Photo-Essay: Musings from the backyard

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By Sriti Ganguly

When Covid-19 struck the world in the month of February 2020, I, like everyone else, was confined to home. For someone who used to step out everyday and spend much of her time in research and writing in the university’s library to return home only in the evening, it was hard to remain at home for a period whose end was nowhere in sight. But lockdown also meant that a recently developed interest in nature and bird photography had to be halted. I could no longer go to the university campus whose rich diversity of birds and foliage had fostered this interest in the first place. While I struggled and kept busy with household chores, reading and writing, the only source of recreation was the time spent in our terrace garden. But my itch to use the camera did not leave me and the mobility restrictions imposed by the pandemic forced me to search for the photogenic in my own backyard.

Gradually I started noticing the birds and their calls in my own neighbourhood and recognized the diversity that existed around me. I was thrilled to see the roufous treepies, brown rock chats and yellow-footed green pigeons around me. Indian Silverbills have made their nest on a dense creeper that emerges from the 8th floor of our apartment and goes all the way down to the ground floor. I was thrilled on the day I found one of them nonchalantly picking fresh green grass from her terrace garden to build her nest. Similarly, a bird in a bowing posture at sunset amused me and made me wonder whether it was in a contemplative mode or merely looking down at its feet to check if it is time for a pedicure.

From things bigger my focus gradually shifted to the smaller and quieter, how beauty unfolded in a glistening water droplet that had delicately balanced itself on a rose petal after a heavy shower or a when falling sunlight brightened up a part of a butterflies’ wing. There were visitors in the backyard whose arrival and flutters did not make any sound. I began to marvel at the dragon flies whose wings with glass-like transparency sparkled on summer afternoons. Or the green hairstreak butterflies who camouflaged themselves amidst the leaves so well that their sudden appearance would startle me. These creatures were so agile that to combat their restlessness I had to find more patience within myself. I learnt to tiptoe. I learnt to be still.

This should not be read as a romanticization of the pandemic or the lockdown which people with privilege have been doing without acknowledging their privilege. These are musings of someone who found some sense of solace and sanity in an otherwise challenging time and yes, perhaps my privileges allow me to muse.

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Bio:
Sriti Ganguly
is a lecturer at School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, OP Jindal Global University and a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her interest includes urban sociology and sociology of education. She is a cinephile and an amateur photographer. 

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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Travel Writing: A mode of constructing knowledge”, edited by Raeesa Usmani, Surat, India.

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