Cooper was trying to sleep.
“ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE. GET LOST”. He pushed him hard.
His cousin Shanty’s horror stories knotted his intestines.
“This is my curse for your rudeness, you careless bird! one day you will be served as the tasty meal of that demon. Bear it in your mind.” Shanty saved himself from the fall, caused by Cooper’s push and rushed off.
Every night he kept talking about a wicked demon who trolled in darkness and could smell the parrots as his meal. All efforts to get rid of whose grip was fruitless and the one who enjoyed every cry and the tasty meat of parrots, cooked or raw, he didn’t care.
Everybody else dropped off.
Cooper was also trying hard to get some sleep but as soon as he closed his eyes, a full-colour rendition of that wicked demon, relishing his meat was there under his eyelids.
He was a simple grey parrot. The only hint of any other colour in his body was his red tail. But he was proud to be the part of his big flock. People down on the earth often forgot to blink their eyes when they got a chance to see them flying together like a big sheet of subtle grey colour waving up in the sky with beautiful bright red flowers printed on it. They were like children of the sky, free-spirited, not a care in the world. Swooping, singing, playing….
Today he was not well. His foot was hurt in an accident. So, he had to stay on the tree. He watched the twilight advancing and his returning flock. Their wings beat the air as if it took no effort at all, each movement precisely on time as it should be. The birds were silhouettes against the orange kissed heavens. Soon they were lost in blackness roosting with head tucked under wing until dawn. But because of this nerd named ‘Shanty’, he had a sleepless night, watching the hungry moon searching for his food behind the clouds.
Next morning, he flew in search of food and saw some grain, lying on the ground, not very far from his tree. His black beads like eyes were alert, dainty head tilted this way and that, to make sure no danger was around. He became busy enjoying his breakfast, suddenly he felt his feet were tangled in some strands of thread and that he was being pulled. Soon he was scared to death to find himself in the hands of a man. He screamed, flapped and fluttered his wings desperately to fly off with all his meagre force but all in vain.
Was he still dreaming about the horror story of last night or his worst nightmare was coming to be true?….
He glanced helplessly towards his tree, imagining his family, cousins and friends. He was sure this was the last time he could admire the beauty of his oil palm tree.
The man took him into his shabby hut. He seemed very poor. There was hunger in his eyes but he was kind enough not to eat him and other birds caged in the hut. Cooper didn’t get any decent meal the entire day. He had no appetite left either. He was sleepless that night again but was missing Shanty and all of his ‘frenemies’. He was missing the company of the hungry moon too. He cried, howled, hurt himself in fruitless attempts to get free. But the luck was not in his favour.
Next morning, the man took all the cages and reached a place where many animals and birds were being sold. It was chaotic and scary. Cooper was energy drained. Many people came to him but nobody liked this grey unappealing bird. Many of his ‘one night companions’ were sold off very soon. In the evening, in the dull sunlight, a dull man with thick eyeglasses and simple clothes, liked this dull bird, paid for him and took him into his car. There he got thin apple wedges to eat, his all-time favourite fruit. He felt a new energy and an instant affection for this not so boring man. Cooper was still sceptical but ate the apple.
They reached the man’s house. It was a simple cottage with a beautiful garden. He saw many other birds there, some in cages and some roaming freely.
The man put him in a dimly lit place, perhaps inside an empty cupboard. He patted his head and back with his gentle touches ignoring his bites. He offered tasty meals again and slowly gained his trust.
Cooper was in good hands.
The man was a bird trainer. He could recognize the talented and the endangered African grey parrot in unsafe conditions and decided to rescue it and put to some good use.
‘Coochi-Coochi Cooper’ was his favourite name given by his loving master Bob. He formally introduced him as Cooper to others. This name was given by him.
