outside my window

A loud cacophony of crows wakes me up at seven in the morning. The crows are adamant. They want to do their morning assembly right outside my window, every day. A regular day commences at my tiny apartment in Four Bungalows, Mumbai.

I rub my eyes and pick up the toothbrush from the shelf above the sink, put a perfect nurdle of paste on it and stare at the tiled wall in front. Every day I notice the absence of a mirror and every day I forget to buy one. There are a couple of rusty nails hammered in the wall, probably from the earlier tenants’ mirror. I brush, foam forms then rinse and splash. Cold water on my dry skin. It makes me think of last night’s storm and the wet wind it brought along. I have a sore throat.

My new pet, a crow I decided to call Peter is waiting at the kitchen window, caw-cawing loudly. Its time for his daily slice of bread and a fresh bowl of water. He dips the bread in the water and swallows the soft bites. It is fascinating to watch him everyday while I cook. A cat is wallowing somewhere in the parking lot. I try to look for it from the window. I spot a tawny one yelling at the one with black and white spots. They seem to be in a brawl of some sort. Three more cats are sitting at a distance, curiously looking at the fight that’s about to break. The winner will rule the area. They can’t wait to find out, neither can I. An undeterred Peter is still at my window, waiting. He has stopped being scared of my presence and flying away so I guess that’s good? We’re developing a friendship.

I boil a cup of water and when the temperature is just warm enough I pour some of it to drink as a cure for my sore throat. I let the remaining water boil some more for coffee.

After working for what seem like two hours, I slide the desk away and get off my seat to go back in the kitchen, looking for a snack. I find a Kitkat chocolate, tear it open and take a bite while gazing outside the window. There is no sign of Peter but there are breadcrumbs on the wooden plank where a bread slice was kept in the morning. On the street, the cats seem to have settled beside a fisherwoman who looks like she is having a busy day. Three customers have lined up, waiting for their parcel of fish and prawns. She packs it in a black plastic bag. I wonder why meat and seafood is always packed in a black polythene bag. Is it an Indian thing? Do they do that in other parts of the world? I plan to look it up.

A cuckoo sings from the Gulmohar tree on my right. I remember my grandmother telling me how it signifies luck, many years ago, as we sat in the backyard of her house in the village, hearing another cuckoo sing a similar song. It symbolizes the incoming of something new in life, she had said. I smile at the hopeful thought of something new coming in life after 6 months of being homebound due to the pandemic. A slightly warm and wet wind blows and the Coconut tree leaves sway with it.

I go back to my desk and press the Enter key on my keyboard to wake my laptop from its short nap. It feels like a great day to write about all of it. A breezy afternoon, some old songs I’ve been playing on the Amazon Alexa and the melodious koohooo of the Cuckoo is a perfect setting for a writer to break out of the block. I get back to my desk.

I hear the ring of a bicycle. I peep out of the window to see who has arrived with what to sell. A bunch of potted plants are tied up on the carrier of the bicycle, a timid guy stands beside it. I spot a Mogra, I’ve been wanting to get it. I put on a mask, grab my wallet and keys and rush down.

The plant with five white flowers sits happily in the kitchen window beside two Aloe Vera pots. Peter is sitting on the branch of the coconut tree in front of the window. He is looking at me as I arrange the plants in a single line. A money-plant or golden pothos is planted inside a glass bottle, probably an old Rum bottle. I am not sure. Peter has now come at the window. I tell him about my new Mogra. He caws. I ask him if he is hungry again. He caws. I tell him about the bargain I made with the timid guy for the plant. He caws. I ask him if he knows where the cats have gone? He caws. I keep another slice of bread for him on the wooden plank. It is his lucky day, I am in a mood.

I go back to my desk, re-wake my sleeping laptop. The excel sheet I’ve been working on, stares at me, waiting to get done so it can go back to its home folder and sleep peacefully. What if the files and folders on the computer had feelings? I like humanising inanimate objects. I plan to write a story about it someday. My phone beeps with a reminder I’ve set to take a water-break. I walk into the kitchen again and take out the juice box, pour some in a glass and sip it while looking out of the window. A grey bob-cat is jumping from the compound wall on to the road. Some crows are chasing it, flying very close to its face. The cat, true to its attitude, walks away without looking up. I wonder what the crows were bothering it about. Suddenly, I remember I need to get some work done.

I come back to my desk. The laptop is awake. I enter a concatenate formula in a column and drag down the values. Muscle memory.

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