Categories
Fiction Narration Story

Happy Birthday!

The sun’s rays pierced through the plate-glass window of my flat, penetrating right into my eyes, rudely awakening me from my sleep. Mom used to constantly scold me for not sleeping facing the sun, years back when I was a child. Even though I used to disobey her back then, I started following every word of her advice, including this one, once I had moved away from home. My tummy rumbled as I slowly made my way out of bed. It had reason to be upset, for, it has been surviving on liquids for the past couple of days. I took a cursory glance at my watch to check the time, only to realize that it didn’t have a watch any more. It, along with my iPhone 4S now rested at a local shop, and had helped me survive the past couple of weeks. I fished my old Nokia  from underneath my pillow. It quietly announced that the time was 9.30 AM. Quite early, by my current standards. Nearly two months back, at the same time, I would be taking time off to enjoy the breathtaking view of Singapore, from my cabin in my company’s 24th floor office…

Those days were long gone. Life turned upside down overnight, thanks to a monster called recession. One night, I was partying with my friends at the Acid Bar, and the very next morning, I get the pink slip… Life does work in mysterious ways. Everyone was ‘shocked’ (at least, apparently so) by my exit from the company. I was billed as the rising star, the next in line to be the CEO. All those dreams were shattered, in a face-saving act by my boss, who decided to save his skin by putting all his blames on me. The damage was done; the black mark on my career was permanent. No other company would offer me a job, my boss had pulled his strings to ensure just that. The fighter that I was, I decided to fight back with a vengeance. In the past two months, I had knocked the doors of every consulting company that had its offices in the island-country. Their replies weren’t that disheartening though. All of them said, they would they ‘consider’ me, and that they would present my case in the forthcoming board meeting (which never happened). And whenever I called them back, they said they were still ‘considering’. Despite the failure of every ‘consideration’ – I never lost heart. I always believed in my values and in Krishna.

It seems that Lord Almighty too had left me out in the cold.

I noticed a blinking message icon on the top left of my Nokia. My inbox was full, thanks to SMS remainders from the bank, asking me to pay up the latest installment of my home loan. I never even bothered to open any of those messages – they are going to kick me out anyway. I should survive till then, somehow. While clearing the pending messages, the phone beeped. There were a couple of incoming messages. I shrugged and opened the latest text. Thank God, it wasn’t another ‘gentle reminder’. It was a text from her.

HBD. 🙂

It took me a second to decode the acronym.

And yet another, to remind me it was this day, 28 years back, that I was born.

She was the only person, apart from my mom, who religiously remembered my birthday. I never thought she would wish me on my birthday, even after we broke up last month. I was genuinely touched, and I badly wanted to reply, with a hundred :-* smileys’ to say that I still loved her with all my heart! Mom too must have tried to call me, only in vain. My mobile connection was quietly deactivated by Singtel last week. Thankfully, they still allowed incoming messages.

I could literally hear my tummy’s rumble this time. Must grab something. I did a quick search for my purse and found it exactly where I had left it: atop my shelf. I approached it with alacrity. I did remember seeing a $10 note last night. It was all what was left from the $600 I’d got from selling my iPhone and watch. It should get me something. SOMETHING. I opened the purse with expectation.

It was empty.

I checked again – I was damn sure that I did see the note inside. Hell, I literally survived on water and orange juice for the past couple of days, so that I could eat something solid today! That hope too was gone. I felt dizzy, probably from staying hungry. I quietly slumped down on the floor. The purse slid away from my hand and fell down. I could feel my head throbbing. I stared at my purse, which was flooded with $1000 notes at one time. It was months now since it saw even a $500. Suddenly, I noticed part of a red coloured paper jutting out from an inner-chamber, near my credit cards. I quickly took the purse and emptied my five hugely-overdrawn credit cards. I had the surprise of my life!

There, underneath the cards, lay a crumpled $100 note!

