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The Sounds Of A Safe Haven

The sound of the heavy machinery irks me, but it brings back fond memories of a time when I didn’t have to listen to the terrifyingly painful thud of an old tree falling to the ground. A time when I woke up to the sound of chirping birds, the touch of a cool breeze. A time when I looked out my window and saw a hazy mist above a field of tall grass speckled with newly growing trees, flocks of white sheep and the bare brown bottoms of villagers that weren’t accustomed to the idea of a western toilet seat. Now, I wake up to the sound of drills, saws, hammers and cement trucks reversing, look out at a dark grey wall, scarcely covered by a thin blue tarpaulin sheet and weak scaffolding tied together with long pieces of rope and plastic.

I sit in my room, covering my ears and trying not to look in the direction of the falling trees. I remember when they were only a year or two old and the trunks seeped with an amber liquid that I, as an 11 year old child, would imagine to be a treasure I always wondered if chipping away tiny pieces of bark would reveal a bigger treasure, but I wouldn't do it for fear of hurting the growing tree. I collected tiny pieces of the semi-solid liquid and moulded it between my small fingers, while recalling the story of the girl in my school text-book whose father made her a necklace from tree-sap. Maybe I could make myself a necklace?

The mighty tree being chopped would reveal now, not a treasure of gold liquid, but a many-ringed trunk of precious homes lost by loving animals that greeted me every morning. Even on mornings like these when we listened in dismay to the diesel-fueled tools being prepared for their task ahead.

The whirring of the saw created a wedge between burrowed branches that held the nest of a family of squirrels, the massive impact of the falling trunk breaking a tall red anthill that once stood in all its splendour as a monument for every child to measure themselves against, the strewn leaves on the ground that now reveal their undersides covered with eggs of the red swallowtail butterflies, the birds flying overhead in a fury looking for their evening pathway, the cuckoo wondering where she can lay her egg now that a the warbler's nest has fallen, the warbler looking at her clutch of eggs splattered in pieces.

I walk outside, as fast and as far away from the drilling as possible. The resilient creatures working hard to make the world beautiful even when all is lost. A pair of sunbirds glistening as they flutter over a cluster of red flowers, a spotted dove cooing as it ruffles its feathers, a group of chattering mynas sitting high up so as to be inconspicuous, not realising their morning gossip is audible to every other bird, a Eurasian hoopoe flashing its bright crown and striped back as it hops around to catch any careless insects, an acrobatic drongo swooping down and catching any missed by his crowned friend, the paradise flycatcher swinging by with its long tail and cinnamon feathers, gets in a small fight over a tasty bug with the drongo, the red whiskered bulbul serenading the guests at this breakfast buffet, the rufous treepie duo compete with the bulbul for the stage and I stand below with my sweet dog, watching and listening carefully, soaking it all in. For I much preferred these, the sounds of a safe haven.

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