The Little Sparrow, a short story by Nafisa Shabbir at Spillwords.com

The Little Sparrow

The Little Sparrow

written by: Nafisa Shabbir

 

The first time I saw the sparrow, it was on a sultry day in May while I was chatting with my youngest sister on the net on Skype. I heard a loud thud in the balcony. Looking through the glass doors, I saw a small sparrow collide against the glass door separating my bedroom from the balcony. It then fell on the ground. My sister sent me 4 to 5 messages before it registered on me that I was concentrating on the sparrow, and it was only when she asked what was distracting me so much that I realized I had been totally absorbed in the events occurring in my balcony than on my sister’s comments. I told her to excuse me for a few minutes while I investigated what was happening outside the room, before I resumed my conversation with her.

Looking at the sparrow, I saw that it was a tiny creature and it had sustained an injury – some feathers were standing out at an awkward angle, and it was hopping from one potted plant to another. Taking pity on its plight, I filled a small bowl with water, and a plate with some breadcrumbs and placed it in a strategic place, hoping that the little one would understand that this was nourishment being provided for its sustenance. However, not only did the sparrow ignore the bounty, but the food soon attracted pigeons, and flies, and much later ants too, and I had to finally pick it up with a feeling of hopelessness and despair and leave Nature to run its course. Frustrated with my failure to tempt the sparrow, I turned to the computer, and resumed the threads of the conversation I had been having, though time and again, I kept getting distracted, and in between typing my messages and chatting, I kept stealing looks at the sparrow.

Over the next few days, in fact for a week or more, at whichever time of the day, I went to the balcony to water my plants, I would see the sparrow run for shelter to hide behind some leaves, hoping that it was invisible to me. It would stand still till I returned back to the room, when it would resume its hopping, either on the ground or by taking small leaps on the branches and stems.

By that time I had discovered that the sparrow was just a wee baby and its mother had also arrived to take care of it. This was because I heard more chirping every day. This was the sound of its mother arriving with food for its baby which it would tenderly feed in its mouth, and then fly away, to return again and again. As I looked at this tender picture, I was transported back in time to my teenage years. We used to have lunch in the kitchen, and I would always take care to scatter a few grains of cooked rice (if not available, uncooked) to feed the sparrows who would fly in chirping excitedly whenever we assembled for lunch during weekends or the holiday months, before partaking of the food myself. On those weekdays that I was in school, my mother used to feed the sparrows. Lost in my reverie about the past, I felt a strong bond with the present – in both places, there had been sparrows, and there had been my family; and the bonding was as strong as ever. The only difference was that the sparrows of my childhood were eager to share in my simple fare; and this baby sparrow was too timid, and too small to grab its share – it still waited for its mother to feed it.

In the weekly magazine that came with the local paper, I had come across an article about a sparrow being rescued on the highway and being turned over to the SPCA. I was in a dilemma from day one – should I call the local SPCA and report the sparrow, and separate it from its mother? Was it fair on my part to interfere with Nature, and with a living species? What was the exact procedure that I should follow? Meanwhile, since the sparrow was hopping around, I deduced that if was able to hop around, it should be better, and therefore it was best to leave it to its Fate. My dithering stopped on the day I woke up to the sound of silence. No more sound of baby chirps to distract me. I thought that the sparrow had regained its strength as it had been hopping further down the balcony day by day, and finally gained the willpower and the strength to fly off. I wished it happiness wherever it was.

Little did I know what had happened till I had my servant clean the balcony a couple of weeks later. He came to me with a woebegone face, carrying the body of a tiny little sparrow in the trash holder. Oblivious to its fate, I had not realized that the little one had fallen from its precarious perch on one of the pots and fallen down. How long did the mother search for it? How long did it suffer before its death? These questions consumed me with grief and regret at my passivity….

Life goes on, the wheel of time keeps spinning and the sparrow is now a memory…I hope that relieved of its misery, it is now in the garden of Eden happily warbling its merry songs in the presence of its Maker.