Snippets of memory started trickling in. I had kept that $100 note underneath my cards about six months back. My purse was so stacked with notes that there wasn’t any space to keep the $100 note I got as change from buying groceries. Left with no other option, I removed my Platinum Visa card and stuffed the note into that pouch, and had forgotten about it!

I thanked every God I knew for giving me the ultimate birthday gift!

I quickly ran, and changed into a shirt and a pair of jeans – prized possessions of mine, and rushed out of my flat. Despite having had nothing for the past couple of days, I managed to run as fast as I could to the nearest hotel – a Chinese restaurant next to my flat. My tummy craved for their delicious noodles, and I was about to eat like a king! Passers-by were staring at me, I was pushing my way through the crowd, fighting my hunger, desperate to enjoy my own birthday treat!

As I was about to into walk into the restaurant, panting, I felt a tug on my jeans. I turned to see a small girl, maybe 7-8 years old, pulling my jeans. She was a cute little child, looking at me with tears streaming down from her eyes. I leaned down, and ruffled her hair, like I normally do with kids.

“Hello darling! Why’re you crying?” I asked.

She pointed her fingers towards the hotel. Three muscular men, similarly dressed in waiters’ attire were running down the aisle pointing at the girl. One of the ran towards me, and grabbed the girl by her wrist, and started shouting at her in Mandarin. Another guy raised her hand and was going to slap her. I was alarmed. I quickly pulled the girl back from the ruffians and asked them what was wrong. Apparently, the girl, who was a beggar, had eaten from the restaurant and tried escaping without paying the bill. They were chasing the girl, who ran to me and hid behind me.

I tried reasoning with the ruffians, but they wouldn’t listen. Using my broken mandarin, I somehow convinced them that the matter could be settled, only if they would calm down.

“The girl ate noodles worth $85. We need her to pay up, or we’re going to the police.” one of them managed to speak in broken English.

I looked at the girl, who was now weeping. I saw myself in her. I would have probably done the same thing, if I hadn’t found the $100 note. And I’d probably end up in jail too, for stealing food. I didn’t want this little girl to end up in some dingy children’s home for a mistake any human in her situation would make. My tummy started rumbling louder. I decided to ignore it once again. Another day of liquids wouldn’t kill me, after all.

I paid the sole $100 note to the ruffians, who quickly went to the counter and gave me the change. I took the girl to an ice cream vendor nearby and bought her a chocolate ice cream for $15.  As she finished eating, I patted her and turned to walk back to my flat. As I was walking back, I heard a faint voice, saying “Happy Birthday”. Shocked, I turned back.

There girl had gone.

My tummy stopped rumbling.

P.S. Inspired from Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer‘s ‘Janmadinam’.

Categories
Story

Lies

A good movie is intellectually stimulating. Especially, a Mani Ratnam flick. Fresh from watching ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’, I stifled a yawn and flopped onto the bed, thinking about the Tamil refugees of Sri Lanka, on which the award-winning movie was based on.

It was about 11PM. On a normal day, I’d be sleeping like a log by this time. I closed my eyes, with the soothing notes of ARR’s ‘Vellai pookkal’ giving me company. It was a long day. 3 movies at a stretch isn’t exactly good for your eyes. They were literally pleading for some much-needed rest. So was my body. My running nose, thanks to the cold I’d caught wasn’t helping either. It was time to embrace morpheus’s arms…

But, I didn’t.

The standard edition android clock silently proclaimed the time – 3.22 A.M. Nearly four and a half hours had passed since I hit the bed and the god of sleep was yet to bless me. Now, this is queer, for, I’ve never lost sleep in the past few years. Whatever be the day, sleep would be setting in by 10.30 and I’d be flat by 11. Today, something went wrong somewhere. Hmmm.

I went by all the rules in the book to get some sleep. Yes everything, from counting non-existent sheep to reciting the many names of Lord Arjun. Virtually all of them fell flat. Within a couple of hours, I’d see daybreak. I was bored and tired, but not sleepy.

How in the world would I sleep?