‘Wanna scratch Cooper?’…
‘Peanut mmmm, … Peanut mmmm’…
The man himself was a chatterbox. Sometimes Cooper stared at him as if he was an idiot. He didn’t understand anything in the beginning. But slowly and steadily his vocabulary was increasing as Bob introduced many words with related pictures and real objects. Cooper himself was amazed at his exact mimicry of the sounds taught by Bob. Now Cooper enjoyed the company of his master and was eager to show off his talent and newly learned skills and tricks to others.
It’s been almost a year after he lost touch with his people. He still missed the funny games, carefree races in the sky with friends. Bob was a bit mechanical. His concentration was on teaching him new things, not on enjoying with him. Cooper was a witty soul who enjoyed being funny and mischievous. He was bored most of the time.
It was Christmas that day. There was a small gathering at Bob’s house. People enjoyed melodious music, good food, chatting, laughter and exchanging gifts. But Cooper’s eyes fell on a quiet, handsome boy who was almost 10-year-old. He was sitting in one corner, lowering his head.
“Kyle! Come …. you are the best dancer in our group. We are missing you dear despite you being present here.”
He saw the most beautiful girl in the party, same as of Kyle’s age, asking him to dance with her. But she was refused and the boy silently left the place. There was a sadness suddenly. Everybody started talking about Kyle. Bob interfered and said,
“Hey, guys! Don’t spoil the mood. Carry on the fun. I’ll take care of the boy.”
Bob took Cooper’s cage in his hands and came in the garden.
“Where are we going, Bob? Where are we going, Bob?…
“Wait, Cooper… I want to introduce you to somebody. But you have to learn not to be so loud always.”
“Rude Bob!… Rude Bob!”
Bob put his hand gently on Kyle’s shoulder.
“Hey, Kyle! I know you are missing your brother. Nothing can compensate this loss and we too can’t forget him. But to refuse everybody else’s company and to punish yourself and your loved ones like this, is not right dear. Try to come out of it. Take your own time but please come back to life Kyle.
See here…. meet Cooper!… “
“Hi Kyle!” Cooper said trying to cheer him up.
“………………….” Kyle didn’t respond but he kept looking at him with his blank eyes and sad face.
“OK! It’s cold out here. Come inside both of you. It’s time for the party to get over. Your parents must be waiting for you.”
And soon everybody was gone including Kyle and his parents. Bob sat beside Cooper……sad……worried.
“Bob! Bob!… What’s the matter …? What’s the matter?” Cooper wanted to know the details about the boy.
“I know! You are eager to know what has happened to that handsome boy! Will tell you for sure coz I know you are the only one who can help him and you have to do it for me”
Cooper kept staring at Bob with his big, round, black and yellow eyes.
“He and his younger brother John were on a family picnic. They both were playing, racing, wrestling with each other. Suddenly John trembled over a stone and hit his head with another after being pushed by Kyle. Kyle didn’t intend to hurt him but he got badly injured and was bleeding profusely. By the time they could reach the city hospital he was declared dead. Since then, Kyle blames himself for John’s death and is in depression.”
” None of the medicines, treatments, family love and care is working to bring him out of this state. He is in danger. The family has lost one of its sons and can’t afford to lose the other one now. I don’t know how much could you understand but you have to help the boy. Will you do that for me Cooper please?”
“I will……. I will….” Cooper repeated and took two rounds on the table showing his understanding.
Bob taught him many behaviours, skills, words and phrases to make him ready to help Kyle.
Cooper was thrilled to bear such a huge responsibility but was anxious too about the new place and new people.
Bob was a great trainer. Within a month, he introduced Cooper to many types of new people and situations. His fear was reduced up to a great extent. After some time, he could get Cooper certified as the ‘Therapy bird’. They had two brief visits to Kyle’s house next month. Kyle was not too indifferent towards Cooper. As soon as they entered in Kyle’s house, the flapping of his wings could distract Kyle’s mind away from his negative thoughts. He sat quietly next to Cooper, without responding to his greetings. But he didn’t leave the place either.
There was a ray of hope……..
