This post is written in response to the ongoing Guru/unlikely teacher challenge. And my old tendencies of dragging the work till the end and submitting it on the deadline day has come alive. Next time, make the deadlines tighter, Medha ji. (just kidding😆)

If we observe carefully, we can learn from anything or anyone, the teacher doesn’t necessarily need to be present in the human form. A Scorpion On My Shoulder is a prime example. (do give it a read, if you haven’t already) Well, my case is similar, the unlikely teacher isn’t a human.

I had this real-life incident in mind which I wanted to share with you from a long time, and it looks like this is the perfect time to share it with everyone.

So without further ado, let’s get started –

It was 5th April 2020, when lock down was still in its infancy and we all were trapped in our homes, except for the animals.

In the evening when I finished my exercise, my father called me and diverted my attention towards the empty space outside the gallery, where pigeons usually came to eat food in the morning and evening.

There was it, a pigeon was limping and stumbling while walking and it was struggling to fly as well. Something stirred inside me, as if a voice had ordered me to rescue the pigeon, before any cat or dog lays their teeth to it. I immediately asked mummy for a small cardboard box and ran outside with it to help the pigeon. Fortunately, I reached in time and brought the pigeon inside our house in the box. There was some relief on my face.

(For those of you thinking why my father didn’t go outside on his own to help the pigeon – he is paralyzed since years and talks in a broken voice)

From the moment I brought the pigeon inside the house, my only purpose was to give it utmost care so that it can become healthy again, and scale the heights of the sky as before. Never for a moment I thought to cage it, never.

I kept the box containing pigeon at the gallery floor so that it can look outside which may inspire it to get healthy as soon as possible. But there was one problem, the cardboard box was restricting its movement and vision.

I observed this and something inside me ordered me to place the pigeon in a freer space where it can move and see outside. So I quickly placed a lot of used papers on the gallery floor and finally transferred the pigeon on to the paper-bed from the mini-cage like cardboard box. Seeing pigeon attempting to move and look outside gave me immense joy as I basked in its freedom.

As it was summer time, most of the people would prefer to take a walk outside at night time in our society and I was no different. Except this time, due to covid, very few folks were venturing out of their homes, even though our society had ample walking space till the main entrance and police intrusion was also minimal.

Since the first lock down was announced in March 2020, I somehow resisted myself to go out, except for the necessary work. Yet something inside me was asking me to just go for a walk in the night, maybe because I was feeling trapped being inside the house for the whole day and this feeling was getting prominent day-after-day. I finally decided to go for a walk at night on around 8-9th April.

I was barely 100 meters into the walk and I felt liberated, liberated from the shackles of the four walls.

While walking, a sudden realization dawned upon me, as if nature was waiting for this exact moment to tell me the truth-

So now you properly know how being caged feels like. Don’t you?

And now you also know how being physically free feels like. Don’t you?

All the incidents related to this situation flashed in my mind-

  • When I was young, we had a parrot in our house, I now knew how it felt in the cage.
  •  I also knew how the birds felt in the cage at the bird shop. I just knew.

It was nature’s time to play turn tables with the humans. Adjusting for size, a 10 ft x 10ft room would be a spacious enough cage for a human being to be trapped in for most of their life, yet we were fed up and were feeling trapped like caged bird in a few months of lock down. Despite having the luxury of roaming around the house, it still felt like being trapped, didn’t it?

Now imagine yourself in place of a caged bird and try to think how you will feel, if you were spend the rest of your life in a cage? How will you feel to have your freedom snatched away from you? All while not being able to speak a single word to express your feelings. You will be reduced to a living dead. (jinda laash)

Whenever I think about this situation, it gives me chills in my heart, for I knew how the pigeon felt.

Though I didn’t put it in a cage, but the house was like a cage for the pigeon. Every day, all the time it looked outside for its friends. It tried to fly hundreds of times, but its illness meant that it was unable to fly for more than a second. And I just could not go and leave the pigeon outside with its ill health. Despite all this, it was constantly glued to the window (we always kept the pigeon at the window) and I could feel its yearning to be outside in the core of my being. 

On 13th or 14th April, the divine freed its soul from the sufferings and shackles of the physical body and I cried a little bit and was relieved as well. Cried, because maybe I was attached to the pigeon and wanted it to get healthy again but it wasn’t meant to be. Relieved, because the divine freed it from the daily sufferings as the its health was showing very little signs of improvement. My family did our best to help the pigeon get back to its optimum health, keeping in mind the covid situation at that time, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.

The pigeon during its stay in my house gave me the most important lesson in my life till now – my truththe value of freedom. Since this incident I have greater clarity when it comes to freedom – every bird (living being) has an inherent right to freedom, freedom to enjoy and live life. And nobody has the right to put these freedom loving beings in the cage. My heart goes out for the every caged bird, I know how they feel while being inside the cage. Their sadness is just indescribable.

Freedom is the natural state of our being; yes there may be brief periods in our life where we may have to sacrifice our freedom for our growth, but then that’s it. If you keep a living being trapped for most of their life, then you are hurting life itself. And freedom is probably a bird’s most precious asset, it is their ticket to enjoy and bask in the beauty of life and nature.

Living in ignorance is a suffering in itself – not only the ignorant person suffers, but also unconsciously makes everyone around them suffer too. Otherwise why would anyone think of putting the freedom loving birds in the cage?

I would like to end this post with a lovely poem that I studied in my school. This poem reiterates the importance of letting the birds enjoy their freedom.

हम पंछी उन्‍मुक्‍त गगन के
पिंजरबद्ध न गा पाएँगे,
कनक-तीलियों से टकराकर
पुलकित पंख टूट जाऍंगे।

हम बहता जल पीनेवाले
मर जाएँगे भूखे-प्‍यासे,
कहीं भली है कटुक निबोरी
कनक-कटोरी की मैदा से,

स्‍वर्ण-श्रृंखला के बंधन में
अपनी गति, उड़ान सब भूले,
बस सपनों में देख रहे हैं
तरू की फुनगी पर के झूले।

ऐसे थे अरमान कि उड़ते
नील गगन की सीमा पाने,
लाल किरण-सी चोंचखोल
चुगते तारक-अनार के दाने।

होती सीमाहीन क्षितिज से
इन पंखों की होड़ा-होड़ी,
या तो क्षितिज मिलन बन जाता
या तनती साँसों की डोरी।

नीड़ न दो, चाहे टहनी का
आश्रय छिन्‍न-भिन्‍न कर डालो,
लेकिन पंख दिए हैं, तो
आकुल उड़ान में विघ्‍न न डालो।

शिवमंगल सिंह ‘सुमन’

Thank you for your time. 🙏🙂

Image Source –  Boyce Fitzgerald from Pixabay