It was the festival of birds.
Branches laden with the season's flowers and fruits were full of the delegates from different corners of the forest. The fluttering wings of a thousand shades created a magical rainbow. The exchange of pleasantries reverberated through the forest.
Soon came the announcement from the compere, the Cock: “Cock.. o.. ck.. cock o doodle-do calling everyone from the stage, I am your friend cockerel. Please settle down. The programme will start in a while.”
A hush of excitement followed. Birds flew down to vantage points at lower levels. “We start with an exquisite dance performance. I take pleasure in introducing to all of you, Peacock, the dancer,” came the voice of chanticleer.
The peacock took a few leisurely steps and in a sudden move, like a ballet dancer, spread his majestic plumes. The rhythm of resplendent colours together with enchanting movements sent the audience into raptures.
“Thank you, thank you every one. Next, in the long array of singers, first we present magpie Robin,” crew the compere.
Magpie sang attractively. But the listeners did not seem to like his mannerisms. He would occasionally break his rendition, look stealthily into the distance, jump from one branch to another and raise his long graduated tail. This annoyed everyone.
“Is this a comic interlude? We did not come here to see his dance,” the audience murmured. But soon the heckling was so great that the poor bird was shouted out.
The audacity of the magpie compelled many to take a chance. Soon, most of them were trying to perform.
“I am a court singer.”
“Look at my awards.”
“I am known internationally.”
The poor rooster had a difficult time arguing with them, telling them to get back.
Amid the cacophony, Owl The Wise appeared. He was sitting in a dark corner watching the show.
“Where is the Koel, the blessed singer who transforms the cool shades of the mango groves into a heaven?” he hooted. Silence prevailed. “Go and find him.”
A symbol of humility, the Koel was sitting among the thick foliage of the peepul. He had to be persuaded to take the stage.
“Sing my friend,” pleaded Owl.
“How do you expect this blackie to sing?” asked the parrot.
“Silence,” said the announcer. The heavenly music began to flow like a streamlet that brushes past the budding flowers on its banks. The mellifluous melody soared to a pitch filling the entire hillside and reaching through the distant blue sky through the white puffy clouds till it was eventually lost in the heavens. Not a wing stirred, not a beak opened. All the singers who had boasted so much sat transfixed. Tender leaves fluttered in the wind as though keeping time. The gurgling brooks provided the accompanying music.
When the ovation at last died down, the singer was nowhere to be seen. He had flown back unnoticed to his favourite spot on the peepul.
Keywords: children stories