Maa Nishada. Valmiki curses the hunter that killed the Krauncha (Sarus crane) during its mating dance. Sage Valmiki ends his meditation and is enjoying watching a pair of the very same cranes when the hunter happens to kill one. That curse happens to be the first of 24,000 poems that make the epic Ramayana.

The Sarus crane is close to six feet tall. When I came to know that the bird was in a zoo 20 miles away, it felt like that was a sign. I had to paint this scene. Off to Cougar Mountain Zoo to observe Sirasa in action, I went. With the zoo keeper’s prompt, Sirasa threw her head back and did the call.