It's windy today.
My neighbour has released fewer pigeons into the sky. Only the strong ones perhaps.
But they are struggling against the edges of the impending storm. They need the exercise he tells me. I want to shout back perhaps he shouldn't keep them cooped up in cages.
I don't like going into such arguments anymore.
My cloth mask makes it hard to sustain conversations. My shortness of breath makes passion impossible.
So I hold my peace and watch the pigeons swoop down and struggle to rise again.
They are insignificant black dots against the ominously darkening sky.
I wonder what they are thinking. The rush of the wind must be exhilarating. Or perhaps frightening?
I wish I was among them. Dicing with death knowing I shan't die here. My wings are strong. My body built to survive.
Do they know what is going on below them?
As funeral pyres burn in the thousands and bodies that escaped burning wash up down river bloated and pale like lost baby whales scared and bewildered at humans trying to help.
They usually bring harpoons. Gas-powered ones that stick in your side as the sound of the ominous diesel engine comes closer and closer.
Like the pigeons, whales must face storms too.
But they can dive down into the safety of the depths while the pigeons hope that my neighbour remembers to tie down the tarpaulin sheet properly. With nylon rope and bricks.
Now that the thunder has rolled in overhead and has struck down the power, not the electricity, but human arrogance, and scattered miscreants from the streets, I wonder what the pigeons are doing.
Cooped up together with the whole structure in danger of being blown down or struck by lightning. What must they be clucking about? Or do they coo? Softly, trying to comfort the young, weak and afraid.
Do they know we're doing the same? Do they know that right now we are also under a tarpaulin sheet of darkness and are afraid of the unknown terrors that are swirling around us threatening to drown us under our sinful sorrows?
Do they thinking about their handler, owner, master? There he is. I can see him from my window. I can see his silhouette backlit by the fluorescence of protection his concrete walls provide him.
He remains there. Comfortably half-reclined on his bed. Perhaps working. Perhaps reading. Perhaps simply gazing into the void. The elements cannot reach him. He is safe.
Neither can the pigeons. They are locked up. They do not have the knowhow to pick that lock. They peck at it nervously sometimes, I imagine. But mostly they peck at the grain or the corpse of a dead comrade who may or may not be consecrated by my neighbour the next time he comes to feed them.
And when he comes to feed them all is forgiven. I imagine pigeons have bad memories. They see the world in slow motion I'm told. That's why they wait so long until the car wheel is almost upon them before they fly away. Apparently they're not stupid.
The rain is slowing down. The thunder is rolling northwards. Towards other pigeons who must begin to shudder in their coops. Towards other men with undeserved power who will only place a thin tarpaulin sheet over the coop and run for safety. He might even forget to tie it down.
Next morning he will regret it. Some pigeons will probably have died. But he'll remove them from sight and bring more grain, plump and shiny, golden yellow pills of forgetfulness. And all will be forgiven.
Soham Mukherjee is a self-confessed anglophile. Completely in love with the English language, he enjoys creating sentences out of random words that pop into his head. He is a lover of literature in all its forms while maintaining certain staunch specific tastes. Although he has found his vocation in academia, his true calling lies in writing which he has been doing since he was in high school. While it began solely to impress a former flame, his work has slowly transformed into a more comprehensive representation of the world he sees around him and the world that he holds in his head.