Last night I encountered a gray African parrot at a friends place. The parrot belongs to his father, who is a bird aficionado, and Raju, the African gray, has been around for many years. I walked over to his cage for a closer look and he immediately bristled and turned away, wary of newcomers, but I whistled to reassure him of my friendliness.
His feathers settled down and he slowly turned around to inspect me with an unblinking birdy eye, head cocked to one side. Then he whistled back. I whistled again. He whistled too.
‘Hello birdy,’ I said.
‘Hello!’ said Raju.
‘Helloooo….’ I repeated, stunned.
‘Hellooo!’ said Raju.
Needless to say, I would have been quite content to hang with Raju the remainder of the evening, shooting the breeze, but etiquette demanded I socialize with my human friends. I’m told Raju does a great imitation of friend’s Dad, repeating an idiosyncratic phrase in his exact voice, calling out to the chowkidars loudly, ‘Javaiiiiiid…..’…..’Mukhtiaaaaar….’. He also greets everyone with a chirpy ‘Good morning’ every day.
I had a cup of very good coffee, as a result of which I had trouble falling asleep. (This is the first time I actually put two and two together)
Consequently, I woke up later than usual. Huz said he woke up during the night and heard me making strange purring sounds as I slept and he wondered what I was dreaming of. It was so weird to be told I was doing something I was completely unaware of doing. He was so amused.
Amu has been agitated of late. I watched as she paced the rug yesterday, going in circles as she followed the border pattern.
‘Have you ever considered that I might actually really need to see a therapist?’ she asks.
‘Nonsense, therapists are useless. I can do a better job of sorting you out,’ say I, the bird whisperer.
We sat on my bed and talked for an hour, girl to girl. Turns out I’m not the only one with friend woes in this family. Turns out I’m not the only one who over thinks things and drives herself crazy. And apparently she is just like her mother, tears spilling over as she gets emotional.
My concern for Amu’s emotional well-being is visceral. If she is troubled, I am troubled, as simple as that. No one gave me a handbook for parenting an only kid. When I was growing up, I didn’t seek out my mother to confide in or discuss my problems with…..I had my sisters. Apparently people who have sisters tend to be happier and more optimistic, simply because of the connection they feel when they talk. Sometimes I feel crushed when I think that Amu’s long-lasting happiness and optimism have been sabotaged, because we didn’t provide her with any. It is a sadness I carry around with me.
Not a lot of people I know can understand the intensity of the balancing act I do, trying to be both mother and sister.
The good thing is, Amu talks to Huz too, albeit of different things. We hang together as a family. That doesn’t mean Amu isn’t a moody, broody teenager, but I’m pleased to report she isn’t closed off to us, just because we’re parents.
I tell Amu to keep calm and eat chocolate. I know she doesn’t like chocolate, but I wish she did. I had made hot cocoa the other night and it sure had a therapeutic effect on me.
Sometimes I wish I was less goofy and weird, but it is the idiotic things I babble that make Amu giggle. As for me, I just felt absolutely relieved to see the clouds on her head dissipate. She bounced off the bed and ran off to scribble things in her diary. Later that night, as we were driving to aforementioned friends place, I heard my phone beep. There was a text message on it that said, ‘I love you loadz nice parents of mine.’