When the hills turn purplish-gray ( in Guwahati)

Dusk is settling all around me as I stand on the terrace of our house in Guwahati.

I went there to collect the clothes which had been put out to dry.  When I stepped onto the terrace, it was as though I’d suddenly stepped into the final act of a play, in which no human was taking part. I stood and watched, an attentive audience.

Nature was calling and end to the day, and the sight was lovely and graceful. She was doing it with colors, and sounds, and movement, and drama.

Our house is in a narrow valley. At four in the afternoon the sun was already disappearing behind the hills, not in a blaze of red, but a disc of gold slowly sinking.

The last rays of the sun alerted me to a splash of scarlet right in front of me. There, on the betel-nut tree in my neighbours house, a woodpecker was foraging for dinner. It spent only a little while on the tree, then flew away disappointed.

Meanwhile, in the bush on the hill-side there was a great deal of activity. A few robins were hopping about on a broom-tree, barely resting on a branch before jumping onto another. Their black and white bodies could be spotted only because of their incessant movement.

Suddenly, there was a loud “tuweet tuweet” – I looked overhead. A pair of parakeets were flying high – heading homeward?

Peaceful though everything was, it was not quiet. Birds, hundreds of them, of many different species, were at concert. The loudest were the crows. They were also the most plentiful. Many were flying high above right across the valley. A few were sitting on my neighbour’s terrace, keenly looking around. One flew over to our house, perhaps to the betel nut tree in the front. I’d often seen crows there pecking at the sap of the tree. I wonder if they ever found any food there.

I looked for the sun-bird that came often to the Mussanda tree in our house. It was not to be seen – perhaps it had already flown to its perch. An active bird, I had seen it often brilliant in its red, purple and green shiny feathers, sipping on the flowers.

The sun finally disappeared. The crows kept flying overhead, looking for the insects that came  out in the evening. The tops of the betel nut and coconut trees turned dark. The show was over. It was going to be another act in the morning.


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