I groped in the dark and picked up my phone and started doing something which was my last ditch effort at getting some sleep – browsing through my phone’s contacts and messages. Now, I’ve over a thousand contacts in my phone, thanks to Sony Ericsson’s facebook sync. I usually filter out the FB contacts and just opt for the few 100 ones in the phonebook, but for some reason, FB sync was enabled.

Now, that’s odd. I clearly remembered disabling sync. Mainly cause I keep contacts with only a few close friends and I didn’t want my phone to be cluttered with numbers and emails of random acquaintances whose number stood at a whopping 2k.

Anyway, I gestured my thumb and the long list of contacts flowed down, name by name. Most of them were acquaintances, some were old friends. Each name brought in many memories – some worth cherishing, some forgettable. I gestured faster and the contacts scrolled down at a higher rate. I was barely noticing the contact names now, I just kept on flicking my finger. It went on and on, never seeming to end.

Soon, my thumb started paining from repeated exertion. I pressed my finger obliquely on the screen and the scrolling stopped. I lazily scanned the names of the 7 odd people who populated the display. There, I saw an image which took my breath away.

It was her.

The contact image showed a tall girl wearing a pink dress, sitting by a rock. It was a different image of the same girl which haunted me, 7 years ago. I used to be mad about her. I must have written umpteen letters to her, but ended up destroying all of them. Worse, I never had the guts to speak to her, despite having got the opportunity to see her every other day. Fate split us into separate ways and I never thought I’d get to see her again. I vaguely remember sending her a friend request, but had forgotten all about it. Apparently, she had accepted my friendship.

I was on cloud 9!

Eagerly, I pressed my thumb on her photo just to have a closer look at that face which used to haunt my dreams. I had the surprise of my life when her contact details became available.

She had listed her phone number in FB!!

Memories started trickling in… I clearly remembered requesting, nay, begging our mutual friends for her number. I never got yes for an answer. Now there it was, right in my mobile, saved in my phone’s contacts. I made a mental note to thank Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s dubious privacy settings, (which made her phone number public, albeit unknowingly).

Wasting no more time, I dialled her number!

It was 4.23 AM, and she’d probably be snoring off. Not that I cared. Something told me that she’d pick up. Within ten seconds after dialling, the phone started ringing. My heart beat seemed to be in sync with the soft whirring ringback tone. If she picked up, would she get to hear my heartbeat, I wondered. As each second passed, I waited with bated breath for the sound which, for me, was sweeter than M.S. Subbulakshmi’s mellifluous cadence…

The phone rang, and rang, and rang. Exactly 47 seconds later, the whirring sound stopped. A clipped voice announced in Tamil something which was self explanatory, the customer I was trying to reach wasn’t answering.

My heart sank. I should’ve known better. Nobody but me would be awake at this time, on a Monday morning. She’s to go to work and probably her shift starts at 11, a useful piece of info shared by my friend who used to be her co-worker.

Dejected, I pushed my phone away and closed my eyes. I suddenly felt tired, my eyes felt heavy. Morpheus seemed pleased with my giant leap of faith and blessed me finally. Within ten minutes, I was fast asleep.

I woke up to the sound of the famous Sony Ericsson jingle. I drowsily fished for my phone, unlocked it and placed it by my ear.

“Hari?” an unusually-sweet female voice queried.
“Yes?” I replied, still half asleep.
“I felt so happy to see your call.”
“Uh. Huh,” I was still groggy. Part of my mind was trying to place the voice while part of me was coaxing me to get back to sleep.
“In fact, in fact, I have been
expecting this call for over seven years. ”
That sentence jolted me back to reality.
“Only if you’d called me a month back…”
My heart skipped a beat. Shaking off my sleep, I quickly asked:
“Who is this?”
“I’m sorry, I should’ve told you about it before…


“Hello?”

