A gentle breeze touched my face with a gentle sway and my eyes almost closed as I sighted my new abode. It was going to be my first night at an Old Age Home and as I found no sign of sleep in my eyes, I decided to conduct a survey of the place.
Suddenly my feeble foot stepped onto a mushy sort of thing. There was a small streak of light falling at the ground,through which my hand fumbled and touched the thing. Without identifying it, I held it in my hands and entered my room.
I almost jumped with surprise when I found that it was a wounded baby-parrot which must have lost its way and got entangled in a bush of thorns. I dressed its wounds and made it rest beside me on the bed. The whole night was spent looking at the baby parrot as it rested in peace. A sort of chilled joy groped me and I don’t know when the
sleep engulfed my eyes and put me to rest.
As I sat on the dining table, I saw my son David’s face severely gazing his breakfast plate consisting a pair of sandwich, a boiled egg and a very hot cup of milk. He was desperately trying to hide his anger beneath his gaze, failing to understand that I was his father and was obviously familiar with almost all gestures of his body language. It took me no time to understand that Daisy, my daughter-in-law was the cause behind David’s act. It’s almost a decade since David married Daisy and brought her home and I lost Golda, my wife , who courageously fought cancer but finally succumbed to
its will. I was very happy because Daisy was Golda’s choice and this always made me withdraw all my anger towards the latter, which I would have otherwise lent out at her for being a highly irresponsible wife to my son.
David looked at me , trying hard to cast a smile but failed. I knew that he wanted to share his feelings with me but I never asked him. As the head of my family, I always ensured freedom of speech to all the members and David was no stranger. “Dad! I wish to talk to you regarding a serious matter. Can we meet this evening? Daisy is leaving to her mother’s place and we can talk freely.” David requested and I replied with a nod. “What was he going to talk to me in Daisy’s absence?” I asked myself and eagerly waited for the evening .
“Dad! I know that you have always proven to be a pillar of support to me and have never let me down on any occasion. I hope you will understand me and my true intention in telling you that my familial happiness lies in your exit from this house. I have even arranged your stay at an OLD AGE HOME , where you can live peacefully, away from the bickering of your daughter-in-law and helplessness of your son.” saying this, David left the room like an unfaithful soldier from the
His comments required no explanation from my side and taking it as a king’s verdict, I decided to pack my bags in the evening. For the first time, I felt happy inwardly to note that Golda did not live to see the desperation of her only son where he had to fight with his conscience to throw his father out of his own house.
A sudden knock at the door woke me up and finding the baby- parrot still resting, I opened the door. Raghuram, the caretaker, had come to wake me as it was time to offer morning prayers. I told him that I wanted to stay back in the room and pray. Later I got his permission to retain the baby-parrot with me as long as I wanted. I expressed my happiness at his kind and non-irritating gesture through a strong hand-shake. He was very happy that a small noble gesture by him could actually make someone so very happy. He left and I ,once again,joined my baby-parrot in dressing its wound.
“Sir! Do you want something from the daily market? I am going to purchase things for the other inmates.” Raghuram asked me in the afternoon as I was washing my utensils after a heavy lunch.
“Please do get me a small, comfortable cage for the parrot. It is unsafe to keep him in the open.” I said and Raghuram smiled, “Sir! A cage is a cage whether comfortable or uncomfortable. Anyway, I will get a good one for your parrot.”I pondered at his comment for a moment and soon joined the parrot.
Today, almost four months have passed and my baby -parrot has grown up. In my parrot , I visualise David’s childhood. I have kept a small plastic cup inside the cage. Kittu, as my parrot is fondly called by me, drinks water in that cup and in the evening, after emptying the water from the cup, he uses the same cup as a helmet because he doesn’t like the light from the glowing tube or bulb. The sight is so funny that I keep laughing for hours together and in between my laughter riots, Kittu removes his helmet and snubs me with a loud screech.
Meanwhile, David frequently visited me at the old age home but now he limited his visits once in three months and even more. I didn’t wish to remember his presence at my doorstep but poor fellow had to be formal otherwise what would his boss and the other people say! Last week, David brought his wife along and her face,as she saw me, reminded me of a monkey who has just eaten some unpleasant food and is neither able to gulp it nor throw it. “I pardon you, Daisy, because I have never heard an old man getting a fair treatment at the hands of his son and daughter-in-law. But
don’t worry, I have my Kittu with me and I never even miss you people anymore.”
My silent soliloquy was interrupted by the screech of Kittu, who reminded me that it was time for his evening walk.
