Category Archives: The Bird of Passage

Chapter Five

Words of wonder, words of might,

I’ll be always in your sight,

Stars are grey and sky is white,

Wake up to the morning light!

 

She was humming the rest of her mother’s song because she couldn’t remember the words. He on the other hand sat still on the rock and listened with his eyes closed. The repetition of words could not touch the heights of memories onto which he had descended. For both of them, the song held a special place. They could hear their mother sing it when she cooked the meals, strolled in the garden, laid down on her sick bed and even when she sewed dresses for their bears. So many fights had that song resolved in minutes, for none of them could afford to make a sound as their mother sang.

“What a failure of memory! How could we forget the song!?”. She felt distraught after giving her hardest thought to the next stanza. No matter how much She tried, the words couldn’t crawl from her memory and reach her tongue. It felt as if there was a surge of words for which She couldn’t remember the sound; and when the sound came to be the words were lost in the air. Her frustration was unreachable – at least for the boy.

Unlike her, He sat with his eyes still closed and his body swaying to a mute music like the flames cheering the heart of fire. “What could He be thinking?” She asked herself. And when She couldn’t find the answer by herself, She sought it from him instead.

“Which song are you swaying to? Do you recall the mother’s song?”

The boy did not open his eyes, nor did He stop his swaying. From the complacent smile which He held on his face, He merely said, “I don’t remember it, of course! But I don’t need to either”.

She moved closer to the “swaying-pendulum-of-a-boy” and tapped his shoulder three times. But it wasn’t to stop the boy and return him from his musings. So, She stood by his side and started to enumerate all the ways that could interrupt his sway. After a successive line of petty ideas, She settled on the one which held the most promise and least activity – a splash of water! So, She collected the biggest coconut shell the island could hold and filled it with a taste of the salty waves.

With the notorious bowl of her plan between her fingers She told herself, “If I don’t count the 5 times that I fell over my back in the water, I think this has been by far the best plan!”.

She tip-toed her way near the oscillating boy and smirked to think about his face drenched in the cold, salty water. She stood behind him and raised the coconut bowl right above his head. As She waited for him to come under its target, the boy suddenly stopped and opened his eyes to look around.

Finding her behind him, He turned his head and asked “What are you doing?”

“Nothing! I was just standing and looking at the ocean” She said as She tactfully put the coconut shell by her foot. Her conscious smile made him suspicious, yet He chose to let it be for another time and pulled her by the hand to sit on the rock. She hesitatingly sat down beside him, looking at him eagerly.

“Do you want to hear mother’s song?” He didn’t wait for her nod and said, “I’ll show you how you can hear it in your memory. Just follow my steps”.

This time He waited for her nod and She smiled to show her approval.

“Great! Do you remember listening to mother’s song at her birthday? Do you recall how we sat together on the sofa as she sang to the party? I need you to close your eyes and imagine us sitting right there. It wouldn’t be difficult since both of us hold that memory the dearest! Just try! Close you eyes and hold your knees like I do and then just recall!”

She scoffed his idea in her head yet played along thinking lest her laughing might hurt him. So, She sat eyes closed on the rock and looked into the darkness ahead of her eyes. To her surprise, soon the memory of the mind trickled its way onto the darkness ahead of her. A bright light first, then a hazy figure of a woman – her mother as she recalled, standing in her white party dress. She could not see the other figures but her mother stood in the front – strong and beautifully! As She looked on, She heard the whispers in her memory turn into silence. And from the silence arose a feeble resonance. Coming from far deeper in the darkness and echoing in her mind. HER MOTHER’S SONG! She pushed her way through the binds of eyes and shushed her confused mind’s noise.

The more She left her self, the more she caught the resonance! As her mind lost its shackles, her mother’s voice started to ring like music in her ears. What a splendid song it was! A music that came from her heart to her soul and a song that rang with the chords of memory!

Splash!

With a sudden flush, the darkness was washed away from its portrait. As She opened her wet eyes and put away her hair, She saw the boy laughing wildly over the sand. It seemed that He had found the water filled coconut shell.

“You can’t out smart me! I don’t see why you even try M.” He said as He wiped his tears of joy.