Bloody hell. My phone got switched off! But I didn’t need any more guesses to know that it was her. I quickly fetched the charger from my bag, and somehow managed to switch the phone on. What was she saying? Why did she say that I should have called her earlier?  I called her back. To make things worse, her phone too was switched off…

What was all that? Was it a dream? No the call was real. It was from her number alright; at least the number that FB said was hers. I tried calling that number all day. I even sent her a few texts, to no avail. Her phone remained switched off. I couldn’t focus on anything that day. What was she trying to convey to me?

Later that day, I logged into FB and checked her profile. The familiar pink clad display pic greeted me with a smile. My heart melted at that smile. I took a closer look at her photos. She wasn’t as pretty as she was, back then. But still she was beautiful, even ravishing. I scrolled down to see more of her photos. Suddenly, my heart stopped.

She was sitting along with a guy on a stage. She looked really pretty, and happy too. The guy was also beaming.

Her engagement photos.

I quietly clicked the back button and opened her timeline. “Good to see that you’re getting hitched. Congrats. Really happy for you both!”, I posted.

A blatant lie.

I slept soundly that night.

P.S. Based on a true story, reported live.

Categories
Story

Smokers Die Younger

It was exquisite.

Soft beams of light seeped in through the frosted glass, like water dripping from a corporation-tap. Reflecting on the milky-white tiles of the bathroom, the light strayed about the four congested walls in infinite loops of Brownian motion, making the bathroom fittings seem gothic in a bohemian glow. He wasn’t sure whether it was Brownian motion or not; physics was his Achilles ’ heel – precisely why the physics professor at the IIT coaching class chucked him out, four years ago. He smiled at the thought – he had come a long way since then.

“Why’re you smiling dude?”

Sujoy’s voice echoed – floating through the psychedelic notes of Floyd.

Pink Floyd is sex.

Being a virgin, he couldn’t be sure – but if his more experienced friends were to be trusted, yes it is. The songs did something to men (and women), or, why else would two (perfectly heterosexual) friends light up in their toilets?

Why else would he, of all people, decide to light up, at all?

CC Credits: Pratheesh Prakash

If there was anything about the world that he hated – it was the cigarette. He could stand alcohol – he hated the smell, but drunk dudes were fun. He didn’t mind those of his friends that smoked up, they went on to win quizzes and debates, despite acting weird at times. He even got himself to forgive his pedophile of his friend, who proudly publicized his ‘conquest’ of the teenaged cousin, amid glory – he would probably rot in hell. But the cigarette…

Heck, no.

It all started when he first caught his dad in the act. He was a toddler, back then and thought his father was doing some magic trick by ‘eating fire’. Confident of repeating his dad’s amazing feat – he tried ‘eating’ a rolled-up newspaper with the other end on fire. He didn’t get himself singed thanks to a vigilant mom who went on to counsel her child, rather unparliamentarily. At the end of a passionate ‘one to one’ – the child emerged with tears in his eyes, countless cane-marks on his thighs and a hatred for the ‘tiny burning cylinder’.

As he grew up, he learned how deadly ‘the burning cylinder’ was and realized how badly his father was addicted to it. The last thing he wanted was to lose his father to gruesome mouth/blood cancer . He even devised an ingenious way to force his father into kicking the habit. The very next day, his mom scampered onto the terrace, having heard his father breaking into a vicious coughing spree. He smugly looked on as his mom rubbed his teary-eyed father’s back;  tobacco when ingested with chilli powder gives interesting results, indeed.

From then on, his dad made it a point not to leave his Wills packets unattended.

Time sailed on, and life changed for the smartass pre-teen who now grew into a young man caught in a time-warp. Life just wasn’t happy-go-lucky any more. He flunked life’s tests, the same way he flunked despicably in exam. By the time he was 21, he had gotten himself beaten-up, was abandoned, lost his lady love and had gotten himself killed nearly-twice. Yet – he stayed himself clear of the ‘sutta’, which now even had a tribute-song of the same name to boot, all set to lure him.

At the end of the day, Pink Floyd won, where ‘Zeest  – the band’ lost.

