The Voice From Heaven

Anand was a step ahead of the idiom “born with a silver spoon“ because he was born into a family of affluent goldsmiths. From a very young age he was infused into the ancient art of gold making like all his ancestors were.  His family was one among the well-known lineages of craftsmen who had been reputed goldsmiths for generations. So naturally he was good at his work; but he had a foul temper and an arrogant demeanor. So,the name Anand that meant ‘happiness’ was an absolute irony in his case.

Like his father before him, Anand too stared working in the workshop as an apprentice to his father and gradually mastered the art of making fine and intricate jewelry. As time progressed, as per his parents’ wishes, he married a girl named Sita from the same community of goldsmiths, who thankfully had the temperament of a cow. It remained quite a mystery if he noticed the girl or was he more bothered about the jewelry she wore. However, she managed his household without complaining or nagging him too much except making subtle hints about provisions and groceries from time to time; but only after gauging his mood.

Meanwhile, Anand lived a routine life making gold jewelry for aristocrats and wealthy patrons. While he was distantly polite and sometimes curt with his patrons, he maintained a respectful distance just talking bare minimum just to explain the intricacies’ of his work. Whereas, common people from the village did not dare to approach him at all, but sometimes got their jewelry made or got them repaired from his assistants.

One day, his wife Sita found an abandoned parrot chick that had somehow fallen of the nest. Being a compassionate woman by nature, she brought the little parrot home and nurtured it back to health. She named the bird Mittu and nursed it every day. In a few days the bird healed completely and began to flutter about inside the palatial house in an effort to fly. She requested the local carpenter to make a large cage for the bird and placed it in one side of the courtyard.  The bird flew about inside the cage and performed it usual acrobatics that all parrots do. During her free time, as she fed Mittu she would talk to the parrot, who, perched inside the cage would be too busy relishing his treat. But one day he paused in between his meal and after a few attempts the bird shyly repeated a few words back at her.

Thus began a whole new chapter in the woman’s otherwise drab life. Sita found a companion in the parrot and began to have long conversations with Mittu which she could never have with her curt husband.  She would sometimes just talk her heart out or sometimes train the bird to talk a few words. Either ways they both had a close relationship.

As days passed, Mittu picked up more vocabulary. He would whistle to the dog, meow to a cat, and even mimic a crow or a domesticated animal that passed by. Every day, when Sita lit the lamp in the front porch as per tradition, Mittu would chant a prayer or two. When the women of other household came in to gossip, the parrot would also join in and acknowledge them with an occasional sentence, even though it made no sense to the context.  But he would cock his head to one side and listen carefully to the conversation and repeat a few sentences out of the blue. Mittu would order tea to be served if there were guests. Sometimes he would ask for tea when the guests have already been served or after they left. In any case, he kept everyone happy with his cheerful antics.

Soon, Mittu became a minor celebrity in the villages. People passing by the street would call out his name and he would respond to them cheerfully. He loved the attention except for some unruly children since they were loud and banged on the cage door. He would withdraw to a far corner and sulk for hours.  Even though Anand did not really care about the bird, Mittu looked at him as a savoir since the children ran away and did not enter the street when Anand was around.  So every day when visitors and passersby were invited for tea and refreshments, Mittu held a special place for Anand and he was often invited for a meal in his own house.

One day, Sita’s brother visited them and stayed over for a few days. Being a brash teenage boy, he had a foul mouth and out of some sheer sadistic pleasure, he taught the parrot a few abusive words.  One of them included a proverbial quote that roughly translated into -‘a goldsmith would pinch a little gold even from his mother’s jewelry‘.  And so the parrot went on repeating it every time he saw the boy.  One day Mittu repeated this phrase when Anand was at home which enraged him and he hurled a few abuses at the parrot. A few moments later, Anand was still in a foul temper when the parrot repeated the newly learnt phrase and the newly learnt abuses. Mad with rage, Anand opened the cage to strangle the bird. The parrot’s frantic calls brought everyone in the household to his rescue. The wife begged and pleaded with Anand to spare the bird and in the confusion the parrot escaped and flew away.

Unlike pigeons, domesticated parrots usually do not return to it cage once they are set free. But over the following days, villagers heard phrases and occasional invites for tea from tree tops. But every day when Anand was on his way to his work place, there would be a torrent of abuses.

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