Diya scrubbed the table top, removing the stains and crumbs with considerable effort, hobbling on her disabled foot.

‘Thank you for letting me work here, Bhaiyya, the birds are so affectionate’ she declared cheerfully, ‘they don’t laugh at my leg at all’

Bhillu smiled; the overwhelming animal stench, the constant fear of his employer and the police, did not allow him appreciate the beauty of these exotic birds. He just wanted them quiet, healthy and out of his way!

He was no nature lover; just that he could not go back to the village defeated by the city!

Underage for the fast paced but fun job at the tea-stall; this illegal trade in exotic birds was an option for illegal young boys like him – giving him an intoxicating feeling of being dark and adult.

But the missing birds- loss of many lakhs! He feared the merciless thrashing!

The cages were secure and locked! It was a mystery! He decided to ask Diya about them.

Dragging her cripple leg behind her, her laughter filling the crumbling room ‘they flew away, they look beautiful flying free- I love them so much I set them free’

He stood, locked in fear and gloom!

Sheila Bhattacharya

Mumbai / Jan 2019

Google-pics for the photo


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