The two little parrots, Mona and Shan were happily sitting on the rock, just having finished their lunch. Their parents had allowed them for the first time, to go and hunt for their lunch, all by themselves. Till now, the food was always brought for them. They had been kept protected from the external world and its dangers. But today, their mother had taken a decision to allow them to explore a bit on their own. And they had enjoyed every bit of the freedom.
The river flowing next to the rocks, appeared rather lazy. The occasional whiff of air sent the leaves and the branches of the surrounding trees rustling and bustling, as if they were having a merry dance. Mona was keenly observing a piece of thick thread lying on the adjacent rock. “It would be ideal for tying up their nest from the outside,” she herself. She had overheard her mother talking about looking for one such piece to make the nest stronger. Excitedly, she fluttered her green and orange wings at the thought of telling her mother about this discovery.
But it was too late. A net came and fell on both. Mona panicked, and tried to pass through it. But the rope of the mesh was too strong for the poor little bird. Both struggled in vain. Two boys jumped down from the branch above them. The boys quickly gathered the net with the fluttering parrots trying desperately to find their freedom.
The boys, Ram and Suresh, were twelve and fourteen years of age respectively. Suresh shouted out, “Ram, it is after ten days of waiting and trying that we have succeeded.”
“Yes, what luck! We have two lovely parrots now to play with.”
“Let’s go home and put them in the cage we have made, “Suresh said laughingly.
Both ran home with the parrots securely caught in their hands.
Mona and Shan were terribly frightened. They had never experienced this kind of rough treatment before. Often, they had seen human beings, but they had appeared to be a gentle lot. These two were totally different. Shan thought of the warning given by his father to keep alert. But all this had happed so suddenly. The net had come down so swiftly on them! And it was a very heavy one, or else they could have flown away with it.
Mona thought of her mother anxiously waiting for them. If only she could know their plight!
“Look Dadaji, we have brought something special. Two parrots!” Ram proudly showed them to his grandfather who was lying on the cot, basking in the sun. A frown gathered shape on his forehead seeing the two little parrots, but he lovingly patted them on their back. “Ah! They are very small.”
“Aren’t they beautiful, Dadaji?” Suresh asked, jumping in the air.
“Yes, of course. But, Suresh,” Dadaji halted to chew up the beetle leaf in his mouth, “it would not be good to cage these parrots. They are very young. We should not take away their freedom. They belong to the sky.”
Just then, Amla, the mother of the boys, came out of their hut. She saw the parrots
in Ram’s hand. Suresh was cleaning the cage lying next to Dadaji’s bed. Amla anxiously asked them, “Where have you both been? I was getting worried. And where did you get these parrots from?”
Suresh quickly spoke, “Mama, we had gone to the jungle. We caught them there.”
“Don’t tell us you are going to cage them?” Amla asked in an annoyed tone.
Ram told her with enthusiasm, “Yes, mama, we are going to cage them. They will play with us.”
Amla had a disapproving expression on her face. “You will not do that. Birds should never be caged. Especially when they are so young. Set them free. They are meant to fly, and not to be caged.”
Suresh said pleadingly, “But mama, we will look after them. Let us keep them.”
Ram also joined in, “Yes, please let us keep them.”
Amla spoke sternly, “No. Fly them away. Look how scared they are!”
Ram was in tears. He quickly ran away with the parrots, saying, “No, I will keep them.” Suresh followed him. Amla was about to pursue them when Dadaji said, “Amla, wait. They will not understand like this. Let them keep the parrots for the time being. We’ll have to teach them in their own way.”
The next morning when Ram and Suresh woke up, their parents were to be seen nowhere. The children finished with the morning chores on their own, thinking that they must have gone to cut the wood from the jungle.
While having breakfast, Ram asked Dadaji, “Where is papa? He never takes so long in the jungle.”
Dadaji somberly patted him on his back, “Son, your papa and mama have been taken away by the police. Maybe, they may not come back for days.”
Both the boys were shocked. They did not speak for a while. Suresh then spoke with tears in his eyes, “But, that is strange. What did they do?”
Dadaji answered shaking his head, “I don’t know. The police came early in the morning and has taken them to the police station. They wanted to talk to them in the police station.”
Ram started crying, “Oh God! Please keep my mama and papa safe! How shall I live without them?”
Suresh looked frightened and caught hold of Dadaji’s arm, “What will we do now? Who will take care of us?”
Ram came and sat in Dadaji’s lap, “Dadaji, my mama will miss me surely.” He turned towards the photograph of Lord Krishna hung on the wall. “Krishnaji, please help us. I want my mummy and papa back. I will listen to whatever my mama says, I promise.” His sobs melted Dadaji’s heart and he hugged Ram to his chest.
Just then Amla walked in with Naveen, her husband. She quickly went and took Ram into her arms. Suresh jumped into his father’s arms.
Naveen asked his son, “So, did you miss us?”
Wiping his tears, Suresh answered with joy in his eyes, “Of course. Thank God, the police left you so soon. Dadaji was saying that you may not come back for days.”
Holding Suresh close to him, Naveen told him, “You see son, how painful it is for you if someone you love goes away suddenly.”
Dadaji then spoke, “My children, your parents had not been taken away by the police. I told you that they may come back after many days, only to make you realise how sad the parents of the young parrots must be feeling with their children not having returned home last night.”
Ram looked at his mother, “Mama, we felt terrible to know that you may not come back for such a long time.” He hugged her warmly.
Amla patted his head, “Don’t worry, we are back. It was only to make you understand that it is not right to cage innocent birds and make them stay away from home.” She embraced him tightly.
Suresh spoke slowly and softly with realisation in his voice, “Yes, I think it was wrong on our part to have caught the parrots. They must be missing their parents too.”
Ram caught hold of his brother’s arm, “Come Suresh, let’s go and free the small parrots. They would be so happy to fly back home!”
Dadaji smilingly patted both and they ran off to free Mona and Shan from the cage.