Lip service from Sujoy didn’t hurt. There’s just one life (Sujoy was Christian and didn’t subscribe to rebirth) – why waste it depriving oneself of the many pleasures and possibilities it offers? Some pleasures may slow down life’s timer, but old-age is pain. Be a man.  Die in pleasure. Die happy. Die young.

Sujoy’s logic was undeniable.

He felt his body shiver as realization drove deep in. He had been through enough already. He had successfully repelled plenty of the worldly-vices (but fell prey to many others). Yet, life double-crossed him. Now the ball was in his court. His arms trembled – he even felt the world around him vibrate in resonance. Heck, he could even hear a buzz that grew louder in intensity with time – must be the resonance in action, he thought. The vein on his forehead twitched. Rivulets of sweat soiled his shirt. He stretched open his right arm (which was now trembling flailing incessantly). Revealing one of his classy smiles reserved for special occasions, Sujoy gingerly placed the Davidoff on our dude’s palm.

Davidoff Lights – It was slender and long. With great difficulty, he maneuvered his thumb, ring finger and little finger to push the cigarette between his index finger and the middle finger. He had half a mind to throw that despicable killing machine down and crush it with his feet. But…

“I… I gotto pee.”

The Forrest Gump moment.

“Be my guest.”

Sujoy ushered him into a ‘palatial’ restroom. Slamming the door behind him, our friend rushed inside. Opening the toilet seat, he lifted his right hand high in the air, and aimed the cigarette at the pot…

He had played the role of Chandrasekhar Azad in a school tableau – where he aimed a (fake) revolver at a group of attacking police officers. The cigarette was the sole bullet in our Azad’s revolver  – and a white ‘pot’ of cops silently returned the stare. Back then, the ten-second tableaux won him the first place, but that day, he ‘enacted’ the scene for good ten-minutes. Then, like Azad, he drove his ‘bullet’ into his head.

Into his mouth, rather.

A concerned Sujoy, forced the door open to see the newly-christened Azad gaze blankly back – donning an unlit cigarette between his lips.

Sujoy flashed his ‘classy smile’ the second time, that day.

Soon, Sujoy’s Nokia 5130 Xpressmusic acquired position beside the shaving mirror – duly playing ‘High Hopes’ from Floyd. He shoved a bucket aside and sat on a chair brought from the dining room, while his friend made himself comfortable on the toilet seat. Sujoy conjured a lighter from nowhere and flicked it. The reddish-orange flame swayed like a belly dancer on trip.

“Let’s light up together, shall we?” Sujoy winked. Our friend bent down with Sujoy, aiming his cigarette to the flame. “Carefully man, A forest fire’s the last thing I want,” Sujoy took a dig his friend’s perennially-unkempt hair. Our man barely noticed the snide comment. His eyes were transfixed at the tip of his cigarette – which now made contact with the flame. The edge of the cigarette smouldered in an eerie glow. Tobacco and nicotine burned.

A moment late to notice Sujoy withdraw his lit cigarette, our friend pulled his head back. He looked up at Sujay, who seemed to be sucking the cigarette like a kid enjoying his frooti. A couple of seconds later, he withdrew the cigarette from his mouth and blew out a long trail of smoke. Having inhaled some of the smoke, he coughed badly – he loathed the very smell of cigarette smoke – it always made him cough. He wondered how it would be when he had the real thing.

Noticing his friend eyeing him quizzically, Sujay played teacher. “Look, first inhale through your mouth, as if the cigarette were a straw,” he took a drag. After blowing a (longer) trail of smoke, he clarified: “Then, inhale through your nose – the smoke has to get to the lungs. Otherwise, you’d be ‘mouthfagging’ which is the smoker’s equivalent of masturbation. You don’t wanna do that, do you? Now blow out the smoke, like what I just did. Try!”

Now our dude nearly had a heart-attack – he was so sure he had one, cause he hadn’t seen his heart beat this fast till date. Nevertheless, he mustered all courage, and took a deep drag at the cigarette, closing his eyes, half expecting himself to collapse due to a long bout of coughs. Having trapped the ‘smoke’ inside him, he opened his eyes.

