‘Do you think it’s time? Do you think they are going to hatch today?’ Entreated Papa Pigeon.
Mumma Pigeon looked at Papa Pigeon and rolled her eyes as she settled down on her clutch of eggs. She let out a long sigh, ‘Well, it is time. I have done my part. It hasn’t been easy.
‘What if it turns out like last time ….’ Papa Pigeon said as he restlessly trod along the tiny white cupboard hung on the balcony wall. He stamped over twigs, feathers, and a lot of poo.
‘Oh, God! Here we go again. Why are you so negative? It doesn’t always have to be the same as before. So our little squabs didn’t survive last time. And yes, I was very disheartened, hurt, and upset, but it’s not like we didn’t give it another chance. Let’s be hopeful that they will pull through this time. Soon we’re going parents of two beautiful little squabs,’ Mumma Pigeon smiled as she admired her tiny pure white eggs.
‘Do you think we should have picked another place to lay our eggs?’ Papa Pigeon asked worriedly.
‘Oh no, this human seems nice. Although she is a bit nosey because she keeps climbing up the railing to see if our eggs have hatched, I'm sure she means no harm. She even leaves water for us on her balcony every morning when she waters her plants.’
The eggs hatched the following morning, early. Two tiny dark-skinned squabs with patchy yellow feathers struggled into the world. The delighted pigeon parents did their best to look after their newborns and kept them safe from the eagles who flew high in the sky hunting for their prey.
Their mother fed them daily and nurtured her tiny ones without fail. Their hungry, happy chirps were music to Papa Pigeon’s ears. He proudly puffed up his pigeon chest and spread the good news among his bird mates.
Shruti, the woman of the house, was a kind, homely animal lover. Ever since she was a little girl, she always had a soft corner for all sorts of species. Not only was it one-sided, the animals, too, took a fond liking to her every time she encountered them.
Everything was going well until one morning; they had an unexpected visitor. Shruti’s sleep was interrupted by the loud shrieks of birds in the early hours of the morning. She got out of bed and walked to the big window, peeking through the curtains. To her surprise, she saw various birds gathering together, chirping and screeching. It seemed like a big conference going on. Shruti shrugged her shoulders and got on with her regular morning routine. Soon it was time for her to load her laundry. The different birds were still at it, screeching and chirping at the top of their lungs. They all flew away as they saw the human approach the washing machine.
As the Shruti placed the basket on the floor, she curiously climbed up the railing to check on the little squabs. Surprisingly, she saw a beautiful brown owl hiding between the vent of the two air conditioners.
‘Aaah! So that’s the reason for all this racket,’ she said as she got down. She admired the owl and soon loaded her laundry.
A few moments later, the owl flew away, disappearing in the lush green trees nearby. It needed a place to sleep and rest to recharge for the night.
After a while, the laundry was done. Shruti was stunned to see one of the little squabs sitting at the edge of her washing machine.
‘The human has come! The human is approaching!’ shrieked Papa Pigeon. ‘What are we going to do now?!?’
Mumma Pigeon stayed calm and observed. ‘Hush down! We just have to wait and watch. I just hope she doesn’t touch him. Oh, God! Please don’t hurt my little squab.’
Shruti left the washed load of laundry in the machine and stepped back inside the house as she had noticed the parent birds sitting on the AC vent. She thought the little squab would make a soft landing giving the birds their own space. ‘I just hope this one doesn’t die like the others.’ She recalled the number of times she had helped various squabs try to survive.
Shruti peeked through the curtains every morning and saw Mumma Pigeon feeding her little pigeon. He chirped happily every time and pleaded for more food. Mumma Pigeon had to look after her two babies separately. One was on the wooden cupboard, a sister pigeon, and the other was hiding behind a money plant pot, a brother pigeon.
‘When am I going to fly, Mumma,’ Sister Pigeon asked eagerly.
‘Soon, my dear,’ replied Mumma Pigeon. ‘Maybe after a week, I suppose. You are going to be six weeks old.’
‘Oh, Mumma, I just can’t wait to fly. I’m so excited.’
‘Well, you better stay nearby for some time. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you,’ Papa Pigeon added.
‘Well, they aren’t going to stay with you forever; they have lives of their own,’ Mumma Pigeon exclaimed. ‘Don’t worry. We shall be laying another clutch of eggs in no time.’
‘But what about Brother Pigeon Mumma…. When is he going to fly?’ Sister Pigeon wondered.
‘I think he’s going to take some more time. Somehow you’ve grown much faster than him. But not everyone's the same. Some grow quicker than others, and some just need more time,’ Mumma Pigeon smiled.
Over the next few days, Sister Pigeon was eager to learn how to fly. She flapped her wings and tippy-toed around her designated arena until one morning she just took off. Brother Pigeon’s eyes widened as he saw his sister take flight. Not only was he happy for her, but he was also disheartened that he didn’t take flight first. Being alone on the balcony floor made him feel lonely and depressed.
Mumma Pigeon flew down and sat beside him. He chirped a hungry chirp and ate the food his mother had brought for him but didn’t protest for more.
‘What’s the matter?’ Mumma Pigeon asked. ‘You better eat up; only then will you grow, and soon you can fly. Your tail feathers must grow longer so you can take off gracefully, land, and perch.’
Brother Pigeon sighed a long sigh.
‘It’s going to be okay, my dear. It’s just a matter of time. Soon you too will be flying high in the sky with us.’
Brother Pigeon remained silent as he saw a flock of birds flying high in the sky. He looked at his mother with sad eyes and said, ‘What if I’m not going to make it?’
Mumma Pigeon stepped closer to her little one and gently cuddled up next to him. ‘Now, now, dear. You need to flap your wings and walk around. You can’t stay hiding behind the plant all day. Don’t get disheartened. You need to have some faith that you are going to fly just like all the other pigeons do.’
‘But what about that human? She keeps coming in and out on the balcony,’ Brother Pigeon said. ‘It can be very alarming and stressful.’
‘Oh, she’s harmless. If she had to do anything, she would have done it a long time ago,’ Mummy Pigeon explained.
‘But how come Sister Pigeon flew before me?’ He moaned.
‘Look at your claw and look at my claw. Is it the same?’
Brother Pigeon scrutinized his claws and then his mother’s claws. As his father flew down to join the discussion, he took note of his father’s claws. He nodded slowly and said, ‘No, Mumma. They aren’t the same.’
‘Your father’s and mine aren’t the same either,’ she explained. ‘In the same way, none of us are the same. Everyone is different in their own way. That’s what makes us all special. Now go ahead and flap those wings, son. And I’m sure that you will take flight very soon.’
Brother Pigeon realized he had to be patient and listened to his mother’s sound advice. It was not long before Brother Pigeon took flight and soon joined the rest of his family high up in the sky.
Please note this story is appropriate for adults and children. So if you have children, please read this story to them. :)