Our Evening Visitor

A chirpy bird descends on even the gloomiest of us, stuck indoors amidst a raging pandemic, with something of the blessing of a fine day. So it is with the oriental magpie-robin, our evening visitor.

For the past two years or so that we know him, he has been touching base around seven o’clock. Till date he hasn't arrived beyond 7.17 p.m. We make it a point to retire by the time of the Angelus prayer and let him come into our veranda at ease. Soon our feathered friend drifts down from the dark sky, greeting our household with a melodious chirp just a few syllables long. Is that merely to announce his arrival? No. It feels more like a polite request for permission to stay the night.

Night after night it’s the same pleasant story. The gentle bird settles on the clothes drying rack, at the very same point, and there’s not a sound from him thereafter.

Once we spotted him flying out, almost certainly with a quick goodbye chirp, a few minutes after four… perhaps to bathe in the morning dew, before getting on with the day’s work….

Will he ever hullo us at our place of work?! Maybe he did fly across to us sometime in the past, but in our usual hullabaloo we might well have overlooked the visitation…

In these grim times, as we humbly reach out to help Nature heal, we wish to be a little more hospitable and offer our honoured guest food and water. But we are no experts: could someone advise us on the protocol?

Tailpiece: Today, as we find ourselves practically under house arrest, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the birds in the sky come across as particularly carefree.  We finally understand the full import of the Scriptural passage: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Mt 6: 26)