Farewell, Little Friend
NADIA KABIR BARB
Peace my heart...
Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way. (Rabindranath Tagore)
The box in the patio was now starting to make me feel immensely uncomfortable. Normally boxes don't have that effect on me but in this instance it was the contents that were bothering me. Inside the innocuous looking brown cardboard box was the motionless body of a little bird that had been rescued by my eldest daughter only a day ago. I felt a pang of guilt as I had been less than pleased with the latest addition to our household. The reason simply being that during the week when the children were at school, the responsibility of looking after the little fledgling would fall upon the remaining members of the family -- yes, that would be me. It seemed that the poor little bird had fallen out of its nest and hurt its wing quite badly. My daughter and her friends found it lying in the garden and decided to try and nurse it back to health. All these events culminated in all the girls trooping into the kitchen coercing me to let the bird stay with us as the others had pets in their houses. Then came the task of trying to find a suitable place for the bird to recuperate. After searching for different containers to house it in, my daughter emerged with the brown cardboard box. The box with the little bird was then taken to our upstairs balcony to avoid it being harmed by cats during the night. It was rather sweet watching my three children fussing over the bird trying to alleviate its discomfort. The children even tried to feed it some water from a children's medicine syringe. I just prayed that the bird would survive till the morning.
It was a pleasant surprise to find all three of my children wide awake and eager to check up on their new found pet first thing the next morning. We even had a quick visit from one of the saviours of the bird while taking her dog for a walk. I saw the kids waving to her, informing her that everything was fine and we could hear our bird chirping away in the background almost as if to confirm the statement. All seemed well until my daughter came running into the bedroom totally distraught and saying, in between sobs, something about the little bird not being able to breathe. My husband and my mother ran onto the balcony while I tried to calm the children. A few minutes later our poor little bird in the brown box drew its last breath and died. My eldest was inconsolable -- having to witness any creature in its last throes of death is not easy for anyone let alone a child. When the children had finally composed themselves and been safely deposited at school, my mother, who had been witness to all this said that it was strange how the bird appeared to make itself comfortable, stretch its legs and then let out one long sigh and then just stop breathing. Almost human in its mannerism.
Later when we talked to the children about the death of the bird, they speculated as to how must it have felt being surrounded by these huge unfamiliar creatures? Did it wonder why it was alone and not amongst its own kind? Who can say what goes through the mind of another sentient being just before the end of its life. I truly believe that in death, we are no different from any other living being. Sadly, this was not the first time we had entered into a pet rescue mission and lost our patient. In the previous case, our wounded bird had been a pigeon. However having nursed it back to health, we were shocked to find it had been attacked during the night by either a cat or even possibly a fox. That time it was not only the kids that had been in floods of tears. I found myself uncharacteristically affected by the loss of the pigeon (and I don't even like pigeons). And here we were once again confronted by a similar situation. Once again we just had not been able to save the little bird. From the moment the bird was brought home, we, the adults knew that that there was not much chance of its survival. All we could do was to allow the children to make it as comfortable as possible and let them feel the satisfaction of doing a good deed. For us it had been a mission of mercy but the reaction of the children brought home to us that what had been an inevitability for us was for them a tragedy.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005