A bird came by yesterday. I was in the kitchen cooking, when I heard a splat. A distinctive sound it was. Simultaneously, I heard the husband’s voice and then I saw his face and mouth gaping with surprise. Next I looked at the glass door on our balcony and what do I see but a strange sight. A skeletal bird clinging to the net screen, its long beak open, its eyes focused on Adi, who in the meanwhile had started having visions of Tippi Hedren swamped with attention from a thousand relentless homicidal birds (The Birds). Having asked him to stop the caterwauling, I had a good look at the bird, wondering if it was unwell. Did it need water? I have very little experience of taking care of birds, you see.
The last time I had rescued a baby pigeon was as a English Lit. student in college. I had taken a cab from college with an injured pigeon perched on my shoulder and the poor mite was shivering. By the time I reached home and put it in the library room with a bowl of water and another of grains, it must have been in a state of shock. It being a fledgling thing, had not fed itself as I had expected. When I visited the room in a half hour, expecting it to feel revived, it lay dead. It left me shivering. Haunted by the death of that baby pigeon, I could not go up to my beloved library for days on end.
Naturally, I am averse to repeating such an experience. I might know a little more than my teenage self, but I do not mess with wildlife because I have limited knowhow. So we mulled about what to do, Adi more concerned with getting rid of the “creepy thing” and me mulling on who to call — for, was its claws stuck on the net door? Then I hit up the Net to identify the bird and it turned out to be a Northern Flicker. A woodpecker. Its brown colouration with the bright crescent of vermilion red on the nape made my job easy.
My food, in the meantime, had turned to cinders on the hob, so I had to give it more attention. It took a good half hour before the Flicker unhooked its claws and took flight. If you have more knowledge of bird behaviour, pray shed light on this. I am curious, for it is not everyday you see a bird paste itself to your door and stay put there.
But to come to the title of the post, quite so literally, I have been introduced by Adi to the world of river monsters. Now, I find shows on chasing gigantic tunas monstrously boring, okay? Imagine then my consternation at finding that I am hooked by a white-haired, leathery cheeked British zoologist exploring killer fishes in the far-flung rivers of the world. And he pursues it with the seriousness I accord to the hunt for serial killers in Scandi noir.
A detective of all murky dealings that transpire in the underwater world? I was open-mouthed as I watched him go about his business with single-minded passion. And, I was in splits too. Then to my horror, I realised I was enamoured of this zoologist-underwater detective’s journey as he fishes for killer underwater monsters with teeth like shards that impale intruders and traces changing behaviours of red-bellied and black piranhas in the Amazonian river waters. Maybe now I have seen everything, now that I find myself furiously drawing fish (below is an illustration of the Golden Dorado, a large predatory fish with jaws as powerful as a pitbull’s found in the fresh waters in South America), a person off the rails wondering at the wild transformation in her telly-watching choices. Could it be the singular power of passion paired with the art of good storytelling?