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Stories. 
Birds are for the Sky
by R. Purushothaman

In my study-room you will find a golden cage. Now it is empty. But it was not so. It had the most beautiful bird. It was also equally intelligent. The cage and the bird – a parakeet – was a gift from my father on my birthday.

The bird did not die. No, no, it did not slip out of the cage. So you want to know what had happened to the bird. Let me tell you.

Now let us go back to my boyhood days. Then I was a small boy.

One day as usual I had woken up from my bed and reached for my favorite parakeet. Besides being the most beautiful, it could also talk. Every morning it will wish me good morning. It was really pleasant for me to listen to it.

That day when I had reached for the bird, it was not greeting me with the usual `good morning’. Of course, it did greet me after a while. But, before that, do you know what it had said? It was loud and clear and I could not believe my own ears.

“Ah, here comes the most wonderful guy. Wherefrom he got this extraordinary face, I don’t know. What a nose? Must be the longest nose. He looks more funny than anything else in the world. Okay okay, let me tell the usual thing to him : `good morning saab. Wish you a nice day’.

I said aloud “Do I hear it properly or I just imagine something?’

‘What are you telling ? How is it that you are talking my language today?”

“What! you can understand and answer me also?”

“If you talk in my language I can very well answer in the same way”

“Is that, you don’t like my face? Do you find it really funny?”

“Oh that is different. It looks somewhat funny that is all. I like you. It seems you really love me. But the fact is your face looks more funny to me. Really you are having the funniest face. Would you mind if I tell, your face looks funny?”

“Not the least. At least, you are honest in telling my face looks funniest. But you see I cannot avoid it. Because I was born with this funniest face. It is not my fault.”

“Don’t be apologetic. Is it wrong to be born with a funny face? Thank God, you are having a funny face. Some are having repulsive face, weeping face, gloomy face ……. Let us not bother about those faces. Let them have their faces and we will have our faces with us. What do you think of my face. Is it equally funny to you?”

“Yes, it givers me a great fun to see your lovely face and the curved red beak and tail like wing.”

“Okay let us agree that both of us are equally funny. We both are funny looking creatures. Can I ask you one question?”

“Why not?”

“Why do you keep me in this cage?”

“What! Don’t you like to be here? Do you know, the cage is the costliest one available in the market. I chose and my father purchased it for you.”

“Is it so? Do you really like this cage?”

“Of course I like this very much. That is why I purchased it.”

“You silly fellow, you are a blatant liar. You are lying. I am sure you are lying.”

“No, no, no…I don’t know how can I make you understand it. I do really like this cage better than anything else. I don’t know how to make you understand this.”

“Okay if you really love this, prove it by doing one thing.”

“Tell me, I will do it.”

“Are you sure? Promise..”

“Yes I promise to do anything to prove that I like this cage.”

“If so, why don’t you put yourself inside this cage. Let us exchange our positions.”

“What? Do you expect me to put myself inside this cage?”

Why not? When you put me inside the cage which I don’t like, why don’t you put yourself inside the cage which you like very much?”

“I like the cage. But I cannot keep myself caged, even if it is big enough to accommodate me.”

“Why don’t you want to be caged?”

“I love to be free. I love to go around the world freely. I love to meet all my friends and talk to them and enjoy life.”

“Then what about me? Can’t I have the freedom to fly and be with my fiends and relatives? I had sisters, brothers and a lot of friends. I miss them all. I miss them very much. A cunning rascal came and trapped me. I was the naughtiest of all. Now I pay for my naughtiness.”

“But here you have fruits and nuts daily to eat. Will you get such fruits and nuts at your place. Can you get them served daily? Can you get them without any effort?”

“But all that I need most is freedom and not the fruits and nuts. Keep your fruits and nuts with you. Can I get the freedom here in this little cage? Oh, how I wish to scale the sky with my wings and fly with my brothers and sisters and friends. If at all you know how I miss them….. It is my fate. Do you really love to be free? If you really love to be free, how comes that you keep me imprisoned”

“Oh, my dear! I never thought of it. I am really sorry for you. Please forgive me. Let me open the cage. But remember, when you are out of the cage, the tom cat may catch and eat you in one gulp.”

“Then what will happen? I will simply die. That is really far better than the imprisoned life.”

“So, you prefer even to die rather than living within the golden cage ” I muttered myself. Then I silently opened the cage and let the bird out. The moment I opened the cage it flew away in a jiffy.

Now the cage is empty and the bird is no more.

But I can’t tell you whether it was a dream or really the parakeet and myself talked like human beings. The reality is the bird is now no more in the cage and I also decided not to put any more bird in the cage.

Now I know, the parakeets or any birds do belong to the sky and not to the cage however beautiful it may be.

Then why do I keep the cage? Just to remind me the value of freedom. Yes, freedom is more valuable than anything else in the world. Freedom is not only my birthright, it is the birthright of all living beings. He who loves freedom cannot keep any bird or animal imprisoned.    

Image under license with Gettyimages.com 

8-Oct-2006
 
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