Benita Adesuyan’s got a touch of empty nest syndrome. It might be her neighbour’s fault.
Moving house is as common as a sunny day in Dubai. But after spending weeks searching for the right place, at the right price, countless viewings and arguments about room sizes and bathrooms, I finally found a lovely place to nest. Having a balcony was one of my deal breakers, and my new spot had ample outdoor space. To make it feel more homely, I decided to go to the garden centre and buy a little cluster of plants, bushes and flowering trees, and in one weekend the balcony was transformed into a little oasis of calm in the concrete jungle.
That was until the birds moved in.
To begin with it was cute, I loved that I had a lush space that I enjoyed and that the little birdies were enjoying it too. They’d hop onto the railings as I had coffee on the weekends and tweet and twitter away.
They even made a nest in the tallest tree. It was a small encounter with nature that you rarely get in the city’s high rise communities. But the sweet tweeting in the morning soon became more like a battle cry.
The birds had laid three purple mottled eggs in the nest and were being ultra-protective. Watering the plants became a mission worthy of Tom Cruise. I found myself staking out the balcony for the opportune time to pop out with the watering can, but getting caught out on their turf would result in a dive attack that would send me ducking for cover. The balcony had become a battleground and we retreated, letting the birds take control of the terrace.
Morning coffees outdoors had become a thing of the past, the sunrise stretching made impossible. The hatchlings now ruled the roost. They had moved in and become noisy neighbours without paying rent. The battle of the balcony raged on for two weeks, and intensified when the chicks arrived.
The new arrivals came into the world with even more squawking and noise. Being a real urban girl, I don’t get too many animal encounters, and being woken up daily by hungry chicks was no fun. Why was I having to endure the early mornings? They’re not my babies!
Yet I couldn’t help but feel a certain affection for them. The fluffy grey chicks sat in the protection of the tree, hungrily waiting for mum to come with food. I even saw them take their first few weak-kneed steps.
Then one morning I ventured out to water the plants and it was silent. I tentatively popped out to the balcony, taking a peek into their tree to find they had gone. They hadn’t even left a note to say: ‘I’m leaving you. It’s not you, it’s me, we’ve outgrown you.’ Despite all the noise and the mess, I shall miss our little balcony babies. Maybe they’ll remember their way back, and I can brace myself for round two.