But She remained still on the rock. Her agitated face opened her thoughts – “Was it a dream? Had I fallen asleep?….I cant feel my hands and legs. Did I hear mother’s song?”.

She could barely comprehend him as He collected the shells around her feet and said, “What are you thinking? You look so pale as if you saw mother. Oh well! Good for you I’ve run out of water. So, don’t mess with me again!”

Words of wonder, words of might,

I’ll be always in your sight,

Stars are grey and sky is white,

Wake up to the morning light!

 

He trotted off in happiness singing their mother’s song. Though, She sat firm and wet on the rock, only to close her eyes and anxiously look for her mother in the emptiness of the mind.

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Chapter Four

I don’t know what to do! M. has not been playing in the sand today and He doesn’t even look at me. What would have mother done? Would she have hugged him to sleep or stayed by his side? As I picture her here with us, I see that she would have cried for M. But what am I thinking? She can do much more than that! So, what if crying is the best thing that life has taught her? I am sure she would have done something more creative. What could it be?

Such was the turmoil in her mind as she looked at M. lying still over his long green leaves, barely moving and feebly breathing. She sat down right beside him but fearing that He might see her troubled, she slipped herself behind his back. No thing about the condition of the sleeping child could be seen from the place where she sat. She could not hold his hand or check his temperature or even look at his face as it flushed with red at the onset of the granulated sea winds. “What a waste!” She thought, “I do not know what I must do nor do I know how I must pass this time. If only M. could speak”. But the sick boy, by now red as a cherry and frail as a cotton bud, did not move a muscle. “How can He ever know what I am going through. It’s not him whose to sit still looking on at thin traces of life”.

“Un….Deux…..Trois…..” – Practicing the French alphabet on the sand was indeed very difficult. But with M. lying in the front it became an even more cumbersome task. She had to do something else. As the time passed the violent tussle between the still world around her and the noise of the thumping ocean took her away from her un-physical friends and stopped her eyes at the stiller body of the boy. How could he be lying motionless for so long? “I thought He would never tire away. But it seems that the sickness of the soul soon takes over from the weakness of the body”. Then, could he be dead now? Maybe, maybe not! And in case He DID happen to die, would I get to keep both the teddy bears? And what about the flowers mother got to them every week? Would she get to keep them too? It was an alluring thought. But, what could she possibly do with both of the bears? She detested the brown colour. And yet she would have to look after the brown teddy if HE DIED! No! He has to wake up and take responsibility of his teddy bear. She could not let him run away from the people who waited for him.

A giggle – or was it? Did he crack a laugh? Can he do that at such poor health?

Suddenly the boy moved. His red face was slightly brighter now, or maybe it was the sun which had glazed her eyesight. But, his round brown eyes shone with a tear of mist that made it way round his cheek as he giggled and turned his face towards her. She did not seem to understand him one bit. Can sickness make somebody crazy? She contemplated on that last thought a little longer. Uncle George did look crazy as he caught the “sickness of argument” from the “House of the Bounderbys”. And, Aunt Christi literally walked with heels over head after her night at the Mansion Party – “She sure did look mad” smilingly She whispered. And here was another Gramplean Heir knocking his wits off! She couldn’t help asking about his funny matter of delight.

“You nearly scared me with your stunt there M. And now you dare to laugh it off! Give me one good reason why it is so funny”

He almost choked in his breathe and huffingly said, “Didn’t you see that? Mr. Crab over there has stranded himself in the midst of the ocean!”

“So? What makes that funny?”

“I think it is a funny joke. The ocean did not need to swipe poor Mr. Crab off his feet. Look at him! For all he knows the world around him is merely a painted canvas. Would his being at sea make any difference to him when he never knew the shore. For all I know Mr. Crab might be singing “Heave-Ho! Off we go…..!!! aloud to the fishes. You can’t possibly threaten someone to their life if they’re already dead M.”

“This sounds funny coming from a person who was dead himself a while ago. How I delighted to think I might get all the flowers mother would bring”, she said with a pretentious sigh.

“I can’t be dead M. I am with you even if you are not with me.”