“Now, inhale,” our friend followed Sujoy’s instructions and took a deep breath. He was so sure he’d cough away for the rest of the day, just because of this single drag.

Turns out that he didn’t.

As he inhaled, he felt something happen to him – a peculiar sensation took hold of his head. It wasn’t a bad feeling. On the contrary, he felt real good – a ‘ring of pleasure’ formed around his forehead, around his eyebrows. He felt slightly dizzy and elated.

Our buddy had the first ‘high’ of his life.

“Dude, you’re a bag of surprises – I expected you to lay writhing on the floor. But, look at you right on the first drag itself! Awesome man!  ‘High’-five,” the Barney fan in Sujoy lifted his left palm, but never got the return five.

Meanwhile our friend took another drag. And another. And another. As soon as this cigarette got over, he lit up another one.  He went on to smoke six cigarettes in a row, until he felt like vomiting – he felt as if some virus had infected his entire system, starting from his throat. He stood up, only to find that he couldn’t balance himself properly – he felt so ‘high’ that he thought his head hit the ceiling, only to realize the pointlessness of that PJ he just made up and smile involuntarily.

The sick feeling was at its peak, as he dumped his sixth cigarette into the closet. He thought he’d vomit any moment – smoking was indeed a bad idea. The high felt good, but the ‘hangover’ wasn’t quite appealing. He drunk six glasses of water, and had his second breakfast for the day from Sujoy’s place. Only then did the tendency to puke pass.

As he bade good bye to Sujoy, he renewed his pact  – he wouldn’t touch another cigarette for the rest of his life. Ever.

*****************************************************************************************************

The protagonist of this story died of lung cancer, thirty six years later. He was a chain smoker, known to smoke at least three packets a day. He’s survived today  by his wife and two children. The man spent the last few years of his life in deep agony. Yet, he regularly used to sneak away for a secret puff. “I won’t touch another cigarette,ever,” he promised to his wife moments before he passed away.

The staff nurse found two packets of cigarettes and a lighter from the man’s clothes, later that day.

Categories
Narration Personal Story

The Pigeon

My blissful sleep was rudely disturbed by the ear-piercing “chirp” of the calling bell. My bedroom’s upstairs, and located right adjacent to the calling bells. Yep, you heard (or rather read) it right – ‘B-E-L-L-S’. There are a total of three calling bells at my place, two of which are ‘strategically’ placed above my bedroom-door. There’s this obnoxiously-loud bell that chirps (well, literally, if the sound(noise) emanated a cuckoo is “chirp”) at a few hundred decibels. Now, our chirping bell has its switch at the staircase and it successfully serves its purpose – to rudely shake me up from my slumber! 😐 The bell is the last arrow in mom’s quiver to get me downstairs. She’d press the switch for minutes on end, until my tympanum explodes to smithereens. Needless to say,  the arrow was spot-on.

Exasperated at having missed-out my afternoon-nap, I grouchily hobbled down to mom. It was about five thirty in the evening; my tummy grumbled and mouth watered as my biological clock sounded its alarm. Coffee time! The mental reverie of expected evening snacks brought me back to the high. Only to be thoroughly disappointed – we’d run out of milk and I was instructed to go get milk from the friendly-neighborhood grocer. Worse, mom wouldn’t pay me! If I wanted coffee, I’d have to get milk with my own money – mom rambled on about responsibility. I shrugged; Mom wins hands-down. 😐 I fished a hundred rupee note out of my jeans pocket and trudged out in pursuit of my evening snack.

I didn’t quite notice it until I opened the door. I was too preoccupied with my thoughts to bother. But then, it was so obvious, and I did notice it, albeit late:

A pigeon rested atop our Maruti! :O

Quite a sight, it was. A pigeon is not the first thing you expect to see on top of your car, especially when you’re still hung over with a two-hour nap. (Inception? I momentarily searched for my totem! 😛 ) It wasn’t one of those pretty-pigeons that you see in period movies. Mostly dark, its wings and beak were the only white parts of its body. Cliche talks about snow-white pigeons that delivered letters proclaiming love. But cliches were a far cry for our friend; she could barely fly. Dark pupils stared at me from its orange eyeballs, as it hobbled atop the car to catch a glimpse of me. The pigeon wasn’t magnificent, but it had its elegance.

