Early Bird

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These days I sit on the front balcony in my home after my morning walk, post pranayama practice, and meditation, and some resistance-exercises. I watch the weeping fig tree whose leaves cover the two open sides end to end. After five minutes I go back in to get ready to leave for work.

This morning, this Sunday morning, I arrived late on the balcony, having been slow to finish each part of the morning routine. The day had broken in full, but the cool of morning prevailed. The tree before the balcony has shed the last of its fruits, and new ones have sprouted, tiny and colourful and looking like seed. From the street below, voices came up of late-starters in conversation as they walked or ran.

A shake of small branches straight ahead pulled my eyes. Another flutter followed. And another. A tiny brown bird hopped out from the greens onto a thicker branch, with an inch-long worm in its beak. It swung its head right and left, right and left, swinging the worm with its motions. Then it hopped to another branch and began to beat the worm on it, again and again and again. To numb it before devouring it?

Once he had smashed his catch to his satisfaction, with quick short jerks of his head he swallowed his breakfast in four-five takes. In all that time, he’d not for one moment been at risk of dropping his meal from his mouth.

The entire thing lasted a couple of minutes, an interesting watch of one small life consumed by another. Done, the little ball of a bird — with a needle for a beak — turned and took two hops and flew out of view — to hunt, or be hunted.