This peacock was one of the few friends I had while I was in Delhi. It would make occasional visits to the staff quarters where I resided and perch atop the wall relieving itself from the burden of its brilliant plumage. Our friendship went little beyond that: he found a place to relax in peace and I admired him from a distance. We never disturbed each other. In fact, my existence meant nothing to him in all probability.
He sought nothing from me. He was not concerned with whatever I did so long as he was not disturbed. Nothing of what I did scandalised him. He had no morality to preach, no religion, no politics. No sham.
Just a few yards away from where he sat lay the sprawling grounds of a religious cult which used to attract thousands of devotees whenever the godman (Baba, they called him) condescended to make a public apparition. The peacock would never be seen on such days. There was not even a distant screech. Probably no one understood better than him the importance of the distance between oneself and such religions.
Today the place belongs to neither him nor me. The Baba encroached upon it, cut down every single tree, demolished the buildings and converted the entire area into parking space for his devotees’ vehicles. A lot of morality is preached on those arid grounds these days. Thousands of people listen to the sermons. They greet each other with a formula. They utter formulas and call them prayers. They belong to a community.
The peacock and I don’t have communities. We don’t use formulas to greet each other. We don’t sermonise or moralise. We don’t sing alleluias to godmen and their cronies. As a result, today we live in two different worlds rendered apart by a few thousand kilometres. He must have found a new perch just as I have found a nest far away from holy people. I miss him sometimes, though.