Tag Archives: birds

Listen to that ‘song’, what do you think it is about?

25 Sep

Who doesn’t love the sight of birds? What is an early morning or late evening without their happy chirps and twitters to start & end the day with? Our heart leaps in joy each time we catch a glimpse of migratory birds soaring above our heads or a flock of parakeets fly by with their unmistakable, shriek calls. It makes us happy, because we know these birds are happy too, happy to be flying, happy to with many others of their own kind.  They’ve got neither bounds nor limitations. They are free to go & fly to anywhere, they need no VISAs. The vast planet is their home, unlike we ‘humans’ who have divided the land mass into bits, given them some names and then claimed them as mine & yours. Their freedom is so much more than what we are entitled to. You can’t even stay on a foreign land, a day more than for what you have been granted permission for.  Yet, with such limited freedom, compared to what the other inhabitants on this planet enjoy, ‘freedom’ matters & means a lot to us. Confinement is considered as a ‘punishment’ in our hypocritical world of ‘humans’, a punishment for a wrong doing or for an act of crime. And even this, receives a lot of flak from the ‘human rights activists’ who term it as cruel and what not.

The other day i happened to pass by a pet store, which I’d rather term as a ‘torture chamber for animals & birds’, for the other name is way too misleading.  In that dingy, stinky place, there were several glamorous looking cages that housed many an exotic birds that were chirping in panic & distress. Chirping for help, to be released, to be able to take to blue skies once again, to snuggle & sleep with its family at dusk on the cosy branches at the tree top…

In the human world, evil deeds & crimes like murder for instance, are awarded with a lifetime’s imprisonment. What crime or wrong have our little feathered friends’ committed then, to deserve a lifetime’s confinement like this? That they are beautiful, peaceful, have done no harm to anyone, they have sweet voices and peppy chirps? Is that what they are being punished for? I see a tragic humor in instances when i see people decorate their bird cages with colorful ribbons, bands and stars, etc . Does it mean anything to the bird inside, would it feel proud & happy, that it has such cool looking ribbons tied to its cage? What is it to the bird? A highly decorated prison? That’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t matter if the prison has been made of gold with diamonds studded into its bars. A prison is still a prison, and it’s still a punishment for anyone behind it. When people say that their caged birds sing, i ask them, do they really ‘sing’? or are they crying? What songs can your caged birds, with their wings clipped, probably be singing? Ever paused to think about it? They are all singing sad songs in there, song of loneliness, of being imprisoned for life, calling out to their other friends who are free and flying, wanting to join them. Do you think waking up to these songs everyday fills your atmosphere with positive vibes? Get a reality check as early as it can get. If your birds like you so much that they actually are singing out songs to keep you entertained, then please carry out this test, which will help you know what they truly like or love, for that matter. Open the doors of the cage, and wait. This, i assure you, would be the shortest wait of your lifetime. Do you think they’d stay in there even for a few minutes on realizing they’ve been given a chance at freedom? That’s what they want & that’s what they truly love, ‘freedom’, just as much as you love & want yours. For God’s sake, birds were never created to entertain us, to sing out songs for ‘us’! How would you like if an alien from another planet found you beautiful & your voice very melodious, smuggled you out of your home one night, took you back with him and kept you in a well decorated cage made of all platinum? And each time you cried to be let out, cried for freedom; the alien would enjoy it as a beautiful song from you, worth hearing to again and again and again. That is what you’d be doing these winged jewels, if you keep them captive. What sort a mind would then seek pleasure in keeping caged birds?  Only the selfish & unevolved minds.

How different are these birds from us? Aren’t they social, just like us? In fact they enjoy greater freedom than us, ‘cos they can fly off to countries, stay there for as long as they wish and they need no authorities to grant them ‘passports’ for their journeys. ‘Freedom’ means a lot more to them and is a lot ‘stronger’ term for them, than what it is for us who can only enjoy limited freedom. It means everything to them. Don’t they have families and don’t they painstakingly build nests to which they fly back to, each dusk? Don’t they want to make babies & take care of them? How different are they from us and how can we hypocrites set dual standards then, one for our own kind and one for anything that is defenseless, voiceless or cannot speak up or fight for its rights? Why do we have the tendency to take for granted, anything that isn’t human? They may not be humans, but they still have lives that they wish to live the way they want to & are capable of feeling the same emotions that we do. Compassion towards all creatures, is preached in every religion & here, legend has it that even Sita (Lord Rama’s wife from the epic ‘Ramayan’) was not spared for keeping a parrot caged for many years. She too was made to face a painful separation of many years, from her loving husband Ram, as a consequence of keeping this bird in solitary confinement. Legends apart, it’s time we humans practiced ‘Compassion’ as our one universal religion, by which our planet would highly benefit from.