 

The Sparrow’s Story

I have heard it said that there is lots of kindness in this world. People are sometimes more kind to their pets than their own family members. If this is true, then I must admit that I have been unlucky to face only ignorance, indifference and sorrow.

I opened my eyes one glorious morning to see Mother sparrow looking with concern at me. As soon as she saw me awake, she chirped her happiness, and flew away to get me some worms. Under her loving care, I flourished, and the day soon came when she decided, literally, that it was time to spread my wings, and fly high……………

Thump, crack, OUCH. Waves of pain rolled through me, and I had trouble deciding where I was and what had happened….. Oh no!!!!!!!!!!!!! What I had thought to be an entry into a cool living room, turned out to be a spotlessly clean glass door that had completely foxed me. I dashed against the glass and took a nasty fall. CRACK!!!! Oh, oh, oh, what was that now???? I tried to fly back to the safety of my mother’s comforting arms, but alas……………………my right wing had bent and horror of horrors. I could no longer fly. Sobbing (chirping) with consternation, I hopped left and right, trying to search for my mother. Where was she? Why had she deserted me in my hour of need?? My eyes were too full of tears; my head spinning too much; and my ears roaring with so much pain that I just did not hear the plaintive cries of my mother’s wailing grief. Finally, when my first sobs subsided I felt a soft touch on my lips – it was my mother offering me the juiciest worm she had been able to get to tempt me to forget my tears. I seized it with greed, for by now, I was feeling weak with hunger, and almost reeling on my tiny toes. After feeding me, she patted me and soothed me, and then flew away to get me my next meal.

So it continued for the next few days. Early morning, my mother would be at hand to give me my breakfast with the first rays of sun throwing its bright beams across the world. Soon, she would bring my second meal, then the third, and so on through the day, till it was dusk, and time for my beauty sleep.

However, my heart was not in my food – it was in the far away horizon beckoning me with whispers of the wind about the beautiful sights that awaited me out there in the big, big, world. The songs that I would hear when I was taking lazy dives in the wind. The smells that I would experience when I ventured out further, and further… the smile of happiness on my parents faces when they realized I could hold my own in this big, big world, and could fend for myself; the tasty juicy big fat worms that I would dig out and eat by myself…. These and other such thoughts would pass through me, and I would feel waves of longing over leading an excited, happy life like my siblings, drinking in the sights and sounds that they took with such serene indifference whilst I longed for them with such sad intensity, and my spirits would droop, and so would my head and body…..
The food would not go down easily – I would choke thinking about what could have been, what sights I might have been seeing, what pranks I and my siblings might have been playing, and I would long for a black-out from my present misery.

Till one fine day, I made the ultimate decision and decided that this sort of a frustrated, dejected life was just not worth living….I would rather give up my life, than keep pining forever. When my mother came in search for me, I did not crawl out from behind the safety of the flower pot I was hiding …..I let her trills of anticipated happiness at coming to meet me slowly turn to desperate squeaks at being unable to locate me, and then wails of sorrow at visualizing the worst-case scenario- that I had been pounced upon, and been eaten up by a predator. However, she did not give up hope so easily – everyday, for the next few days, she would make surprise visits to the balcony, and give questioning cheeps to me requesting me to answer her, though by now, I was too weak to respond, and could barely hear her, as if it was a sound from another world altogether. My head was literally in the clouds, wool gathering, and visualizing the sights and sounds that I would get to see in my next life, my next incarnation…..

Till my last day on this vicious, unfriendly earth arrived…..I got up feeling a funny mixture of sorrow and hope. Sorrow that I would be leaving my mother, my only source of tenderness in this cruel world; and happiness that I would let my soul soon soar to the sky, beyond the limits of the universe and the mind.

And so I breathed my last, and departed from this world with my mother’s cries ringing still in my ears –

Where are you, baby;
where have you gone
I searched the earth
But not the sky
I am so sorry
You never learnt to fly
And now that you are lost to me
I can hear some voices sing to thee…………….