He turned over and She watched him resume his “death sleep”. While the granulated winds now rushed past her ears and brought the red of her younger’s face to her unsuspecting cheeks. Was it the silence of the warring elements she could not tell, but in that very quiet she found death and life together – for once!

Chapter Three

Dear Mom (and Dad)

We are happy in our new home on the sandy island with the large sun. It is a warmer place than our Streetfield mansion but huger in size. M. just keeps on playing all day with his coconut shells, tree leaves and any other knick-knacks that he can dig up from the sand. Yesterday, he ran up to me with a glass bottle. So, we decided that we would write a letter to you (and dad, if he’s around) and put it in the bottle. We would send the bottle through the ocean.

I am writing this letter because M. has gone off to play again. And also, because he does not want you to know that he is healthy and hearty here too. He wants to keep his running away a secret from everyone! (So, please don’t tell him that I told you)

He plays the whole day here and makes strange things from waste. I wonder he doesn’t get tired at all. But he says he feels happy to be the architect-doctor-protector- and teacher cum friend of the plants here. I just stay with him to ensure that he doesn’t hurt himself. I don’t play with him Mom. I revise my alphabets and chapters with schedule throughout the day.

Did dad return home? Did he bring us any gifts? Could you tell him when he comes that our teddy bears were torn on our way here and we miss them too much? Maybe he can send us two new teddy bears when he crosses the ocean around our island. M. says he wants a brown one this time. I think I still want a yellow one. I’ll let you know by my next letter if I change my mind.

M. has nothing to say in particular. He just groans when I ask him to write to you. But maybe that is because he is busy decorating the glass bottle. He tore the blue shirt which you had gifted to him on his 11th birthday. Mom. I have kept the piece of his torn shirt with me to show as an evidence of his mischief. He had told me that he would have liked the shirt more if it was brown. (I think he’s in one of his “color days” that’s why he’s asking for everything to be brown. But I’ll tell you in my next letter if he picks another colour someday).

I am closing this letter now, M. wants to throw the bottle before the day ends.

Love,

M. and M.

 

P.S. Mom, your peacock brooch is hidden in my closet. I didn’t steal it. I found it on the floor the other day and took it school for showing it to Martha. I am sorry I borrowed it for long.

P.P.S. I am not fighting with M. anymore.

 

Chapter Two

It had been sunny since the time She could remember opening her eyes to the day. “Is it summer during this time of the year on this island?” She couldn’t help asking herself. As always, He rushed right past her eyes and derailed her train of thought. But the lost question wasn’t as much an occupying subject as the activity in which the boy was involved. So, She ran after him. They stopped at their usual seating place and he crouched on the ground.

He had collected some of the green leaves from the trees and was busy creating a sewn mat from them. She could see He had torn his blue shirt from the corner. It looked like the poor cloth had been victim to one of the boy’s climbing challenges. It looked like a tedious task and She was already getting annoyed from its futility. Enough was enough, She had to interfere.

“Isn’t it too warm for you to be outside?” She implored him. He pretended not to listen.

She pursued relentlessly, “You see, no matter whether you believed it or not, I am elder to you. So, I think you must answer when I speak to you. What do you think you are doing out in the sun?”. He sighed with all the air his tiny chest could hold and gave a look of dejection to his dumbstruck companion. And as if to concentrate the suffering more, He began to enact a series of situations – which as He later said “described his noble idea and the pursuit done for achieving it”.

Leaves – Climb – Trees – Mat – Island – Dancing? Excepting the last situation, She was pretty sure she had made the correct sense of the other charades that He clumsily carried out. And hence She prompted indifferently.

“So….You are making a mat for flying out of this island?” She sat down on the sand with her legs crossed because She could guess that a protestation was in way – and also because she had nothing else to do. “Another one of his impractical designs!” She thought to herself and evoked her patience for what followed next. But opposite to what the neighbour expected, the boy stood stunned and even more dejected. His staring brown eyes melted her confidence into the salty ocean waves.

“How can you even think that! And then you say you’re elder to me! What a waste of brains. How can anybody fly on a mat? We would crash on the birds or even fall off it if it goes too fast. What a childish thing to say, elder sister” and He smirked with a brilliance that pushed her to amazement.

