It was late spring and the plants, including the indoor ones in Mel’s and Nick’s apartment, were flourishing and, some of them, blooming.

“Good morning Peeku, Woah, you are up early sweetheart”, lovingly said Mel as she walked into little Peeku’s room. “Let me get your breakfast quick, I have an early start at work today.” Her husband, Nick, walked in shortly. He took little Peeku in his hands, gently moving his tiny toys aside. Peeku’s crib had no expense spared. It was huge, with toys, perches, and small playgrounds, and the range was frequently refreshed to avoid any chance of boredom setting in. Soon Nick was feeding Peeku fresh breakfast. Only the poshest range of organic food, and very often specialist treats exotic seeds, fruits, and such.

Nick chatted with Peeku in childish words that didn’t really mean anything but conveyed love and doting. Little Peeku could even repeat the cutesy words back, rather clearly and confidently. Ah, for Mel and Nick, it was nothing but pure, intense love for Peeku.

But, just like every day, they had to leave Peeku and head to their offices. They lived in a 23rd-floor apartment in Brooklyn Heights and work was a short cab ride away in lower Manhattan. Mel was originally from a small town. Nick, growing up, spent a lot of time in the country and he always had many pets around him to play with. Obviously now, they missed the open spaces and pets. But they had done their best to fill their apartment with life. All around their apartment, they had around twenty potted plants, part of the family. Keeping a dog was, unfortunately, not practical because of their city surroundings and lifestyle.

Two years ago, they got Peeku, a Cute, beautiful blue-white budgie parrot, chatty and lively and, even now, smaller than Nick’s hands.

Every evening, all the windows of the flat were thoroughly shut and Peeku was let outside the cage to fly freely inside the flat. The cage was between the open plan kitchen and the living room. Peeku would play, hopping across pieces of furniture, plants, and Mel’s and Nick’s shoulders. His eyes were most delightful, and Nick was adept at reading Peeku’s thoughts just by looking at his eyes pinning in different patterns. ‘Oh, you want more food now’, ‘you need more caressing… aww’, ‘you do not particularly like our guests, do you’, ‘what, a new toy, already?’, ‘ok I will change that music, relax your eyes’. ‘I know you want to play more, you never get tired, but time to go back to your crib Peeku, sorry’. And, of course, Peeku understood Nick fully too!

Well, Peeku never wanted to stop flying around, but he did get quite tired, quite easily. His flying feathers were clipped, you see. And even his strongest gush couldn’t carry him for more than ten feet.

It was a stormy September weekend. Mel and Nick had no plans of going out. They had just finished tidying up the kitchen after the home-delivered Chinese dinner, refilled their wine glasses, opened up Peeku’s cage, and settled down on the couch. Somehow, the small window in the kitchen, almost like a vent, was left open – maybe the bolt had loosened up, maybe it was the wind. It was around twenty feet from Peeku’s crib. Peeku made a straight dash for it as if he had played out the opportunity in his head many times over.

“Nooo”, screamed Mel. Nick tried to reason “Come back Peeku, you can’t go out. You will just fall and hurt yourself badly. There’s a storm out there. The cars will run you over. You can’t go, come back here please”. Both Nick and Peeku were now deeply gazing into each other’s eyes. Peeku’s eyes were relaxed, not pinning, not talking. What are they saying, Nick vigorously tried to read? It surely wasn’t ‘Haha fooled ya’ or ‘Ok, I’m coming back, I am not that stupid.’ It wasn’t ’I love you’, or ‘I will miss you’, nor was it ‘I don’t love you’, ‘I won’t miss you’.

Maybe it was mere matter-of-fact ‘I know, but I just have to go’. And just as he leaped forward to catch Peeku, Peeku took off into his flight. His final flight, or his first.

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Dinesh Om

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