I am Mithu, a parrot. I live in a tiny cage. My day starts when I hear the bustle of the people in the house. When I feel hungry and screech for food, I am fed peas and grains. But my favourite foods are seeds, guavas, or chillies.
But I was hatched in the hollow of a tree. My mother took good care of all her children and fed us till we were big enough to fly. The day I learnt to fly was the happiest of my life. It took a couple of attempts before I mastered the art. It felt wonderful to zip through the air. Parrots don’t fly at great heights but it made me feel great.
One day, as I was eating some fallen fruit in an orchard, a net was thrown over me and Ranga, the pet dealer, caught me. Before he sold me, he did something very cruel. He cut my wing feathers so that I couldn’t fly away. Then I was put in a cage with a swing and sold to Rhitu.
She greets me every morning with “Good morning, Mithu.” When I repeat what she says, she asks her mother, “Oh mama, when will he learn to say ‘Good morning, Rhitu’?” We parrots have the ability to imitate human speech and this has proved to be a curse. Human beings treat us like mere means of entertainment. We are put in cages and our freedom restricted.
Rhitu feels my beak lovingly before she leaves for school. Thereafter, I am lonely. Rhitu’s mother talks to me only when she comes to the balcony where my cage is placed. By noon I am fed again. Sarojamma then picks up the cage to clean it and gives me a wash. If she is in a good mood, she goes about it in a gentle manner; if not I have a tough time. My cage is kept in the other open balcony where I’m allowed to bask in the sun. I look up at the birds flying about freely, enviously and dose off.
When Rhitu comes home from school, she feeds me and spends time talking to me. Soon, her friends drop in. Most are friendly but some poke me cruelly with pencils when Rhitu is not looking. Then comes Rhitu’s study time and I am alone again. When the lights are switched off, I have a long lonely night.
Rhitu loves me. Her family feeds me regularly. But about my other needs? A bird’s basic right is to fly in the open skies and stay among its own community. The restricted space in the cage makes my legs pain and I am not able to move much. I don’t know if I can spread my wings and fly again.
How would you feel to be locked up all alone far from family and friends, in cramped spaces by creatures much bigger than you, who love you just enough to feed you from time to time and talk to you when they feel like it?
So, I am making a request to all those who read this story: please spread the word that people should not buy birds and keep them in cages. If your friends have birds in cages, tell them to set them free, if they really love them.