Why pigeons should be flying higher

I have hated pigeons with a physically-felt madness ever since I moved into hostel room. Every morning, before I am fully prepared to wake up, I find my reverie broken by the flutter of wings in my room. I never could sleep with my windows and curtains closed, and so this was the fate that I had to accept. I even tried placing a balloon fashioned out of paper (it looked like an owl), and waiting for the birds to realize that they were under the insomniac eyes of a predator. It was a proposition I found online but I suppose the pigeons in my college are too used to human company to feel threatened by a foolish attempt to keep them away from their dream home above my closet.

There were times when I had met mousy pigeons that did not fly into a metal blade whirring at fast speeds just to see if they could. These were pigeons of another time and place, watchful in their judgment of the roads they barely survived on. Most of the details of the day that I met one of such have been erased away leaving behind a melange of every other unimportant detail, like the smell of wet muddy grass on the seats of the old car, and my grandfather snoring loudly in the passenger seat. I even remember the color of the little ducks on the pyjamas I was wearing, and it was pink, not yellow as I have now realized to be a better option, and a more sane one. Pink does not look very good with blood all over it.

It was a warm, sunny day, I suppose, since my grandfather decided to keep his side of the window rolled down. We were cruising along the highway at around 120 kmph, gray roads lay stretched way beyond their ability in front of us, pulled and scratched until satisfactory. I was still younger back then, and not every moment in a car was spent imagining car crashes. I had already given into my nausea, and was sleeping in the back seat, leaning on my mother’s arm. My grandmother sat farther away, her windows (and mine) rolled up, staring into blue trees steadfastly, like there was some wisdom that was lost on her, that age had denied her. Of course, these are just the fake memories of a 12 year old, most of it has now attached itself to other memories that have been more particular.

It is difficult to place the exact moment when it happened. But I remember the sound more clearly than I remember my own voice. A bird, struck by a push of pressure, flying against the direction of our car, got sucked into the one open window, and flew right in. I heard a heavy crack, and a soft but strong plop, and I woke up to what was the goriest sight I have ever seen in real life. The pigeon had had nowhere to go; it had crashed right by my right shoulder. A piece of its broken beak lay on my lap. The rest of its body, headless, was lying near my feet. It was the remainder of a broken pigeon (I only identified the bird now), headless and blunt. My pyjamas were not not recognizable, it as covered in red goo that felt like clotted blood, but I’d never seen blood so close. And so much.

They stopped the car. Someone held me while I threw up a digested breakfast. Someone helped me change into clean clothes while someone else cleaned the car and threw the pigeon onto the side of the road, in deep bushes. I didn’t feel much else other than disgust then, but I realize now I should have felt worse for the bird. But it’s too late now, not that it is possible to decide how late it is now, and why it wasn’t late then. I couldn’t have saved the bird, I couldn’t have removed the fear of the possibility of that bird landing at my face, and I definitely wouldn’t have lost my favorite pyjamas. But remorse eludes possibility of a lack of possibility, and I have repressed the dead pigeon inside me for quite a while, not that it made for an interesting story or a good, dinner conversation. But I know for a fact, that I cannot see one more hapless animal slashed through a good body because of… Determined fate. Maybe pigeons should have realized by now they should be flying higher than they already do. And find homes among tall trees, not upright sand, stone and metal.

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