No animal wishes imprisonment, no animal or bird looks forward to die in imprisonment or die. They all fear the same things that we do. Prisons are a human invention & should be best used for humans only- the actual evil doers of the planet, not for any other life, incapable of anything even remotely evil.  Even the so called ‘cruel’ lion, hunts only when he’s hungry, never for game.

A word of caution for those of you considering freeing your caged birds due to a change in heart or whatever may be the reason, please do your home work carefully before doing so. Releasing birds that are not native to your place will only end up making your bird quick snack to other predatory birds. For example, releasing a budgie (which is native to Australia) in India, would kill it in the first few hours of setting it free, because they have lost the art of surviving in wild, since most are bred in captivity. Even those smuggled from their original places can’t make it here, as this is a complete alien place for them. However, rehabilitating & releasing a rose ringed parakeet in India is fine, as it belongs here. Exotic bird trade is a vicious cycle out there and only when the demand ends, so would the supply. Hope it won’t be too late by the time this realization dawns upon all men & hope our future generations, don’t get to see our animals and birds only in books or recorded documentaries. In order to change this sorry state of affairs, we need to bring about a positive change and that change should start from our homes. Let’s pledge never to keep any life caged and educate our near and dear ones about the same, for it is but a sin to take away from anyone, something that is not yours to take- be it ‘freedom’ or be it ‘life’.

To freedom! May all birds fly free and sing songs of bliss & happiness, as they fly!

