Illustration to a Ragamala Series: Gujari Ragini
by Hamid Ruknuddin
Bikaner, Rajasthan, India.
There is a peacock, still, in the bottomland, near the willowed stream bed: I hear it at evening time. There were a few of them; escaped, I suppose- a couple of years ago. The neighbor was annoyed by them- they were vocal, and they tramped around his foolish little lawn. Well, what is a lawn for anyway? And who are we to say who tramps on it? Well, these are not the questions that everyone lives by, I realize. He had some tenants of his trap and sell the females and they disposed of the male- by what I expect was gunshot. I don't tell you this so you may be outraged, or indignant, I tell you this because there are a billion little deaths, little lives ending every instant. I tell you this because I miss them, the little band of peacocks, and I wonder what that last lonely peahen or cock might be feeling when I hear it.
I noticed on a postage stamp that Flannery O'Connor had peacock plumes behind her, and I thought of our little muster of peafowl. I asked the big reader in my life what he knew of Flannery O'Connor and peacocks and he found that she kept them, and that their feathers often ornamented her volumes.
Who could resist? We ordered a collection of essays called Mystery and Manners from the library south of us. It commences with a piece called The King of the Birds. If you can live without reading it, okay, you'll probably have extra time then to mow your lawn, but if you do read it, and you then find that you cannot live without peafowl, I support you in your decision. I will drop by later with a bag of Startena and we can enjoy watching them together.
It was Hera who set the eyes of Argus Panoptes into her beloved Peacock's tail. Here is another many-eyed pheasant you might enjoy: The Great Argus.