Unable to suppress my awe, I gingerly moved towards the car. The pigeon had noticed my presence, and it moved away from me with quick, stuttering jumps. But I was too fast for it. I rested my body on the Maruti’s side-glass and reached out to the pigeon with both arms. The bird made no move to flutter its wings. Curiously enough, it ceased the unsteady hobble and paused the stuttering motion. It stood still and stared at my eyes, as I stared back. I gradually edged my hand forward and patted the tiny bird on its head. It didn’t move a feather, evidently hurt. It looked tired and it could certainly not fly. I reached out further and reached the pigeon with my palm, gradually lifting it. It was shuddering now, rocking its tired claws hither-thither. A part of it wanted to fly away, it was probably scared of me – for all it new, I could well be a predator. Sensing its fear, I eased the grip and moved slowly to my veranda, and rested it upon the concrete-granite platform by the side. I removed my hands from the bird. It still didn’t move a muscle. With its innocent eyes examining the red-granite floor and the plants behind it, it peered around the new environs. It walked about in tiny steps, nay, jumps. The bird seemed to trust me with its life, its body made no rapid movements. It looked calm, and there was no visible external damage to be seen. I first assumed that its wings must’ve been clipped or something, but no – the pigeon was about to fall as it missed a step near the edge of the platform – it fluttered its wings in full bloom and got itself back to position. I was both intrigued and endeared. 🙂

Taking care not to disturb the bird out of its idyll, I rushed into the kitchen and brought mom out to the veranda.Incensed that I hadn’t purchased the milk, she didn’t believe me at first, but I cajoled her out, and made her see the pigeon for herself. She was a tad too endeared than I was. The motherly affection took over; before I knew it, she was back with a few grains of rice which were carefully doled out to the birdie. But our chic was gracious enough not to accept the offering; it moved away from the grains, the tiny tummy was probably full. In the meantime, neighbours were informed and soon my verandah was a makeshift-menagerie. Dad,  who announced his arrival from work with a groan, dog tired, dumped his files to join the commotion. The pigeon was a mini-miracle that couldn’t be missed.

Soon, speculations were high in the air. How (or why) did the bird came over? Why isn’t the bird eating?  Is its tummy full? Why is it greyish-black and not white?  All questions were left unanswered. Some consensus was conjured-up on the arrival-reason though. The ‘injured-hurt’ theory (dad used some logic to put his point forward) won hands-down, beating ‘divine intervention’ (mom’s idea) and joblessness (yours truly). Neighbours were equally ecstatic about our visitor. They took turns to touch and caress the bird. The kids were super-excited – Aravind, a third grader, pulled its wings, scaring our bird into a momentary frenzy, in turn making its captor cry. It took a chocolate to pause the tears of the little ornithologist; he maintained the theory that the bird ‘bit’ him despite the lack of visual proof. The bird peered back at us, inwardly smiling at all the hullabaloo.

It was 7 PM, when the neighbours had left and I finally went out and bought the milk, an hour and a half out of schedule; not that I was complaining. I was pleasantly surprised when I returned, The bird-that-would-not-eat was now belligerently-pecking at the grains it once ignored! It was still seated atop the veranda-platform. I tiptoed close to it and watched. No sooner did I approach it, the incessant pecking halted, and the bird turned to me. So birds value their privacy! Interesting. I shrugged, delivered the groceries, and ran back to the drawing-room window to check  Li’l Ms. Pigeon out.  As expected, she was eating to her heart’s content in our absence. 🙂 I called my parents and showed them the phenomenon.

