Roj Ardibehesht Mah Avan, 1381 Yz.
On the following Sunday we got up early and departed for the Ashram in the commissioner’s car and reached there at about 9 am. We introduced the commissioner to the Mahatma, who received him very graciously. We were shocked to hear the Mahatma converse with the commissioner in flawless English! As we started talking, Rustomji inquired about his myna. The Mahatma asked us to walk with him to the verandah of his bungalow. As we entered, we saw the large cage in which the myna had been transported here, with the door of the cage open. The holy one said: ‘Rustomji, your myna is enjoying its new found freedom in this garden, hence the cage is empty. Let us sit here, he will soon be back.’
Comfortable chairs had been placed in the verandah and the three of us sat down, while the Mahatma went to the verandah’s edge and began to look out into the garden, as if searching for someone one.
As he returned and sat down with us, we began talking, and shortly thereafter, the myna came flying across the garden and gracefully landed on the top of its cage.
Her appearance had changed drastically in the last week. The Mahatma informed us that ever since she had come to the orchard, she would fly around the area the whole day, but as night fell she would come up to the cage and rest inside through the night. He then gave us a piece of information that made us all wonder in amazement. The Mahatma said softly: ‘I have good news for you today. The male partner of this myna is scheduled to arrive here from his residence in Bengal very shortly. But before that, I would like you to hear the story of this myna’s life, told in her own words. Please let me know, in which language should the myna speak?‘ As we all had only English as the common language, we requested that English be used. But who had heard of a bird speaking English, or for that matter, any other language?
An attendant appeared and lifted the cage of the myna and placed it in the middle of our seating arrangement. The myna followed, sitting on top of the cage. Soon, another attendant appeared, bearing in his hand a cup fashioned out of leaves. In the cup were very ripe mulberries, which he handed over with great respect to the Mahatma. Smiling enigmatically, the wise one picked up one mulberry, and handed it over to the myna. The myna immediately held the mulberry in her beak and ate it up. In this manner, the Mahatma fed the myna three very ripe mulberries, one after the other. He then began to speak to the myna in Hindi: ‘O gentle one, please narrate the story of your life, capture and imprisonment to these gentlemen assembled here. Please speak to them in English.’
To our great amazement and wonder, the myna turned around to face us, and began speaking in English: ‘In the name of the One and Only God, I begin. Good morning to you Mr. Commissioner, Seth Rustomji and Seth Pirojshah! Listen now to my story: I am a poor myna from Silhat in Bengal [Silhat is an area in the present day Bangladesh.] Close to Silhat was a large wooded area where I used to reside, with my partner and our two chicks. As our chicks we very young, we were always flying around, looking for food to feed their hungry mouths. Slowly but steadily the chicks grew up and were about five to seven days away from learning to fly and begin their own independent lives. To our great misfortune, one day a hunter arrived near the garden and saw our nest. He observed that two chicks were alone and realized that they would fetch a great deal of money in the market. He thereupon began climbing our tree, intent on stealing our chicks.
‘As the scene of horror unfolded before us, both of us decided that it would be better if we gave ourselves up to the hunter, rather than let our chicks get caught. After all, we had lived a good life, whereas the chicks had not even ventured out of the nest. My partner urged that he would get caught and I should stay behind with the chicks and take care of them. But I did not agree with him. I reminded him that as the larger male, he would be more able to protect the young chicks as they set out of the nest and learnt to fly. I therefore implored him to let me get caught and he stay behind to look after our dear chicks. Even though he was most reluctant to agree, my partner saw reason in my arguments, and with tears in his eyes, he agreed for me to be captured by the hunter.
‘Our nest was situated very high up in the tree. I flew to one of the lower branches and sat there, trying to get the attention of the hunter. He saw me, and immediately realized that a fully grown bird was worth a lot more money that two chicks. Who knew whether they would grow up or die? I made a fake attempt to flee, but allowed myself to be captured by the hunter. Happy with his conquest, the hunter stopped going up and instead climbed down the tree. As he reached the ground, he put me in an extremely small cage and began to walk away towards the city. My partner looked down at me from the tree with tears in his eyes. Being separated from my partner and my chicks tore up my heart. How can I explain my pain to you, gentlemen?
‘As the hunter carried me away, my partner blew me his last kiss and salute. With tears in my eyes, I cried out to my mate: ‘Remember my dear, there is a God, and if it be His wish, we shall meet again! Take care of our chicks, farewell, my dear!‘ And gentlemen, indeed there is a God, and it was His wish that I be reunited with my mate, and today, thanks to the good wishes and greatness of the Mahatma, that moment draws near when I will be reunited with him.’
The bird continued: ‘But before that, I must express my greatest thanks to Seth Rustomji, who has, ever since he brought meto his house, has taken great care of me as his own child. But however great care he has taken, a cage is a prison for us free flying birds. We may have the best comfort, but what is life without our freedom? When will you humans learn this simple fact? It is only the Mahatma, and you, Seth Pirojshah, who have understood our pain and torture. It was on your saying, O Pirojshah, that Rustomji had a larger cage made for me. After I was transferred to the larger cage, my life was made much better. For that, Pirojshah, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have great love and affection for us birds. May that love and affection always remain in your heart, and may it grow even further!
‘Finally, I bow down my head at the feet of the great wise one, the Mahatma, who has, through his power and piety, managed to get my mate over here. Soon we will be reunited and soon we shall go back to our native village. And we shall reach safely there, only due to the piety and radiance of the Mahatma. Hail to you, O Holy One!’ Saying this, the myna flew to where the holy one was sitting and reached down near his feet and placed its head on the ground, bowing in front of its benefactor and savior!
[to be continued…]
I wish a very happy and radiant Jamshedi Navroze to all readers of Frashogard! May this incredible story warm your heart and arouse the love of the Lord in all of you!
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram