Calm Canaries

Carnivals make me happy. If you are able to feel the pulse of a carnival, you are able to experience a kind of exultant joy, an abandonment a carefree spirit of pure fun. Clusters of coloured balloons, painted bridges, bright pink candyfloss, , happy faces. And the blessed freedom—parrots can talk to pigeons and black crows can dress up as white doves, without the colour factor bothering them. Sparrows can sit near Eagles without giving a hoot (literally), for the class factor separating them, in the real big bad world of the sky. The coastal storks also come a-visiting, intermingling with their earthbound cousins—the kiwis and the emus, all blending together in an atmosphere of the carnivalesque. What’s more, to add to the fun and the holy confusion, all the hens have decided to dress up as cocks and roosters and a peacock is walking around in drag! The migratory birds have arrived too, accent in tow, from “the IS of A, dahling”, but seem happy enough to rub shoulders with the rest of the continents, even the burqa-clad kites from the Middle East who have dressed up, In a fit of imagination and creativity, as decorated turkeys! Phew!

But the calm canaries are far from happy. Usually, they remain unruffled and completely calm, content in their sage-like wisdom of centuries. They were completely, some say even deathly calm, when the black crows were lynched. Ku-Klux Klan, the y coughed alliteratively and then kept quiet. When the sea-birds from a little Island decided to travel to the East and enslaved the exotic peacocks, the canaries merely opened an eye and then shut it promptly again. When the Vulture indulged in an attempt of ethnic cleansing, driving out all the hook-nosed birds away, murdering and mass killing, the canaries tutted and made the right noises for they thought the Vulture was much too power-hungry. When the minority koels were being massacred, the canaries sharpened their rhetorical skills, giving high-flown speeches about adhering to the majority’s values and the religion of terrorists. When they espied oil reserves in the Middle East (they adore oil… to death), the canaries hammed again about the religion of terrorists, they searched frantically for weapons of mass destruction, they bombed and killed and in a fit of Manichean fancy, dictated, “Either you are with us, or against us.” When the poor died from malnutrition, when women were raped and farmers committed suicide, and little boys lost their hands in bomb blasts, the canaries just went off to sleep, they were that bored with the endless, repetitive monotony. But when they were interviewed, they gave all the proper polite answers.

So, this carnival disturbs the canaries deeply. Their usual inscrutability is slightly perturbed by the sight of people mixing freely. They do not like the profusion of colour, they disapprove of people forgetting their rightful place, they find the blended voices cacophonous. They are irritable, they have been clawing and cawing all afternoon—it is an unpleasant, chilly sound; it disturbs your peace. Yes, the canaries are irritable and fresh yellow trouble is brewing…

Zehra Kazmi
Indraprastha College