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Annapurna Sharma A
Life & Literature
Annapurna Sharma A

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Why is the Black Drongo black?

Shopping is the best getaway, especially for women. Is it because of the impulsive indulgences or window shopping? Or is it the freedom from the ovens and grills? Or the luxury of sitting in glass-walled restaurants? The glitz? The glamour? Why not? Each woman is a celebrity in her own way. Each woman is the queen of her palace, of her idiosyncrasies, of her musings, of her life.

I need no makeup, I am dark. And attractive.

Talking of peculiarities, I am one of them, but in a slightly different way. Malls, Metros and Multiplexes have a certain degree of penchant, but not entirely. I don’t grade them ten out of ten. My quirkiness is the hurdle. The need for solitude, for deep introspection, for keen observation, for unending musings, the long sighs at life’s unsought junctures is what nurtures my soul. I strive on subterranean juices. Often bullied as a recluse. It hurts. Yet, I’d prefer that. With that loneliness comes the wont to gorge generous bites of masala-dosa fried on large tar-like Indian pans and to slurp the smoking filter coffee, in wee steel tumblers, the breeze trying its best to digress my wits.

I love to pack the dark evenings solely with my brooding feelings.

My road leads me to the thatched shack on the outskirts where I sit in silence on a chipped chair. The man who mixes my coffee is short, dark and pudgy, with a cherubic smile pasted on his purpled face. It is just the right taste – right bitterness, right sweetness, right amount of milk, so as not to spoil the inherent darkness of coffee. How accurate are his estimations? Even I make coffee at home, the taste varies with the climes and moods.

I worship the darkness of coffee.

Then I notice, those little eyes, like a mouse out of its burrow; she peeps from behind the tin shed. Her eyes deduce the level of danger or should I call it derision. He briefly glances at her and then gets back to watching his hands prepare coffee. In the gap between supplying tumblers of coffee to his customers he quickly grabs two biscuits from the glass jar, yes, the local made, sweet-spice biscuits, like the Charminar biscuits we buy from the supermarkets. They are equally good. He places them on the edge of the wobbly table and gets back to his work. The mouse darts out of its dark hole, grabs the biscuits and rushes back before others see her. She is his little daughter, a shade darker than him, her eyes attractive than mine, her steps as lissome as the breeze. She fears going to school or even to come outside, he tells me. Is it because of her color? He isn’t vocal. I sensed the deep feeling of playing an outcast. He worships the Big God fixed in the golden frame hung to a shaky nail in his shanty hideout. He believes he was over-baked – or might have been given another extra large coating of color, with love. It isn’t a punishment. It is the same red blood, same blue veins…

This reminds me of a mail from a proud uncle to his over-working niece: underscoring my interest in darkness he shared the news of a secret mission – A team of eight artists and several volunteers paint a street mural in a bold shade of yellow – Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C. There was disquiet. There was doubt. Some called it assertive; some called it shift of power. No one knows what future does this mural or others coming up in several places hold.

I decide to paint a large Black Drongo; glossy, black plumage against a cumulus backdrop of the firmament…


Issue 92 (Jul-Aug 2020)

    • Ambika Ananth: Editorial Note
    • Ammar Aziz
    • K Satchidanandan
    • Sarah Jane Locke
    • Sergio Ortiz
    • Shyama Laxman
    • Sridevi Ramanunni
    • Srilakshmi Adhyapak