“Here, let me show you. You know I saw that the little saplings under the huge trees were getting crumpled under the fruits that fell off them. So, I devised a way in which both the bigger and smaller trees can live together. I borrowed a few leaves from the bigger tree (And he sent them with thanks – I should add) and made a roof mat which I will stand over the saplings. So, when the fruit falls, it would slide right down”.

“So, basically you protected the saplings from getting crushed by the fruits from the big trees, through the leaves that you got from the big trees themselves. Don’t you think the big tree is paying too much in exchange for keeping from crushing others?” She argued.

He started and picked up his roof mat. “What’s it going to do with the leaves anyway!” He pointed at the big tree which stood far off their seating place. “Look! How those numerous leaves just hang on those branches lazily. They’re made to do all that they can do. What else can be their purpose?”

Ringing those last words in her ears, He ran off with his roof mat to look for wood.

The waves touched upon her feet. The sand glowed and slipped from her clenched fist. The sky, blue and empty, slept motionless over her head. Were they all doing what they could? Yes indeed!

But what could She do? Was She doing what She could do?

Nervously but timidly, She nodded to herself. She WAS feeling the tickles of the salty water, rolling in the warm embrace of the glowing sand and waiting for the sky to turn over in sleep to see his moon lit face. She WAS doing something after all, if only in her mind.

As a huge thud shook her away from the world ahead of her, She whispered, with an aching heart “Everybody is doing something. If only that boy could do something better than devising new ways of trouble too.”

Chapter One

It had been four days. She was sure it had been four days, He might have known too had only he cared to know. Four days without the presence of one’s parents never hurt any child, He consoled himself, and this place is full of so many things that I could do.
She knew what he must be thinking. Looking at him run around the dry beach of the newly mapped island assured Her He didn’t care to realise He was stranded.
None of them missed their parents. Not that they never had seen any, but Their father was mostly off at sea and Their mother was too busy thinking about him. So all that they grew with was Themselves and the pair of similar looking soft bears that Their father gifted to them as they entered Their first room for the first time. Yet, She knew they must need Their parents. But WHO can make the boy in the blue shirt and short brown knickers, which were smeared in sand, to understand that there was more to today than TO-DAY…. So She let him loose…
To hobble about and pretend to scare the trees with a “Skadoosh!”.

Don’t think I don’t know what you’re upto, He said while he made something like small bows from coconut shells, I know You’re wanting to go back home. She ignored what was the blasphemous truth to Him. You see you can’t see how much fun this is- being at s place where no one points you wrong or directs your steps, Now his bows were of the perfect shape to be cherished. You can’t run away from things which are meant to be, She mumbled. ” Who said I’m running, I’m just telling YOU us being here is meant to be and that’s where we should stay”.
Something pushed. She couldn’t say but Her lips were no longer in her strict command so she said “You know us here, we don’t have any significance, its a huge world for us to live in such a people less place”.

Well for the next 10 seconds the pea brains, for the first time in Their life of 12 years thought the same thing- How BIG is the world, really???
I think dad has seen it all, He broke the ice, he never stays home anyway. And She started on the Math… Their dad was 65 years old and he had already traveled the world. Was the world really as small that one could cover it in 65years? Well if that’s true then they have seen quite much of it already. But all they saw was their yellow building called school, three white buildings called Home and one green area called garden and now This… Whatever this place was.
But while She thought all that, He was already taken to a new tree he hadn’t scared yet…
And for all He cared to say- You know the world maybe huge but we are huge-r 😀 because we can scare down trees!!!

She only smiled.

Preface

 

Everyone said it was a dewy night…everyone told tales about the night They were born…some even said it was a day…and I just hold on to the fact that it was a night welcoming the day…

Both of Them were born from the same mother…yet they were poles apart…She cried her first just a minute before He did and yet everyone maintained the thought that He was the elder of the both…And I had my own reasons to believe likewise 🙂 Where His silence began Her mischiefs was rooted…Where He just moved his lip to the word She laughed with her heart… And where He forbade LIFE She learned to Live…
This is Their story…