Today, I am bringing you inspiration from a delightful little book called “Tiya” authored by Samarpan. It is about the adventures of a parrot called Tiya… And there is so much to learn from Tiya!!

Tiya is happily living in her Banyan (just like we are comfortably living in our comfort zone) when one day she hears a mysterious voice telling her “You are no ordinary parrot.”

Quoting Tiya in her own words…

I looked around to see the speaker and his possible audience, but only an absence met my eyes. It was quite disturbing – alarming, in fact. (The inner voice can be quite alarming) We birds believe more in speaking than listening. (I guess, we humans too believe the same) To us, speech means power, and listening means loss of power. In this case, not only was I the listener, but I was not even able to see the speaker. Scary.

Though I was a bit different from the other birds, particularly the crowd, it did not mean that I was extraordinary. All of us are shaped by our experiences and understanding of them. Today, while narrating this story, I know myself as Tiya the parrot – and also much more than that. But in those days, I knew myself as Tiya, a-parrot-of-the-banyan – a bird of no special consequence. Thus the words of the speaker were difficult to digest.

Also, on hearing those five words being uttered, a dormant desire for recognition suddenly awoke within me. One always feels puffed up when praised – more so, when the praise is misplaced. I felt important and turned my head around with a grave air.

On the other hand, I felt disturbed because I was an active member of ‘The Brotherhood of Birds’ that was founded on the motto, ‘All birds are equal’, some birds who were more successful, had tried to add the clause ‘Some are more equal than others’, but they had been hooted out. How could I then accept myself as an extraordinary bird when I had sworn to be one of the crowd? I had always felt that the future of the Banyan, and it’s birds, depended a lot upon me. It was based on these principles that I had been living my life.

Hope, expectation, excitement and apprehension were driving me crazy.  I felt like saying something to ease the situation, but was stopped by my ego that had always been on the sensitive side. The mental duel that ensued between my ego and myself, sounded something like this:

Let me speak to this voice. 

Mind your own business. 

That is what I wish to do. 

You better ignore him. 

Ignoring leads to ignorance. 

Ignorance is bliss. Be firm.

My will power has always been shaky.

Persuade yourself not to speak.

Persuading others is easy.

You are a disgusting fool.

(Doesn’t this so remind you of your own internal dialogues most of the time, when your mind actually tries to dissuade you from doing something your heart tells you to do)

I inhaled deeply and decided to make a frontal attack on this Mr.Voice. Answering him was easy. I had nothing to hide – whereas he was hiding. To me it was a sure sign of his weakness. Those were days when I was most vocal about things I knew the least. This characteristic of mine had earned me victories in every argument. One often tends to be most assertive when one knows the least. The listeners who know the truth ignore you, whereas those who do not, feel awed by your confidence and assertiveness. In either case, you have the satisfaction of silencing your opponents. That is why I had stuck to the theory that ‘Life is all about assertion’, and also, ‘He who shouts, survives’.

The voice had no form, so I looked in no particular direction and said, “I don’t know who you are. Nor do I know the reason behind your disturbing ideas about me. I also have no inkling of what you want from me. But could you please explain why your voice is present and your body absent?”

“Hmm. Clever, aren’t you? The likes of you are not made every day.”

Was it a compliment? I was not sure. On the saving side, at least it was now clear that the words were meant for me. My excitement mounted at the thought that I was really extraordinary. I could feel myself growing in size, as well as outgrowing my principles. Everyone in this world wants to forget about feeling ordinary. So, when one is thought to be more than ordinary, why should one abide by rules and promises?

I had nothing to say, and Mr. Voice continued, “You know Tiya… you do not belong to this place.”

Lightening in a blue sky would have startled me less. How did he know my name? Was he a magician? Or the ghost of one of Mr.Owl’s ancestors? 

My claws sank deeper into the branch on which I was sitting. In a strained voice, i somehow blurted out, “Who are you, Sir?”

“What is there in a name?” Asked back the voice.

“What about your form, sir?”

“What is there in a form?”

“What do you want from me, sir?”

“What is there in action?”

“What brings you here, sir?”

“What is there in a goal?”

“Where are you from?”

Judging from the trend of answers, it was a useless question.

“Home is where I am.”

Here I was – proud of my melodious name – Tiya; proud of my plummage, my species, my Banyan tree, my skills and my thinking. And there he was – nameless, formless, actionless, goalless and homeless! How dare he blast away my greatness, my ideas, my opinions and my philosophy?

Mr. Voice must have felt my annoyance, for he suddenly said, “Call me Hans if you like. I am not fussy about a petty thing such as a name. Tiya, you are much more than you think you are, and you can achieve much more than what you think you can. You need to realise this through experience, for which you have to get out of this place. The Banyan is not the end of the world, but just the beginning. You start once, and the rest will follow on its own. You will see things, experience them, and learn from them. These experiences will be bitter at times, and at other times sweet, but you will have to move on; holding to any one experience will limit you. Whenever in doubt, you will hear my voice. Think of me as your guide and benefactor.”

From here on, starts Tiya’s journey out into the world, and her process of self transformation…

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Divya Pai

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