After over a year of knowing him, I’ve finally decided to share what joy and peace he brought to me, and our journey, with the world. How he gave me immense hope and endless happiness. This is a story of an angel. A story of a little bird. Charlie.

I’m not really a morning person. Mornings are those times when my mind and body are in deep slumber. So when one morning, my mom woke me up early, I couldn’t help but ask her to let me sleep more. That was until she forced me up and handed me a tiny creature. 

A baby bulbul that fell from its nest in an attempt to fly but ended up in a dog’s mouth instead. Bongo however was a pet so he let the bird go after his owner scolded him. My mom was there at that time fortunately, so she picked up the small birdie and brought it to me. I have always loved animals. To say I was delighted to have a bulbul sit on my hands, would be an understatement.

I tried to feed it something but it just wasn’t eating. By late afternoon, I was starting to worry that it might not survive if it didn’t eat anything. I went to three different veterinary doctors but they had no idea how to tend to a bird. So my distress only increased. After contacting different people, I came across a person who operates an animal shelter for disabled animals just outside my city. Without further ado, I went to see him. There, I finally got to know how to feed and take care of this bulbul.

They say, don’t judge a book by its cover. That was exactly the case with Charlie. On his first day, he was a meek little bird that didn’t make any sound or eat anything, it was as if he wasn’t even there. Little did we know that he was going to be the jolliest and chirpiest bird to have ever existed. From the second day, he would chirp so much for food, and for my attention.

Oh and let’s not forget his antics! Charlie was a picky eater. He absolutely loved eating fruits and disliked egg yolk. I couldn’t give him only fruits ’cause that was too much sugar. But he wouldn’t open his mouth for yolk. So I did a little juggad. I tempted him with mangoes to get him to open his mouth. And when he did, I fed him egg yolk. Score for me ! It didn’t last though, he got smarter .

I remember everything about him — His first flight, first time when he ate and bathed on his own and everything in between. I still keep the first feather he shed in my wallet. It’s all so clear before me like it happened yesterday.

He was so adorable and loved getting my attention. He’d sit on my shoulders or my head and poke my earrings and pull my chain or just sit peacefully and feel my warmth and eventually fall asleep in the crook of my neck if he wasn’t feeling mischievous.

When I’d not be around, he would sit on my clothes. He’d poke my pen when I would be studying. He just had to follow me around. It was such a task to get him to sleep early (like all the birds do) ’cause he would always follow me around. I guess, he took me to be his mom.

But most important of all, when I met him, it was a bothersome time of my life ’cause I had just completed my grade 12th and had to appear  in many competitive exams.

I found out that I wouldn’t be able to go to my dream university. Everything was just so uncertain, and it often caused heated arguments in my house. Despite all that, being with him made me so happy. He got me through all that. That little bulbul, which barely fit in my palm, had oceans of love filled in him, more than I could ever imagine.

I almost stepped on him this once and yet he was unfazed by it and followed me around like nothing happened. No matter how badly I fared in my exams, being with him made all my worries disappear.

He’s even had the fortune to meet and be blessed by Swamiji himself. He lived in the ashram for three days and met all the loving people around there. Unfortunately though,  he died after approximately four months of us knowing him.

Now that I sit and wonder about it, we both found each other for a reason. He got me through the most uncertain and difficult time of my life. I don’t even remember the bad things. Just happy memories with him. And my purpose was to set him free. To get him to Swamiiji. I feel like he has freed himself of this cycle of life and death, and is out there somewhere maybe as a star, or maybe is still sitting on my shoulder looking at me, telling me that you got through it once. And you can a thousand times again.

I often sit back and go through his pictures and videos. They never fail to bring tears to my eyes and a big smile to my lips. Charlie was a blessing for me. It was his act of kindness towards me to teach me to live happily, cheerfully and undauntingly. Some would believe we saved him.  But the fact is, he saved me. That was him. A true angel.

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Abhilasha Rajput

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