Thursday, May 21, 2009


It was raining furiously that night. A sudden gust of wind brought down a few fronds from the tall coconut tree in front of the police barrack. The fronds together with other debris fell right smack in front of the door.

Suddenly I heard baby birds chirping. I immediately rushed outside and there they were, in the rubble, soaking wet and crying their hearts out.

"Baby mynahs!" I exclaimed as I stooped and collected them in my hands.

I brought them inside, dried them with a piece of an old towel and placed them in a box lined with old newspaper strips.

They were very hungry. For the night a few grains of soaked left-over rice would be sufficient. That was what my mother told me when she saw me restless looking at the gaping mouths.

Tomorrow was another story. She told me that mynahs normally thrived on insects, and grasshoppers would be the easiest to catch and the most abundant.

So began the story of me, a standard one student, busy running here and there looking for grasshoppers. They were plentiful in the nearby fruit orchard and coconut plantation.

With the abundant high-protein and high-energy meal of grasshoppers the baby mynahs grew fast. Soon they were ready for their first flight.

A neighbour's tom cat suddenly walked into my house and without warning pounced onto my baby birds. A baby bird was in its mouth. I gave chase but it was too late. It was already dead by the time I got hold of it.

It was a sad day for me. I buried it in a shallow grave beneath a mango tree and marked it with a few stones.

The other baby mynah grew faster for it had all my attention day in and day out. Soon it began to fly. Numerous falls did not deter him.

Soon it followed me wherever I went. It would join in with his wild friend whenever he is with me. But a little trick of mine would bring him flying back to my shoulder. I just had to play-act smacking a grasshopper with a lidi broom.

One morning I found his cage wide open. Johnny (I called him Johnny from a Western hero) was not there. Then began a frantic search for him every where.

I was late and missed the bus that morning. For that my father had to send me to school on his bicycle.

After school I continued searching for him. I found him. He was in a neighbour's kid's bird cage! Despite of my plea he insisted that it was his. Even his parents defended strongly that the bird was his son's.

I gave up. Johnny continued to be in my mind and even now the story of me, a standard one kid, raising a baby bird on my own is still passed on to my children, nephews and nieces.

1 comment:

Martin Lee said...


I was on the other side of your story when I was a small boy and caught a friendly mynah on the little grass path that my grandpa built that was leading to our house. The "owner", another small boy, one year my senior came crying with his elder brother and wanted his bird back, my mum and I finally agreed and we graciously gave the bird back to him.

Maybe you should have cried as loud as that little boy so as to get your bird back.