If you were to look up as you, say, approached my building on foot; you would see largish things circling the various tiled roofs of our building, occasionally flying silhouetted against the moon.
Once you got closer, you would hear the occasional scream and the whump whump whump of massive wings coming from above. No we haven’t settled in Mordor (“Go left from Sauron’s fort, past the Orc kindergarten, and turn into the blue gate next to the Nazgul enclosure”), but close enough.
It started tamely enough a few months back. Our area was thick with pigeons which went ghuuu ghuuu in that bubbly orgasmic way of theirs. One night we heard an asthmatic wheezing on our windowsill very late at night. “Poor baby pigeon doesn’t have much longer. Awww.” We said.
Turns out it lived very long and wasn’t much of a baby pigeon, unless a rampaging horde of big-assed owls can be considered 'a dying baby pigeon'.
That’s right. I’m angry.
First we had the whole monkey episode, and then big black hairy buffaloes began to chase cars down the streets. My theory is that stray dogs thought outnumbering us humans two to one wasn’t bad enough; they had to introduce these otherwise docile, water loving animals to the joys of cantering down the streets of our neighbourhood and snapping at the tyres of panic-stricken vehicles.
Then the pigeons with pigeon poo and feathers flying everywhere; and now this.
To get back to the story at hand, we withstood the death rattle of the dying pigeon (as we innocently thought it was) for a sleepless week or so. Then one day, I came home from work and thought I saw a white shape leaning against the railing in our balcony. It gave me quite a scare, it did, because (a) my husband inflicts ghost movie after ghost movie on me, which can make the bravest person jumpy, and (b) it was a white shape leaning against the banister, in a most affectedly casual manner.
After I’d done being startled, I walked over to the French windows to get a closer look and was amazed and very relieved to see a HUGE white owl sitting on the banister with its wings crossed behind its back, looking for all the world like an elderly portly gentleman taking the air on a full moon night.
More like the little girl in “The Omen”, I decided, as the bird rotated its head all the way round to blink at me ominously.
So we had an owl, how delightful. I resolved to take picturesque photos and show them around proudly. "See how we live in the lap of nature", I would say.
Next day the dying pigeon started up again and I staggered out of bed at the dead of night with every intention of ending its misery. Imagine my surprise, when not one baby pigeon (at death's door or otherwise) but two owls freakishly spun their necks around to regard me curiously. "Hoosh" I whispered and flapped my hand at them feebly. (Sleep deprivation). They just cocked their heads at each other and smirked as if to say “Check out this human. Does it think we are a dying pigeon to hoosh at us?”
And believe me I huffed and puffed and flapped my arms and called them names, but all they did was spin their heads around like the freaks they were from less than a foot away.
Then it dawned on me and my husband that we had wasted sympathy on nothing while these strapping owls in the pink of health wheezed and panted through our sleepless nights and occasional fitful nightmares.
(To be Continued)