Tenawagi Wari (The Parrot’s Story)
[The relationship between human beings and birds is prehistoric. Both are interdependent. The story questions the rational attributes of human beings while it cherishes the faithful nature of the animal kingdom to be much more dependable.]
A long time back, there lived an old man and his old wife. The old couple did not have any children so they kept a pet parrot treating it as if it were their own child. As the days passed by, the parrot grew into a full-fledged adult parrot. One day, a flock of parrots came to the place where the old couple lived. Seeing the domesticated old couple’s parrot they said – “Dear friend, do you like staying with the humans and not being able to fly freely, would you not like to fly independently across forests like us, eating delicious fruits and drinking the hills’ stream water?” The old couple’s parrot replied – “Dear friends, I do want all that, but it is wrong to leave my guardians without hearing their word, if they agree to my going I will come with you all. Do come to see me tomorrow at this very time.” The flock of parrots flew away after staying there for a while. The parrot went up to the old couple and said, “My dear guardians, I want to fly with my friends across forests and eat the delicious fruits of the forests. I will bring back some for you too.” The old couple agreed to the parrot’s request. The old man said to the parrot, “Fine, then my child, go early and come back early”.
The next morning dawned and the parrots came to the old couple’s place at the same time as the day before and asked to the parrot, “Dear friend, did your guardians agree?” The parrot replied, “Yes, yes.” In this way the parrot mingled together with the flock and flew away. They flew and roamed across far away forests and jungles. After roaming and eating lots of fruits the parrot brought back a fruit for the old guardians and gave it to them. After eating the fruit, the old couple said, “Goodness! Our parrot’s fruit is so tasty, go again tomorrow.” In this way the parrot used to go everyday and the old couple were very happy too. Waiting for their pet parrot turned out to be their job. One day, the flock of parrots suggested that they go to a place where more delicious fruits were available to which the parrot said yes. They told the parrot that the fruits of that place were tasty and they as well carried the power to make old people young again. The parrot had a feeling that he will be late that day but the thought of making the old couple young again carried him forward to the new place. When they reached that place they said, “We shall eat the other fruits, the magical fruit shall be left for the old couple.” The parrot, like the others, ate a different fruit and got a fresh magical fruit for his guardians. The parrot flew home with the other parrots thinking happily that his guardians will be young again; at the same time he remembered what the other parrots had told him – “The moment old people eat this fruit they turn young again, but it should not fall on the ground, if so it loses its magical power.” But suddenly, the fruit fell down! The parrot cried, “Gosh! It fell down. What do I do?”
On the other hand, the old couple was happily waiting for their parrot’s return but the parrot came back broken hearted. They enquired about their fruit for the day but the parrot narrated the entire incident very sadly. Although they were unhappy about what had happened, they told the parrot not to worry and asked him to get the magical fruit the next day. The thought of gaining back their youth made them happy again. The next day dawned and the parrot went away with his flock as usual. He asked the other parrots to fly to the place they went the previous day but they refused saying that they wanted to go to a nearby forest. The parrot had no other choice but to comply.
Happy that they were going to be young again, the old couple bathed and cleaned themselves properly waiting expectantly for their parrot. They were very happy to see their parrot return and asked if he got the magical fruit. But the parrot told them that his friends did not want to go to that forest and asked to wait for a few days. The old couple was upset again but they did not show it to their parrot. In this way, many days had passed by. The old couple kept on asking about the magical fruit. So one day, the parrot asked his friends to fly to the forest where the magical fruit was available. One of the elder parrots told him that there was a place they had not gone yet, and in this very place there was another magical fruit which the parrots or any other bird or animal could eat and become youthful again. So, the parrots flew to that forest and ate to their heart’s content. The parrot got one fresh fruit for his guardians but the fruit fell again on the way back home. Sadly, he went to the house.
The old couple was tired of waiting for their parrot. On hearing that the fruit had fallen on the ground again, they were angry and upset but the old man said that hopefully they will get to eat the fruit some other time. But the old woman could not control her anger anymore and hit the parrot with the ladle she was holding scolding him for being dishonest, deceitful and for disrespecting both her and the old husband. The parrot died on the spot and they buried it in the front edge of their court yard. In the very same spot, a plant started to grow. The old couple decided to keep the plant and over time it became a beautiful, full grown tree. The tree bore just one fruit; it was very beautiful and awe inspiring to look at. One day, the old man told the old woman to pluck the fruit without letting it fall on the ground. The old woman did as told and the old man took a bite first after which he became youthful once again. He said, “Hanubi, I’m youthful once again.” On hearing this, the old woman took a bite and she too became youthful. They were happy beyond words and remembered their parrot. The old woman regretted killing the parrot and lamented over what had happened. The old man thought in retrospection, “Oh! Human beings, because of their narrow mindedness, have killed an innocent bird.”