All of us were beginning to love our uninvited guest who was turning out to be a bag of surprises. 🙂

After some brainstorming, we decided to allocate a safe shelter for our new tenant. The verandah-slab, on which she was still perched, wasn’t exactly safe for an immobile bird. We reached a consensus on building a temporary shelter for our bird. Now, there’s an attic (more of an plastic-roofed terrace guarded by metallic-grills) at my place. We decided to lodge the pigeon there. Dad brushed up his engineering knowledge and conjured up a makeshift-home from an old computer monitor cover. Mom gently grabbed the bird and took it to the terrace. Suprisingly, the bird cozied up to my mom, not showing the slightest attempt of protest. I smiled.  🙂 A pitcher of water, and more rice grains were brought, and the ‘shelter’ was affixed on the sunshade within the attic. Our little pigeon had her own home, complete with a tiny door. Yes, she could go out and grab some fresh air if she so wanted.  The pigeon seemed to love its new home – it resumed pecking the tiny grains, gobbling up water from the tiny pitcher, fully aware of our presence, this time. We were all happy. The pigeon was here to stay. The three of us dispersed. Dad returned to his laptop and files, mom rushed back to her cooking and I returned to facebook.

After dinner, I thought I’d pay our buddy a visit. I simply couldn’t get enough of her! 🙂 I’ve always wanted a pet, but refusal was all I got whenever the request was made. 🙁 When I was in the eighth grade, my uncle had gifted us an Alsatian pup, and it was an offer my dad couldn’t refuse. I was overjoyed! 🙂 But the days of joy didn’t last – good ol’ Robin died a tragic death. 🙁 Since then, I’ve been craving for a pet. Perhaps the li’l pigeon was God’s gift. The more I thought about it, the more joyous I became. Even though the pigeon wasn’t exactly ‘adopted’ as the ‘resident pet’, I had already done the honors in my mind. I actually was on the lookout for a good name for my good old pigeon.

With an involuntary smile pasted on my face, I opened the door to the attic and stepped out. I didn’t switch on the light, it was bright enough – full moon day. Besides, the light might actually disturb her meal, for, the flurouscent lamp was adjacent to her shelter.

“Chinnu kutti!” – I called out to the pigeon. No, that wasn’t a name I’d fixed – ‘Chinna’ in Malayalam/tamil means ‘small’. And our PYB (Pretty Young Bird), was tiny and small. So…

**BOOM**

A muffled ‘thud’ and a scamper.

Must be one of those coconuts – our attic is dangerously close to a coconut tree, and the roof routinely-suffers from the fall of stray coconuts.

I moved towards the sunshade. Curiously enough, the ‘shelter’ was missing from the sunshade. Duh! Did dad remove it or what? Dad has this fetish of ‘arranging proper things at proper places’ and he wasn’t exactly enamored about the sunshade being our bird’s abode. He was the one who suggested it in the first place, cause he couldn’t stand bird-crap on our marble floors, but he didn’t feel it was right too. He must’ve shifted the ‘shelter’ to someplace else. I decided to find out on my own. I got back into the hall that led to the attic and switched on the lights and returned, humming a mock-James Bond tune. Investigation time!

I paused on my tracks as I stepped into the attic. Before I knew it, I’d stopped humming too. My fists loosened, my eyes dilated as my heart started beating faster.

Something terrible had happened.

The makeshift-shelter lay collapsed on the attic-floor, along with the steel pitcher. Water was splayed across the floor, along with grains of rice. Tiny black and white feathers were spread out in different parts of the floor. There was a long, oval shaped, red stain on the floor, formed by droplets of blood, fresh-smeared.

The pigeon was missing.

My heart missed a beat. Panicking was not an option, though – it was quite obvious and there’s no turning back. The ‘thud’ noise was that of an escaping animal (a cat probably). The bird was too weak to retaliate, and…

Fate, it seems, is not without  a sense of irony. 😐

I slowly trudged downstairs with trembling arms, to break the news to my parents…  What else could I do? 🙁

P.S.

True story. Down to the last detail.  🙁