Wings are for flying…

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My journey

6 Sep
I woke up when I heard my other friends crowing. Ah, it was morning, another new day. I got up from my place and unruffled my feathers. I spent a long time preening & polishing my feathers clean. You can call me Narcissistic but, I could not help it. I simply could not bear to see my white feathers with even a small speck of dirt over them. I would spend several hours admiring my snow white, fluffy feathers.
After I was done with my cleaning, I looked around for food. I was hungry & starved. The others around me were equally hungry too. The sun rose higher up into the sky and we are directly in the way of his scorching heat.  Since our enclosure was made of iron, the metal got heated up due to the sun’s direct unfailing rays. All of us huddled together hoping to avoid some direct angry rays. But sadly, the ones in the front of the row, had little or no escape from it.
Though I despised the idea of being so close to another one of my kind, the reason being my squeaky clean feathers would get soiled with too much proximity with other, i had no choice. If I didn’t, the sun would scorched me alive. The very thought of it scared me. I quickly found a place next to my brother and settled with him. I always felt so secure with him. Our hunger only added  more weight to our discomfort. Tired, hungry and with throats parched we all prayed for some wet clouds to wrap the angry sun. Our prayers were unanswered. Maybe, we dint pray hard enough, I’d prefer to believe.
It was not until late afternoon, did our caretaker finally showed us some food. Hungry as we all were, it was a stampede to the food tray. I did not want to fight the crowd, cos my feathers were too precious for me. I did not mind missing a day’s food if that was what it took to keep my feathers snowy white. I patiently watched as everyone of them ate & for the feeding frenzy to calm down. When I felt it had, I decided to make my way to the tray. How I wish each one of us had separate feeding bowls! I agreed that it was too much to ask for as there were more than five hundreds of us. Providing each one with a tray would be an expensive affair for my caretaker. I was very fond of my caretaker, whom I heard others call him as Maanja. He was the one who provided food to us everyday. I was only three months old into this planet and i was quite happy with the way my life was going. Eating, feeding & preening topped my list of activities in a given day.
One morning, I was rudely jerked out of my sleep. It was too early, I could say, because the sun was only barely rising up the horizon and my brother & friends had not crowed. We fowls have an instinctive way of knowing when it’s morning. The lights in our enclosure was suddenly turned on. It hurt our eyes as we tried to see & figure out what was going on. There was a truck that was standing next to our enclosure. My caretaker Maanja was there talking to its driver. I was always so happy on seeing him. Maanja meant food. Maanja meant, our starvation was gone.  We’d always wait eagerly for him to arrive and replenish our empty food tray. We always wished him good for the food that he gave us.
And then suddenly, Maanja opened the door of our enclosure and began picking each one of us and started flinging them into the waiting truck. The truck driver caught the ones he flung and stuffed them into number of smaller cages. I was taken aback. How can my Maanja, yes, the same Maanja who fed us everyday, handle us so callously? He picked each one by their wings and threw them into the truck as if we were vegetables, maybe cabbages. He threw us as if we had no life, as if no bones cracked inside us, when landed with a thud into the truck; as if we had no feathers that would painfully come off , when he caught us by our wings and hurled us into the dirty truck, as if the skin that would peel off our fragile legs when went reeling on the truck floor dint hurt us & take our breaths away with its pain. I could not believe that it was my Maanja who caused pain to friends. I snuggled to my brother in the far corner of my enclosure so that Maanja’s hands would not be able to reach to us. I was wrong. I was wishfully thinking. As I put up a fight to avoid getting caught by Maanja, it was my brother who got caught first, since, he was the more gentle one of the two of us. I was horrified as Maanja caught my brother by his wings and threw into the truck. My brother landed on one of those rusty cages that were in the truck and broke his wing & a leg. It began bleeding. I could not bring myself to believe what I just saw. I saw my brother, withering in pain. He could not stand up on his feet due to the pain that was caused by a fractured wing bone & a broken leg. As I continued watching dumbfounded, the truck driver, picked my brother by his wings and put him in a cage where there was barely any space for five of us. In this cage, there were already nine of them and he pushed my brother into that cage. I could see my brother in pain, he was choking in pain. His broken wing was badly folded and the tight cage door over him, gave him no chance to make himself comfortable and to rearrange his wing. His eyes clearly showed the pain he felt. He was having difficulty in breathing too. My heart ached. It was as if a poisoned dagger was being repeatedly pierced through it, each time I saw my brother that way.
Maanja now reached for me. This time I did not fight. I did not feel like fighting, like escaping. I had no reason to be fighting for. I surrendered to his painful clasp around me. His tight hold around me made me feel as if my heart would burst out of my chest and fall down on the sandy ground below. I wonder, why dint hold me by my wings too. He then flung me to the truck driver who thankfully caught me, but caught me by my wings. That hurt so bad, I wanted to scream, i wanted to claw out that man’s eyes from the sockets that held them.
He then crushed me into those over crowded cages. I could not even turn my head around. My neck hurt badly as it was positioned in a very uncomfortable way. I wanted to move but I could not. I felt sorry for my friends over whom I was, because I knew, too surely that, they were suffocated. I wondered how long I had to endure this discomfort. I moved my eyeballs around to find my brother’s cage. I saw him, his eyes were half closed, his head hung out from one of the railings of the cage. I dint know what happened to him. I tried cooing to him, but my coos were lost in all those strange sounds around me. Everybody were giving out distressed calls. My call was not special in any way, so that it could stand out from the rest of the voices and sounds. My brother could not hear me…