I excused myself and leaving David and Daisy in utter astonishment at my weird gesture, I went out with Kittu. I felt victorious-victorious to make the two realise that I no longer wanted their fake gratitude and I could live well in their absence too. That evening, Kittu and I played for many hours and during the play, I vent out all my anguish in front of him. I wept a lot in doing so but after that day I never allowed my eyes to moisten. It was the same David whom I had asked once, after we had returned from Church, that what did he ask in his prayers to Lord? To which he had replied, “
Dad! I asked God to make me the most dutiful child so that I shall always take care of my father in his old age.”.
……….. THE FAKE WORLD AND ITS FAKE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway, now there was no room for such statements in my life because these fake words held no meaning in front of Kittu’s in comprehensive screeches.
I was growing older and Kittu was getting more and more attached to me. One day Raghuram informed me that I had to be taken to the nearby hospital for annual medical check-up. In the hospital, I was advised not to exert myself as my asthma could take a bad shape. What could be bad in this world than to be thrown out by your own people? I took a deep breath and left the hospital. On the way, I kept thinking about my priest -friend, Jacob, who had expressed his desire to see me and pray for me. Two days later , Jacob visited me and we went out for a long walk, leaving Kittu in the custody of Raghuram.
There was a crowd of inmates near Raghuram’s office as we reached near the old age home’s front gate. We jostled through the crowd and as Kittu saw me through his cage, he almost shook the whole cage in his flush of rage. He screeched desperately as to punish me for having left him in the hands of Raghuram. I couldn’t bear to see
this heart-touching sight. I immediately pounced on the cage , took my Kittu out of it , embraced him hard to my heart and wept loudly. All the inmates were stunned at such a show of sentiments exchanged between an old man and a small parrot. I cried, “ No my Kittu, My child! I shall never leave you alone again.”
David never visited me again. Only the monetary installments reached me through Raghuram. But I was happy in my world with My Kittu. Kittu had now started eating chocolates too. One day, in order to irritate him, I took a green chilli and left it in his cage. He was about to hold it in his beak, when suddenly his eyes fell on my long piece of a paper-wrapped chocolate and THAT WAS ALL. He didn’t speak to me for three days . Finally his silence broke after seeing another similar chocolate in his cage. Such was my Kittu, my child, My Only Child!
Many more months passed by. My physical condition was receding at a great pace. One day I called Raghuram and said, “ Raghu! I think now it is the right time to take Kittu away from me as I could be hospitalized any moment. I have a plan. Under the pretext of taking him for a morning walk, take him to a nearby jungle and open the cage. He is big enough now to fly away.” Raghu looked at me in surprise. He could not dare to do so as he had earlier witnessed the wrath of Kittu but I forced him to do so and finally he agreed to free Kittu, the very next day.
“Sir, Kittu has flown away but with much difficulty. He was not coming out of the cage so I kept some eatables under a tree and it succumbed to them.” After Raghu left, I felt happy but tinged with sadness. I had cheated my only child and God will never forgive me for this act. However, I convinced myself as it was an appropriate act to free Kittu from the cage . He had provided me so much happiness and fun through that cage and now the cage was with me, a reminder of the abode of my son! That night, I felt a sort of congestion in my chest and moved out under the open sky.
On one such night, I had met Kittu’s wounded body and today my Kittu had been freed by me to move on to the new horizons. I looked at the sky and prayed to God to take care of my child. As I sat down, thinking of Kittu, I rested my head on a huge stone and slept in the open. It was a sound sleep which normally comes to people when they are assured of having finished all sorts of responsibilities in life . I even snored loudly and sometimes woke up with my own snore.
“Screech! Screech! Screech.”A sound woke me up in the early morning but I found no one there. I scrubbed my eyes and as I got up to enter my room, I again heard this screech. “No! It cannot be a dream. My Kittu is somewhere near.”I said. Soon a thorough search was done near the mango tree and there I located a pair of two tiny eyes gazing at me. My Kittu was back. Looking at him, I started walking back to my room and there he was, near the cage, ready to move into his abode. Half-heartedly I opened the cage -door and he hopped in.
For sometime, there was no communication between us. Kittu knew that I was angry with his comeback. Suddenly he took the plastic cup and put it as a helmet as if to save himself from my outburst. I broke out my laughing-riot at his gesture and he removed the helmet as usual. I took him out of the cage and embraced him. At that moment we silently vowed to each other that we will never get separated and only death of any one of us will do us apart…..