(The previous chirpters are just below the end of the Chirpter 2 as you scroll down)
My only nest-mate, with a pale black band developing around his neck, just like Pa, was more friendly with Pa. For Ma, both of us were equal but he didn’t appreciate that. He wanted to fly to far off places like Pa instead of just staying put in the small nest all day and sing.
But Pa was gone now. He just sat there in the nest, brooding about the future. Ma tried her best to cheer him to no avail. Sometimes he would not look at the food brought by Ma. That wasn’t fair. He was my brother. I cuddled up to him and told him Pa was gone now, never to return.
“Oh, but why?”, he was inconsolable, “Why can’t we have our Pa back?”
Ma, sitting quietly on the next branch of the tree, overheard it. She sighed and flew off. I shivered at the thought of losing both Pa and Ma. Who will fly out and bring food for us now?
Then we saw her, not Ma, but a huge black cat stealthily climbing up the tree, purring menacingly. We could clearly see her whiskers as she closed in.
One two and three, both of us, shell shocked, raised an alert, help, help!
The man in that house, with a tuft of grey hair, got up and looked at us from his window. He saw the cat getting closer.
He clapped loudly to scare the cat away. That didn’t work. He picked up some heavy bundle lying in the house and threw it at the cat, yelling at the same time to scare the cat away.
That worked. The cat hesitated and quickly retreated and disappeared among the bushes.
The man smiled as he saw our Ma flying back to protect us.
“Oh Ma, where were you?”
“Don’t worry, kids. It is time you learn to fly now”
The flying lessons started the same day in the right earnest.
I told you I was a slow learner but my brother was quick. He took to flying like the fish takes to water. Ma examined my little body carefully. My wings had not developed fully yet. I tried hard but they wouldn’t open. She was exasperated. Now the responsibility of protecting me from the predators fell on my brother whenever Ma was away in search of food.
Oh no! I was so keen to learn how to fly. I wanted to fly to that window, sit on the grill and sing for that man who was like an angel to us. What will he think of us? Sparrows have no etiquette?
Brother could fly but not sing. Ma was too busy. I didn’t want to be branded as an uncouth sparrow. Sometimes I heard strange but divine music from the house. I tried my best to sing along but my weak voice got drowned in the noise around the tree. Was he the one singing in the house? Or playing some instrument? I must find out soon.
It was spring time now. Cuckoo, the one with the most melodious voice, filled the atmosphere with divine songs. I saw the man always jumped and rushed at the window to listen to the Cuckoo. Once he even opened the wire net screen to listen. He had two big eyes, somewhat brownish, the forehead had some wrinkles that showed up as sharp lines across his forehead whenever he was looking at something with great attention.
Why couldn’t I sing like a Cuckoo? I will ask Ma when she returns.
“You can never sing like the Cuckoo, stupid”, my brother teased me.
“Why? What makes you say that?”, I didn’t like his negative attitude.
“Simple, you are not a Cuckoo, that is why. Ha Ha Ha”
“Shut up, will you? One day, I will sing better than the Cuckoo. Just watch”
“You cannot even fly”
“They are two entirely different things, understand?”, enough of the teasing.
I want to sing as well as the Cuckoo, even better. I will ask Ma. No, she never likes to teach how to sing. Oh yes, I can ask that man, behind the window in the big house to teach me. Crazy thoughts! I do not know him. But those melodious tunes that I hear from there?
I want to go to his window and sing. How stupid of me? I must be able to fly first.
It was spring time. Ma now brings insects and spiders for our meals, not the bland seeds of wheat grains and weeds. The tree was full of Champa flowers. Love was in the air. Ma looked happy now, I didn’t have the courage to ask her why. She is my Ma, let her be happy.
But one day the secret was out. She returned with another male sparrow. Together they flew in, singing love songs that I had never heard before. My brother joined me in welcoming them.
Ma told my new Pa to teach me to fly. He smiled, “Come on Tweaky, it is easy. Just let yourself go”
“But the wings don’t open up and my little body will plummet all the way to the ground”
“They will open, they have to, take my word for it”
“Ok, first I will try to fly to that window, just watch me”
I took off hastily and promptly fell to the ground. Luckily it was not a major fall. Pa flew over and comforted me, “It happens Tweaky, it happened to me, it happens to all of us”
“Just try again”, now Ma joined the party.
Right then I saw the kind man opening the window grill. He smiled benignly.
I must try now. He will teach me to sing like the Cuckoo. Fly baby, fly.
This time there was no fall. Ma and Pa chirped with joy. The lazy brother didn’t stir at all from his slumber.
I landed safely at the window grill, and chirped back at Ma and Pa. Ma looked a bit worried seeing me settled on the window.
The man took some steps back from the window and watched me in amazement from the center of the large room. Had never seen such a big room. I turned and signaled the happy parents that I was ok.
It really was a spacious room. There were huge sofa sets arranged in front of the TV. A beautiful dining table in one corner ready with some plates and spoons laid out.
But who are these people in the photographs? His family?
I flew inside and sat on the dining table and then hopped onto the sofa set and then out of the main entrance where I saw his name – Raj – on a nameplate. Easy!
So, it was the family of Raj in the pictures. But it is not nice to ask too many personal questions right in the first meeting – my first Pa had advised me.
Raj was amused to no end at my moves in the room. He took out his mobile phone and tried to take a video but I kept flying around with agility now. No wonder it was hard for him.