The truck began moving and I dint know where we began our journey to. I looked at my Maanja for one last time in my life, confused and with a hundred questions in my eyes, none of which he seemed to understand.
I hoped our destination would release us from all this pain and discomfort, that me and my brother would be together again. I kept looking at my brother’s face. I wanted to go to him, snuggle up to him, make him feel comfortable and do what I could to ease his pain. But, I could not, all I could do was watch over him… I watched him as if my gaze had a power to heal. I could never look away from him. I yearned, I longed to be by him…
And then, there a sudden jerk to the truck. And that jerk was so powerful that it shoved several cages aside. When I gathered myself to lock eyes on my brother again, his cage was gone. I could not see where it went. I tried moving my eyeballs to all corners (as i could not move my head) to see if he was there. When my rolled my eyes downwards, I saw something that made me want to die that very instant! I saw that my brother’s cage that was kept on top of another cage had crashed down to the floor of the truck due to the sudden jerk and it had turned turtle. I instantly knew what that meant. My brother’s head that had hung out of the cage was crushed. The weight of other birds around him would have snapped many bones in his neck! That was the last night my brother lived before his life was cut short in the most painful way.
I was wrong about this and how?,  I was about to realize it soon. Realize, that there were more painful stuffs that could happen . I did not want to live another day after what I saw. Memories of our times together haunted me. The warmth that I felt under his wings, that was now broken, were some of the best times of my life. When the truck finally stopped, the driver began moving all the cages to the ground. He was no gentle this time either. He began throwing the rusty cages that held us captive, on to the ground, which acted little as a shock absorber. One by one he began flinging the cages on top of another. I did not want to see my brother’s cage. When I knew the driver was now holding my brother’s cage, I cooed, hoping against my hope to hear my brother’s response. If he did not respond to me, it could only mean one thing. That he was dead.And he didn’t.
My grief felt like it would suffocate me. Nothing around me made me feel better. In fact it was like a scene straight of hell. All our cages were now rearranged by a stranger who had a small, strange, filthy shop with a wooden stump in it. I wondered what he sold there. My cage was now on the third floor, meaning, there were 2 more cages stuffed with my friends below me. My neck was was now paining so badly that I lost all sense of its existence. My eyes watered as the sun rays were directly on me. I could not run for cover nor shift my head to avoid the sun’s rays.
That was when I saw a lady with a basket in her hands and a young daughter by her side arrive at this small shop where we were all housed. The daughter looked so innocent. She was so happy to see us. She reached out with her tiny fingers to pet my friend but her mother quickly frisked her aside as if it were a taboo to pet us. I wished the little one all happiness in her life. She reminded me of my brother whom i adored so much. I was lost in thoughts when I felt the cage door open.
Freedom atlast! I tried to unruffle my feathers and shake all the dust off me, but a firm grip around me kept me from doing it. This man carried me inside the dim and dingy shop and laid me on that wooden stump. What was he doing? Why was he putting me on this stump? I was starved and I hadn’t eaten a grain of food since two days nor had a thirst quenching drink of cool water.
I was too exhausted, too heart broken to put up a fight with this stranger. I suddenly felt something sharp slice my throat open! I bled and bled profusely. My snow white feathers which I was so proud of, now had thick red blood all over it. An irony, the color of peace-white, was now getting covered by the color of violence-vermilion. The pain was excruciating, I wanted to scream but I could not. I felt I could take a hundred more of such truck journeys if I could avoid this pain. It was so unbearable that I did not even know whether I was alive or dead. My heart beats became more reduced, I gasped for breath. He then lifted me up by my legs and immersed me boiling water that scalded me alive. The pain that I now felt was like nothing that I had never experienced before. I would not wish even to my enemies, a pain like this. As I hung on to my dear life, half dead, I could feel the stranger pull my feathers off me. It hurt like a small match stick burn in an inferno. I pleaded with my creator for death to come quickly. A slit throat, a drown- that too a drowning in vermilion colored boiling water (colored from my own blood) which burnt my eyes and other parts out, was too much to kill any living being with. I felt God was being too unfair to me. So many pains at one go? ‘One suffering at a time please’, I wanted to tell my creator. Which excruciating pain am I supposed to suffer at one time? My entire life passed in front of me, before I my heart took its one last painful beat & before getting boiled to a pulp.
Though it took a long time, my much deserved peace was here, finally…
My soul saw the lady with the basket purchase pieces of my flesh from the man who slit my throat. He wrapped chunks of my flesh and put it in a dark black colored plastic bag ( which was also the color of his soul). Maybe he subconsciously chose that color because he knew he had done something he had to be ashamed of, some deed that he had to conceal. I heard the lady coo to her young daughter- ‘Today, I’m gonna prepare chicken gravy for dinner, honey’.

at Maanja’s farm…

Today, the 25th day of Nov’ 2012, is ‘International Meatless Day‘. This re-post is dedicated to all the birds and animals who are exploited & killed by the billions each day for human consumption, experimentation, clothing and entertainment. May God bless all his creations with peace, love, life & compassion & may the spirit of this day live forever!

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