The Yellow Bird [SHORT STORY]

yellow bird tropical
Written by Arunima

In a village there lived an old man with his son, daughter-in-law and his grandson. Every day, he would walk his grandson to school and back. The walk took them on a road, shaded by mango trees, past paddy fields and a serene river with clear blue water. The village was small, set on the outskirts of a larger town. Yet it was a prosperous one.

One day, on one such walk, he told his grandson the story of the yellow bird. When he was young he used to walk down this same road to the school in the nearby village. Of course, there was no pucca road back then, just a dirt road traced out by the feet that had trudged over it for countless years . One summer day, when he was nearly fifteen, he looked up to see a large yellow bird flying straight at him. It looked like a tropical bird, one he had seen only in books. Before he could duck out of its way, the bird came down and swished its feathers against his chest, knocking him over. By the time he straightened up, the bird had disappeared. As he looked around for the bird, his insides felt as if they were filled with sunshine, a happiness he could not explain. At the same time there was a gnawing feeling, a yearning for knowledge and a desire for change. It was as if the Yellow Bird had left a figment of itself inside him, a figment that was beating its wings against his chest, craving for something that could only be fulfilled with new experiences.

He did not go back home that day. Instead he took the bus that took him to the closest city. After wandering around and traveling the world for years, he came back to his village, wiser and more knowledgeable, ready to use this knowledge to help the village he loved.

A week after he told this story to his grandson, the old man died. Some days later, while walking down to school alone, the boy looked up and saw a huge yellow bird. He watched the bird grow closer. In his heart of hearts, he had been expecting this to happen ever since he had heard the story. He did not duck as the bird swooped in on him. He knew what would happen next.

(The underlying story of the Yellow Bird was published over 20 years ago in an annual compilation of short stories by CBT. As such, it cannot be attributed. The original story has been modified in this post.)

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