Orange Sky

The sky was blue, and I hated it. Orange Sky was what I waited for; so was my lens. I was but merely one among the many in the wild goose chase to capture what was now officially called the Orange Sky- a rare hornbill sighted recently in the area.

Hope had turned into excitement and gradually into impatience, as the days tested me. A snap was coveted; it could be the launchpad! The aspiration to photograph nature had emerged when a silhouette of a bird innocently intruded into my frame, while I clicked the open sky for a college contest. The decisions since then needed a culmination. Orange Sky was it.

I had been idle for hours now, like a self-portrait. Thoughts had wandered further than I had. Daylight would soon fade, and evenings had ‘zero possibility’ of sighting the bird, experts said. I didn’t believe birds had schedules- there was a reason why they were synonymous with freedom.

I lit a cigarette. Nothing moved around me. The leaves did not have their delicate dance. Or did they wave only when we were watching? My eyes had been fixed on the towering chestnut tree, a hundred feet in front of me. It seemed intriguing – like it held something for me.

And it did.

From the dense branches, the orange presence suddenly turned evident. My bare eyes framed the Orange Sky, hopping to the open end of the branch; it was about to take off. I pecked the cigarette on the ground; absolutely careful not to notify the bird of my presence. I armed myself with the Nikon. Carefully but quickly, I focussed it to perfection- my ticket to fame!

The bird was still within the shades of overlapping branches. The beak stood profound, shouting out the family. My heart beat hard. That’s how it was. Always. It could even disturb the bird’s calm. Click now, the brain sent the signal. But the heart said to wait. It was dangerous to wait, I had learned. The click may never happen if the moment passed. But I waited. Heart banged along.

Then, as if honouring my gut feel, the hornbill spread its wings and emerged from the shades. My heart slipped downward, as Orange Sky announced itself to us – me and the lens. I watched, astounded. The blue of the sky hid in shame. Orange conquered. My fingers turned numb in the splendour. Seconds passed like hours. On the lens was the very sight I longed for. But the sight itself had struck me- its liberation, the lust for air, the blazing feathers; it was overwhelming for my world of aspirations, a world that suddenly seemed small. I knew even my perfect shot could not freeze the beauty it was.

It was unfair, to even try.

Would others too feel this? The sense of worship, or reverence, or was it love? All for a being that was free in its own realm. Was this my failure? An epiphany, perhaps?

My lens had lost the bird. It may have been minutes back. The daylight was fading. The blue never regained its prime. I felt calm. I packed my kit and set off to the clearing – my way out.

Above me, an orange sky loomed till the horizon, to as far as I could see.

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