I always wanted a pet. Maybe a dog, a furry one. But I never got one. I once got goldfish, but they died. My father sometimes joked that we could get a cow and tie it to the inside of the door. Not a bad idea, I thought then, but it never happened. We stay in an apartment, and a pet should have more space than that. But once, I found an injured bird in my balcony.
It couldn’t fly very far, so it couldn’t go anywhere. We took it in. It took some coaxing. I had to hold out a spoon filled with water. It drank the water. Then it hopped on to the spoon, and I carried it in. It was a beautiful white bird, with some light blue feathers on its head. I put it in a large cardboard carton, and put a thin wire mesh over it. We gave it fruits to eat, like a bite from the box of strawberries we had bought, chickoos and bananas. It ate very little, but I suppose that’s just how much birds eat. It seemed to enjoy the fruits, because it twittered cheerfully every time we gave it something.
I loved that bird. I wanted to keep it, but my parents said I couldn’t keep it locked up in a cage. I agreed with them, that it would be cruel, but I really wanted it. I wanted it to be free, but I didn’t want to let it go either.
The second day it mostly made trilling sounds and slept. It also started fluttering about inside the carton. It even tried to have a bath in the water we had kept for it, because it was all wet and there were feathers in the water.
The next day, it must have been stronger, because it kept trying to push the wire mesh away. I didn’t take the hint. In the evening, my parents and I had gone to the movie theater. When we came back, the carton was empty, and the mesh had been pushed so that there was a gap just large enough for a certain small, white bird to get through. The balcony door had been accidentally left slightly ajar. The bird was gone.
I haven’t seen it since, but sometimes I hear a trill outside the house and I drop everything to look outside. But it’s always just my imagination. And now, whenever I see a white bird, whether in an oak tree or a palm tree or a jungle or anywhere else, or hear a trill, I remember my pet that never really was.
(This post is an entry for the online short story contest – My Pocket Story conducted by Tell-A-Tale in collaboration with youthopia.in)