The Pigeons and the Bird-Catcher
Posted on: August 16, 2018.

Once upon a time, deep in the jungles of the Western Ghats, there lived two pigeons—a husband and a wife—named Sameer and Pāyal. They were the perfect pair, just as suitably as they were named. Sameer meant “breeze” and Pāyal meant “anklet”—the breeze that carries the melodious jingles of the anklet.

At sunrise each morning, after taking a dip in the jungle river, they would go different ways looking for food. At sunset each evening, they would return to their nest in their favourite tree in the forest. They were a kind and affectionate pair, loved by all the residents in the forest. They knew neither misery nor sorrow and had never been separated for long or far from each other.

But then, nothing lasts forever…

Pāyal returned home early one evening and waited for Sameer to arrive as usual at sunset. But there was no sign of Sameer that evening. It was long past sunset, getting dark… and suddenly, it started to rain. Pāyal began to worry.

“Where are you, dear Sameer? You never get so late!”, she whispered to herself.

Presently, she heard the footsteps of a human. Looking down from her perch, Pāyal saw a man coming towards their tree… a bird-catcher. He held a cage in his hand with a pigeon inside. Pāyal immediately recognized the trapped pigeon… her beloved Sameer! Swooping down in an instant, she desperately tried to distract the bird-catcher by flapping her wings in front of his face, out of his reach, but in vain.

“Oh no! What should I do now? I have to save Sameer, somehow!” she frantically thought. Gradually, it stopped raining.

“Burr! It’s so cold”, the bird-catcher muttered, shivering pathetically. Dripping wet, his threadbare clothes completely rain-soaked, he appeared weak and impoverished. Stepping under the same tree where the two pigeons lived, he put his cage down and decided to rest a while. Poor Pāyal sat by her husband’s cage, weeping in grief.

“Do not feel sad, my dear. This man is our guest and he is cold, hungry, and needs our help”, said Sameer.

Pāyal understood what Sameer meant. Their guest needed a fire to warm himself. Blinking the last of her tears away, she flew around getting dry twigs, and made a fire for the bird-catcher.

“You are our guest, but unfortunately I have no food now to offer to you. I will thus jump into this fire and roast myself, which you can eat. It is all that I can offer you now”, she said, looking at him.

Overwhelmed by the pigeon-couple’s compassion, and touched by their hospitality, the bird-catcher immediately stopped Pāyal from jumping into the fire. Subsequently, he unlocked the cage and also set Sameer free.

“I have been cruel and selfish. I will never again trap any bird in my net”, promised the bird-catcher and departed, leaving Pāyal and Sameer to reunite and recuperate from their brief ordeal.

*

No two people in this world enjoy equal abilities and opportunities. If success is a measure of material gain ranging from value of education, academic prowess, professional qualification, occupational designation, and financial security, to social popularity/influence, expensive real estate, powerful automobiles, and unchallengeable authority, and failure is in not securing any of these, then more are those who have failed than have succeeded.

In other words, more are those who are helpless than those who can look after themselves. The measure of success and failure should be free of bias, prejudice, influence, and circumstance. The powerful overwhelming the weak to ensure survival of the fittest is fit only among beasts and not among humans, for we are generally a weak race. What actually strengths each one of us is personal moral. The most essential virtue is compassion, and the highest moral of compassion is hospitality.



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