Arey baba, I will keep flying in and out, now that I have spread my wings. Don’t be so impatient capturing me in flight!
He seemed to understand my thought process.
Wait, how is this guy going to teach me to sing like a Cuckoo? Oho, it must be the music from the TV program! No, it can’t be. I distinctly recall his singing some tunes for long hours.
He realized I must be hungry. He emptied some grains from a jar in an open dish for me and stepped back to see if I eat.
The grains were so good I finished everything he had laid out for me! Had never tasted such mouthwatering grains in my short life. It seemed I overate. Inevitable! My stomach started hurting. For a while I felt miserable. He felt guilty. Did he offer something I shouldn’t have eaten?
Ma called me out from the tree.
“Dinner time, Tweaky, fly home now. Pa will be here soon”
I wasn’t hungry at all but had to fly home.
The music? May be tomorrow. And about the faces in the photographs – tomorrow?
As I flew back to the nest, he saw me all the way, waving bye.
Ma was very happy at my new friendship with that man – Raj.
“Be careful, Tweaky. Always on your guard”
“Not to worry, Ma. Wanted to say “I will sing like a Cuckoo soon”; but not today. She might think I am crazy.
.….to be continued
—————- x ————-x —————-x ————-
When I was about to be born, I didn’t look like a sparrow
at all. My mother tells me that first, I was ensconced in an oblong white
shell. Can you believe that? I couldn’t see anything, just felt my own soft
incipient limbs wrapped around my little body. I could hear my Ma distinctly,
chirping happily, imagining her, sitting smugly on my shell. Once it rained
hard; very hard and I shivered even inside the shell. She spread her wings wide
to envelop me tightly.
No no, I wasn’t alone! There were three more of my siblings
in other shells, yes, I could feel them as well, wondering how they must be
looking like. I didn’t know, but she did.
My little body grew bigger and bigger till one day the
shell became too small for me, felt claustrophobic inside!
Oh my God, Oh my God… You see I had to break the poor
fragile shell with my stubby beak. Fragments of the shell fell around me. Ha,
Ha! It was so amusing to see it crumble down.
Wow! I saw my siblings around. I could vaguely make out
they were all same, three of them, like me. It took me several days for my eyes
to get adjusted to the bright light around.
We all were comfortable in our own house called nest that
probably Ma had built, hidden in the dense foliage of a tree. It was a
half-spherical basket, with a whole lot of coarse material on the outside such
as, straw, twigs, paper, leaves, grasses, and other available material.
The inside was lined with feathers and fine grasses. Where
did Ma bring these from? None of my business, as long as she brought food for
the four of us.
We chirped incessantly all at once to draw Ma’s attention
to get us some food.
My vision was still hazy but I could feel Ma as she brought
food and shoved it just in my wide-open beak to be gulped down. I was ready for
“Tweaky, you are too impatient. Why can’t you be well
behaved like your brothers and sisters?”, She pulled me up once. I couldn’t
help making a face at her.
Oh, I forgot to tell you about this. There was another
bigger sparrow with a black band around its neck. He kept flying in and out. Ma
loved him so we loved him.
“He is your Pa, Tweaky”, But tell me why don’t I have the
lovely black band? I was too afraid to ask Mom.
A little later I could clearly figure out that our nest was
on a big Champa tree (Plumeria) opposite a house.
Actually, the house was much taller than I could see. Ma
told me that the house belonged to an aged man with a luxuriant tuft of grey
hair on his head. Among all the siblings I was a bit nosy, ha ha. I tried to
raise my head above the rest to see what was going on in the house inside that
window. Are all men same? I must find out.
My Pa – yes, the one with lovely black band around his neck
– playfully poked me with his large beak, “not nice to peep into anyone’s
house, kid”. Miffed, I had to retract myself in the huddle. But why? Why was it
As soon as my vision got better and better, I often stared
at that man, standing with a cup of tea in his hand early in the morning and
straining his ear to catch the song by the sparrows teetering on an electric
cable, just opposite his window. How I wish I could fly close to him, sit at
his window grill and entice him with my own chatter! But I realized he only
wanted to watch sparrows that sang melodiously.
What was he doing in that big house all day? Was there some
food in the house for me?
Once he saw me, making me nervous. He picked up something
that had two round openings that he held closely pressed to his eyes, with
fervid intensity. Wasn’t he peeping into my house now? Not fair. I will tell
Ma, – not to Pa; too scared of him, Oh yeah!
I made up my mind to learn to sing, from….let’s see… who
else but Ma, silly!
“I cannot teach you. You have to watch me sing and learn to
sing all by yourself”, Why, for God’s sake? I may be a slow learner but not
I wanted to make a face again but couldn’t. She was my Ma
you know? She would know what is right for me.
But how can I observe what goes on in her voice box? I
stopped talking to her for a few days. Two of my siblings somehow learnt to fly
and simply vanished. The one with a black band around his neck – just like Dad
– stayed back. I was a slow learner, don’t tell anyone ok? Oh, good, so now
there was some more room for the two of us in the nest.
Then I saw Ma crying one day. Pa never came home. She sang
even when she cried. I watched her closely and tried to speak to her, lovingly.
It was at that moment I found I could sing as well; I could sing as I spoke to
“Where is Dad? Are you waiting for him?”
“The big Eagle grabbed him and flew away, far …. away” She
“Oh, my poor Ma!”, I clung to her, “I would never leave
….End of Chirpter 1… to be continued