It had been a quiet day. We were out hunting when it began. We were scared out of our wits by the deafening noise. It sounded like an explosion. I hoped it was just a small accident caused by one of the humans, but the noise continued.

My mate and I flew back to our nest with the food we had gathered. It was not enough for six nestlings, but it had to do. Throughout our flight back home, we heard those awful noises and even saw some fires. We had to reach our nest as soon as possible to ensure the nestlings were safe. Once we reached the nest, we found the nestlings terrified by all the noise. They knew something bad was happening and couldn’t even eat the food we had brought.

Hours passed, but there was no respite from the noise. We didn’t dare come out of our nest and the other birds in the tree were also waiting in their nests for the noise to fade out. The sky was filled with smoke. The sun was barely visible.

Soon, it was night and we comforted the nestlings, promising them that everything was going to be alright as the humans would go to bed soon. But the humans were enjoying the noise, I had noticed. That wasn’t a good sign.

The noise continued. None of us could sleep. A while after the stars had appeared, there were many bursts of coloured lights in the sky. How strange these humans are! They made the day as dark as night with smoke and the night as bright as day. Some of the lights burst into more coloured lights. They looked beautiful in a strange way. Just when I thought that the lights won’t harm us, a streak of light came towards us.

It all happened quickly. One minute I was cowering in my nest, the next, I had been thrown off from the tree. I was stunned. I forced myself to look back at my home and my heart nearly stopped. My nest was on fire along with the other nests. The ones who made it out alive were flying around in panic. I couldn’t find anyone from my family.

I had lost my family and my home in that single moment, but I didn’t lose hope. There was still a chance that someone had survived.

I flew higher to get a better view. I could not spot anyone from my family. Then I noticed another streak of light coming towards me. I dodged it by a hair’s length, but it burst into more differently coloured lights. Before I realised what happened, one of the lights hit my right wing.

I plummeted to earth. As I fell, I felt a burning pain in my wing. When I hit the ground, the pain spread to the rest of my body. I lay there, gradually losing consciousness and the world was getting darker despite all the lights.

I saw a human meet another human, they greeted each other. “Happy Diwali,” they said and began to chat as if they had no worries in the world. Humans sure had it easy. If only the humans would help us birds…

Then the pain disappeared and there was only darkness.

M. Anirudh, X B, D.A.V. Boys SSS, Gopalapuram