The family was praying for a miracle to happen.
When Kyle allowed Cooper in his life, his parents gave the full responsibility of Cooper to Kyle. Kyle accepted the duties of taking care of Cooper’s diet, cleaning, walk etc… And if he forgot or remained lost in his thoughts or abnormal sleeping hours, Cooper reminded him,
“Kyle peanut mmmm, Kyle apple mmmm…..”
Kyle never turned a deaf dear towards his call as if he was serving his little brother.
Kyle’s parents were happy to see their kid interacting with a living being after a long time, taking responsibility, answering the demands of somebody. They found their eyes moist when they saw Kyle feeding the bird with his hands, cleaning his cage lovingly and trying to bring a fake smile on his lips when Cooper said, “Howzat Kyle!!”…., after a funny dance or some other silly trick.
They started dreaming to get their once chirpy, bubbly, sporty, giggling kid back to life again.
Cooper was now emotionally attached to the boy. Kyle had a very low appetite but due to Cooper, he was forced to eat better as he wouldn’t touch even his favourite apple treat until Kyle finished his meal.
“His health is improving.” Kyle’s doctor was talking to his mother.
“Physical activities, involved in taking care of the bird, are good exercises for him and are helping in improving his appetite. Also, his mind is less occupied with negative thoughts now. Kudos to this little bird Mrs Brown. It seems your prayers are answered in time. Let’s hope for the best”
Spring was bringing colours slowly in Kyle’s grey life.
Copper’s clipped wings were growing back and Kyle had to run a lot to catch him. Cooper too didn’t want to go away from Kyle. He just wanted to be loved and he was getting the same.
One day a miracle happened.
Though Cooper was toilet trained, he accidentally pooped on Kyle’s shirt.
“I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry”… He kept repeating, lowering his head in embarrassment and then noticed Kyle in a peal of laughter……
Nobody had seen him laughing after the death of his brother. This voice seemed to be the most melodious sound to his mother’s ears who was in the kitchen. She came running and couldn’t take her eyes off Kyle,… She was shocked, with her eyes moist, body unable to keep itself still and Kyle was excited to show her what the silly Cooper had done. Cooper was embarrassed and scared to get punishment but both got a warm hug and witnessed tears of joy.
After that incident, Kyle’s recovery was faster. He was responding well to the medicines and other treatments. He was smiling and laughing more often.
One day, Cooper mimicked the sound of the telephone, Mrs Brown came and picked up the receiver and found Kyle and Cooper laughing at her. In the evening, the same episode was repeated with Mr Brown and all four had a good laugh together after ages.
A beautiful life was entering their house with all bright colours.
“What is it, Cooper? I’ve just fed you.” Kyle asked answering the screams of Cooper without taking his head out from the duvet.
“Kyle!.. Kyle!… save me, save me….Kyle…” Cooper kept screaming. …..
Something struck to Kyle’s mind, he threw his duvet at once and got up to be shocked. He saw one cat could almost open Cooper’s cage and without any second thought, he threw his pillow at the cage. The cat ran away at once leaving Cooper and his cage swinging violently in the air.
“You alright? You alright?….” Kyle went hysterical, checking Cooper from all angles.
His parents came running.
“Mom, mom…we were about to lose Cooper. That… that cat wanted to kill his mom. It wanted to kill him. It …..
“And YOU SAVED HIM, my child. You have saved him, Kyle.”
Kyle heard those golden words which he wanted to hear at the time of his brother’s death and with a loud scream, he burst into tears.
“Could I mom? ….. Is he alright? Check mom, please check”
“Yes dear! He is alright. Yeah, Cooper? Are you alright?”
“I am.. I am… I am… Thank you, Kyle, thank you, thank you”
Cooper flapped his wings and landed on Kyle’s shoulder. He was safe and to have him safe made Kyle feel that the arms of guilt which were strangling him from very long, have just let him go. Both were happy once again.