The alcove


When I count my blessings, the little alcove in my first-floor flat finds its way right to the top. Set with windows that frame wide panes of lightly tinted glass, it overlooks dense shrubbery rearing its head from the garden below. It forms a sheltered and pleasant retreat. Here in this cozy corner, I can shed the humdrum of routine and settle down to watch the world go by.

Through a leafy curtain I see people intent on their errands. What is it, I wonder, that impels their hurrying steps? Then there are couples, young and old, holding hands and enjoying a leisurely stroll. One can watch too those that take their dogs for a walk. Some of them, in particular the Labradors, are a pliant lot; others, pulling on their leashes, take their masters on a breathless and undignified run.

Much closer to the eye are the insects. On gossamer, iridescent wings, they settle on swaying flowers in search of the nectar hidden in their depths. Butterflies, their wings in dappled orange, green and blue, flutter from flower to flower. They dip their slender proboscis and reach the heart of the blossoms. Flies and bees in varied shapes and sizes buzz and hum. They settle for brief moments on tripping feet. How do so many share so little, I ask myself.

What is most heart-warming, however, are the birds — the tailor bird, the bulbuls and the barbets. Their visits take on an added urgency during the breeding season. Lured by the unbroken stretch of foliage created by the tinted glass, they come in search of nesting places. They see a reflection of themselves and perceiving what they believe are competitors, launch a brave attack.

They peck savagely on the glass leaving little dots and dents. Failure does not deter them and they come day after day in pursuit of their dream-homes. This gives me an opportunity to observe them at close quarters. Each is a marvel of exquisite beauty. From slender beak to delicate feet, they are coloured extravagantly and fashioned perfectly.
Cocooned in quiet comfort, I allow myself to drift into a meditative mood. No wonder, I tell myself, that the great poet, Wordsworth, was a worshipper of Nature and the ‘Garden of Eden’ another name for ‘Paradise’!

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