Many years ago we lived in a small cottage. My family on the ground floor, and a big fat snooty woman, her arrogant husband and their nice children, on the 1st floor. Opposite building had, assorted kids of assorted ages and dispositions. A mad gardener who had pyromania, a piano teacher, assorted movie personalities, and a few undescribable human beings.
I wanted my kids to learn some of the same elements of wildness, that I had, and, which had turned clumps of my mother’s hair startling white. So the kids raced around barefoot and ate with dirty hands, climbed trees, cycled at dangerous speeds, rummaged in the overgrown garden and of course lived with assorted animals.
We had one dog, and another walked in our garden leaving his siblings with their mother. He was all furry and cute and was promptly adopted. The lady upstairs had cats – lots of them. They slunk around all over the place, hissed at my dogs and drove them batty. So much so that when my daughter went up to play with her kids, one of my dogs kept guard, giving her warning barks- telling her not to get too friendly with the cats. We kept fish, but they ate each other up. Many other dogs ran amok in the compound and my dogs would take off randomly, to the beach. We had direct access to the beach, which was also an invitation for more wild dogs.
One day the kids ran in, highly excited. There was a gaggle of them kids. (I felt so proud looking at my dirty haired, filthy nailed, muddy faced kids..!!) In her tiny hands, my daughter had a small baby parrot, looking all disoriented and bewildered. We immediately fashioned a large basket, tied up at four ends, looped up the rope and hung it high on our, open-to-sky balcony. We were reluctant to close the bird in a cage. It was a fledgling, could barely fly, and we all feel in love.
Nippy (for he loved to nip at my gold earrings) soon grew, as did the blood lust of my younger dog, Teddy. When we realised he could fly, but could not stay up for too long, we had to put him in a cage.
For flying practice, Nippy was taken to our closed living room and left to experiment. He would flutter, rise to the ceiling, try to sit on the fan (switched off obviously) and then land on my shoulder, climb up my neck and nip my earrings. We were both in love with each other.
Soon Nippy was desperate to fly all the time. We all wanted Nippy to be one with the wild, and so we started leaving the cage door open. Until one day I saw something, which had my heart beating in my mouth, and my knees as weak as a limp cucumber. Nippy would step out of his cage and stand on the door, giving the skies a good, once over. Teddy would place himself strategically right under the door of his cage. He would smack his lips and then hang his jaw open. Just hoping that the bird would fall into it. At this point Teddy made direct eye contact with the bird. Open mouthed and slack jawed I moved closer and saw the little bird’s heart beating wildly in panic. His little beasts were moving as rapidly as a flag in high winds. I promptly shooed the dog away to the other side of the house and had him kept with the watchman. I had nightmares of waking up one day, and seeing small birdy feathers and a few bones on my balcony, and Teddy sitting in a corner and looking like – well like – a dog, who has swallowed a bird.
One day Nippy was gone. I admit I looked hard at Teddy, opened his jaw and checked, and all that, but apparently, Nippy had flown his (makeshift) nest! Teddy was bereft for days.
We have since shifted, kids have grown, so have the dogs, but I still look for Nippy across the skies when I hear parrots every morning. Teddy of course had plenty of wild dreams, when he would smack his lips and paw the air, thinking he had killed that damn unreachable bird.
The gaggle of them kids, have grown. Some become film heroines, some doctors, and my kids still have fond memories of those wild days.