Where’s your Mamma gone
Where’s your Mamma gone
Where’s your Papa gone
Where’s your Papa gone
Far, far, away
Last night I dream that my mamma was gone
Oowee, chirpy, chirpy, cheep
Hey, last night I dream that my papa was gone
Oowee, chirpy, chirpy, cheep
Where’s your mamma gone
Where’s your papa gone?

 

The Sparrow’s Mother’s Story

The birth of a child is not just the fulfillment of a desire to carry forward one’s name, it is also a wonderful feeling to know that you are blessed enough to join in the creation of a living, breathing, entity that you can love, cherish and bestow all your affection on; and a squeak of joy when your child recognizes you is such music to the ears, which only a parent, especially a mother can really identify with.

My first born came into the world one bright and sunny morning, when it broke out from the egg shell that was covering it, and which I had been protecting with such trepidation from the rooks and crows on the branches of the neighboring trees, and gave a tentative, inquisitive, hesitant chirp to herald her arrival in this world. My look of concern turned into an outpouring of merry happiness, I chirped with delight till my partner got weary of my non-stop chirping, and gave a gentle nudge requesting me to stop attracting the attention of my inquisitive neighbors. I flew to the nearby public gardens to get a juicy worm for my little one. It gobbled up the same greedily enough, and I flew back to get another, then another.

And so the days passed, and the day soon arrived when I decided that it was time for my child to spread its wings, and fly high, and discover the wonders of the beautiful world it had been born in ……………

I had decided that for its first flight, its destination should be a nearby place; and so it was that the balcony of the building that was closest in line with the branch of the tree we were perched on should beckoned me forward, as the best place to land, since there were a few potted plants in that balcony on which my young one could hop and skip about….

Little did I know about the impending tragedy that was in store for me till it struck… my little one was so dazed by the new sights and sounds it encountered, and so fascinated by the beauties around, that it failed to register where it was headed till it dashed against the door of the balcony I was heading for, and spinning out of control, fell to the ground with a loud thump.

I was in tears; I wailed my grief and kept crying out to my child asking it to reply whether it was ok, and trying my best to see what injury it had sustained… when I finally realized that it had sprained its wings after that nasty bump, I was relieved that it was alive, and depressed that it had hurt itself so terribly on its very first solo flight…. After I saw that it had quietened down a little, and was no longer gulping its sobs in sorrow and fright, I went to get it some food, which it gulped down hungrily…

Life became a round of flights from the tree to the balcony, and the balcony to the tree…my little one was gradually regaining its inquisitiveness and hopping around from one plant to another soon enough.

Gradually, however, I realized that the impact of the strike had not just been physical; the injury that my child had incurred had a psychological aspect to it too…..slowly, I could feel that my child was feeling frustrated and left out at not being able to take in all the sights and sounds and new sensations that its new life would have offered it if it had been a healthy, normal, child; and I could feel it withdrawing into itself, and becoming an introvert though it was always extremely glad to see me when I carried across its daily nourishment to feed it….

Till the dreaded day that my child disappeared from sight, I lived in the constant hope that my prodding would have an effect on my baby, and it would recover both in body and in spirit. One day, when I got it a small grain of rice that I had found nearby, it did not respond to my chirping, and come gladly to greet and meet me. My chirping brought out the owner of the house in the balcony: she looked out to see what the frantic chirping was about, but my child refused to reply to my pleas to respond……….. I kept circling around the balcony the whole day, without any success. Next day, dawn found me hovering around the balcony, and the whole day was spent in a fruitless search for my little love, who may have disappeared out of sight, but was never out of my mind even for a second. I kept on my search for a number of days, till drooping with sorrow and frustration, I finally realized that my little one had been snatched away from me forever, and ever…

Goodbye, the apple of my eye, goodbye

Where are you, baby;
where have you gone
I searched the earth
But not the sky
I am so sorry
You never learnt to fly

Beloved child, goodbye, goodbye……………………………………

Nafisa Shabbir

Nafisa Shabbir

I am a senior citizen who has been writing/composing since my teens and I would like to share my thoughts with like-minded people.
Nafisa Shabbir

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