The crane flies low, dangerously close to the roofs of cars, so close that a careless truck could quickly knock it out of the sky. Everyday the swan swoops down, the same time, the same place.
The crane visits the green lawn by the bungalow, the dogs and inhabitants give him no mind. He feeds and makes his way across the street, slowing working his way up, towards the end of the patchy shrubs between the pavement and tar road. He moves methodically, disappearing and appearing on roofs, compound walls but never parked cars.
That is his afternoon, by evening when the sky turns grey and dull, he flies off. A fellow observer knew the cranes patterns and told me where to look for him. Their main takeaway was that the crane had a strict adherence to routine and that it was alone.
This was once a valley, named after the elephants who drank at the lake. Now the valley is flattened by apartment complexes, houses, roads and turns. The low storm drain was once a fast stream and maybe instead of the pigeons, kingfisher and hawks, between electric wires and dropping covered TV-dishes there was more to this valley for a crane.
Can you tell a crane to move? That the lakes are gone and that there may be one, but soon he’ll be gone.
Lines of sun beaten faces twist and curve along the flyover, moving from their still and slightly annoyed expressions to frustrated sighs as the traffic inches by. They turn, look down, inspect their vehicles, stop to have a look at the congestion up ahead while noticing now and then someone else they had previously overtaken, passed by or trailed in some new alignment in relation to them.
Now and then the flyover rumbles underneath the vehicles and humming engines in a concerning manner. The bridges are meant to do this, if they didn’t the bridges would crumble. The rumbling is because of the wiggle room to account for vibrations from vehicles and changes in temperature. Such concerning shakes are possibly an inbuilt safety feature to prevent the lethargy and dullness in the traffic from putting travelers to sleep. Put the traffic to sleep and you’ve killed a city.
Seated on the flyover, one’s line of sight has the dusty tree tops, the unseen and uglier portions of building that their owner’s don’t care to hide and a blue sky. A pedestrian might catch a glimpse of the sky, which on the bustling streets seems like an idyllic escape that hung over a quiet farm or town that once marked the area. The flyover offers a different perspective- the sky empty and echoing the dulling noise, the warm and dusty breeze that seeps out of the city below it and escapes desperately like a man gasping for air, greedily drawing in all that it can to live a little longer.
There are no idyllic villages left, there are warm backwater’s gasping at anything urbane while dust and plastic accumulate along the widening roads that march from the cities. Travelers scratch their heads, pull up scarves, push their sunglasses up after twisting their noses. Dammed fools of them, dammed like the rest of us, blindly grabbing at something the city seemed to promise. There’s got to be someone among those who rule over us who’s tired of squeezing everyone into one tried, dusty ball of confused complaints about how the world is. I really hope there is.
It’s not like the ones on the bridge are getting anywhere in this traffic.
From the memory
of a power cut, of a starry night
before my cousins and I
knew how to fight
I have gone
For so long.
Alas! The crawl of modernity.
Even here, the orange night
Oh Mangalore how long
has it been
since you’ve know
that star gilded night?