To kill the golden oriole - short stories online
It was a beautiful day, late in Autumn, I was tired from my many chores and needed a break. I made myself a hot cup of tea and was relaxing on a comfortable reclining chair, a book in one hand and tea in the other. I lay my book on my lap, I looked up at the huge Pepal tree content with things as they stood. Watching the yellowing leaves rattle and glisten under the mild evening sun I thought how blessed I was, I had a lovely family, a beautiful home and wonderful friends, I couldn't ask for anything better. Just then I noticed, that the oddly shaped yellow leaf that I had been staring at, wasn’t a leaf at all, it was a bird. A bird, that I had come to know and love so much in the few last years, he was never alone, he always had his mate by his side, but now where was she?
Those were gloomy days, I remember, a few summers ago. I had been in pain, I could not move around much, my husband had moved our huge bed closer to the window so that I could amuse myself with the sights and sounds of nature, that I so loved, during those long days when I was alone at home. That was when I had started noticing the yellow birds. I am not even sure if it was the same pair that came back year after year. All I knew is that, we were friends. These birds were my only sign of hope and cheer in my pain and gloom, since the doctors had consigned me to a life of pain and immobility. I had someone install a nice little feeder, I filled it with sunflower seeds, which my Golden orioles gobbled up with delight. I had become so fond of the birds that my husband would first ask me if I had seen my Golden orioles as he returned home in the evening. The Golden orioles were also elusive, they never liked my camera. The moment I took it out, they flew away. I respected their privacy. They loved to sit there and sing, it was a like a concert just for me, we loved each others company.
Last Summer, I had noticed there were four birds on the tree, instead of two. My hopes soared, but only two came to the feeder day after day. I knew the older birds as I had seen them for a few years now. The younger ones just found another home and friends, I assumed.
Later that summer, I had gone away on a short holiday and when I came back, I realised that the feeder had been untouched, the birds had not come. Everyday I waited and went back disappointed. The birds had flown away. I assumed that the wild figs were not enough to feed the birds and perhaps they found a better tree. I missed them, but I always wished them well. I often peered into the feeder to see if they had come by looking for the sunflower seeds, but six months had passed by and there were no signs of them coming back. I had given up hope and stopped refreshing the feeder.
Now my thoughts were disrupted by the rather dismayed cry of the bird. I spoke to him in my baby voice, asking him, where he had been. I ran in to check my supply of sunflower seeds and behold, they had all become moldy and rotten. I had nothing to offer. I just picked a piece of roti (bread) that was a left over from lunch and dropped it in a plate hoping that the bird would come and eat. The bird just sat there for a little while, crying mournfully and then flew away. I wished I could speak his language, speak some words of comfort to him, but then I am not a bird. He never understood me.
I waited around the same time the next day hoping he will come again with his mate. A week had passed by and he never came. The fresh seeds in the bird feeder were untouched. I was sad, but then decided that I need to let go. Hope never seems to curl up and die, I waited again but now instead of looking up all the time I read the book that had been lying unread in those past few days.
The poetry was beautiful and the imagery was so vivid, that I closed my eyes and imagined that beautiful afternoon of the poem, in my minds eye. I was so caught up in my vision that I failed to hear the bird cry. Suddenly as if shaken from a restful slumber, I heard that familiar cry. My beautiful birds were back again. My heart raced wildly, I was so excited, my hope, my prayers had never been in vain. My friends were back, they brought back hope with them, as in those days of pain. They flew away as I looked up and I was sad that I missed that splendid sight again. Those brilliant golden feathers shining in the warm glow of the afternoon sun. You really had to be sharp to notice them, as they are often camouflaged under the yellowing leaves. It was difficult to see them with they afternoon sun shinning on those leaves, but the long telltale black feathers at the end of their wings, were what gave them away.
They were back the next day. Life was good again, it became a ritual we had, a date with with the golden oriole. I would drop everything I was doing, at three o’clock every evening for my date with my friends. Many things had gone wrong, I lost a friend to a killer disease, a friend had shifted base, my brothers grew distant, but I had found my peace. I wondered how often nature had been my solace through the tough and terrible times. If not for my God and nature, I may have lost it all. It was just that afternoon, as I drove to bring my son back from college, that I noticed a carpet of pink flowers on the road. The sky had change colors, it was pink in my view!! If happiness had a color it would be pink for me! The golden orioles had brought back the golden days.
One afternoon a few days ago as usual I lay back, resting contently looking at the orioles eating from the feeder (I had given up hope of ever photographing them) and keeping an eye on the nasty pigeons that assumed charge of the feeder after chasing my beautiful golden orioles away. The pigeons had become a menace around the place and it was decided by the little community here, that if a couple of the pigeons were shot down, the others would fly away and make a home elsewhere. I had never agreed to the proposal and refused to be a party to such things. I was not crazy about the pigeons, but did not hate them enough to kill them. No, I did not hate them at all. I heard a whistling sound among the trees and before I knew, my friend was falling to the ground..a red blotch around his neck, that is all I could see. Tears blurred my eyes as I saw the little female fly away to safety and I haven’t seen her since. I know, my tree will never be home to her again, the bird feeder would never be touched anymore, but hope never dies, I still wait for the lady bird to come. Human cruelty has left its mark again.
The call of a Eurasian Golden Oriole
Eurasian Golden Oriole
The male Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) is a beautiful bird with golden yellow plumes and a few black feathers on the wings. The female is greenish grey in color and is a pale shadow of its mate. Golden oriole is the only member of the oriole family that breeds in the northern hemisphere.These birds migrate to Asia and Africa in winter. The beautiful birds have a sweet haunting cry. They are difficult to spot among the yellowing leaves, thanks to which these birds are found in huge numbers in their habitats and are no cause for concern.
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