, we left for outer skies. Vying for higher altitudes, we explored new skyways every day!
We discovered fascinating winged communities during our flying sojourn. At sundown, we would return home frolicking; chirping songs we had abandoned since the growing screeches of the Crush-crawlers. For the first time we were flying with the knowledge of limitlessness.
Our bones grew sturdier and plumage shinier. The entire avifauna was euphoric. The Greens became brighter too. We thought of nothing else but to make most of this unexpected gift of the summer.
This is the best time to have brought my baby Myna into the world. I was stress free and eating well; mine was a blessed pregnancy, unlike that of my mother.
I wished I could nudge the warm plume of Mama and tell her that we had reclaimed our old airfields and that our world was slowly returning to its previous glory. The urge to relive the past and to grow wings in the ancient sky was, miraculously, answered. I saw Mama asking me if I was feeling the weight of the baby-shell in my body. She, then, thanked the Creator and Green with a peck on my head.
A sudden midnight quake in my hole woke me up; I felt the dark wooden walls shaking with the echo of a distant, jarring whir, that seemed to spread across the clouds like current…getting louder…and louder…and…
Raven-tract: roads , paths
Capital Sky : Name of sky of narrator’s city
Dr. Jindagi Kumari lives in Delhi. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Technology, New Delhi. She has published short stories and poems in journals such as Muse India, Setu and Kitaab.org.