Extraordinary in the ordinary

A feathered tale

Ruffled feathers, not any more. My miniature cockatiels take a peaceful nap as I lap up the news.
Published at International News and Views Corporation.

The day was usual. I got back home late evening post work, unlocked the door, peeped into the hall and called out, “Birdeeezzzzzz!”It was my way of saying hello to my little feathered friends – a pair of male and female bright yellow miniature cockatiels. (For the benefit of Homo sapiens who are not versed with the splendid world of birds, cockatiels are a species of the parrot family, very intelligent and social). The only way to differentiate a male from a female is by judging the shade of the orange patch on their cheeks. The male has a dark orange patch, as bright as the good old orange candy bar, while a lighter shade of orange adorns the female.

To my enthusiastic call “Birdeeeezzzz,” I didn’t receive any response. Never mind! Who says birds cannot be moody. I dunked a ripe pomegranate into their cage and made a hot cuppa of tea. I soon found myself sprawled on our gigantic bean bag. As I gently lifted the cuppa to savour the goodness of ginger and cardamom, I saw that the male cockatiel was scratching itself with its claws and its beak in an unusually frenzied motion.

I thought to myself that by any stretch of imagination, there was nothing unusual about scratching. It is simply body’s reaction to any irritant. Humans, dogs, cows, cats, in fact all terrestrials, arboreal and amphibians scratch. On close scrutiny, however, I soon realized that the cockatiel was in a miserable state. He was exhausting himself by scratching intensely.

That was not good. He should be investing his energy in happier pursuits like playing with the female cockatiel, singing, cleaning, talking to me or even eating. Thoughts of my cockatiel running fever due to lack of treatment began to cross my mind. The last straw on the camel’s back was when my father’s wise words rang in my head, “When in doubt or trouble, don’t think too much. Take action.”

Immediately, I sprung up, disallowing guilt and conscience from getting the better of me. I picked up the cage (which weighs approx. 10 kg), locked the house, scurried down four floor and caught the first auto crossing the road. Thank God for small mercies. The auto driver, a kind and patient man, appreciated that he had to reach the avian veterinary doctor’s clinic as soon as possible because it was clearly a case of Emergency (pun not intended). Just for the record, I keep contact details of all animal care centres, veterinary doctors, avian veterinarians, and animal helpline numbers in my mobile, handy and ready to use, always. You never know when God throws an opportunity for you to do good. And it is my firm belief that we all come across such opportunities every day.

So I reached the clinic of Dr Srinivas Rao, a reliable and experienced vet in Bandra. He took over the situation like a complete pro, and gave his verdict – the male cockatiel was suffering from a skin infection. Wow! Now that was a moment when my Jekyll and Hyde personalities expressed themselves in full form. I was troubled that my poor feathered friend was inflicted with an infection which will take time to go away, would need regular intake of medicines, and the female cockatiel was in danger of contracting it as the infection was contagious. Simultaneously, I felt so pleased that I had brought the cockatiels to the avian vet doctor well in time. The skin infection could be treated comfortably and my cockatiels were saved from actually falling sick because if left untreated, the itching would have spread very fast affecting all organs of the body.

Armed with my able vet’s guidance and my persistence, I cleaned up their entire cage with passion and perfection that I haven’t exhibited for my own room in a long time. To ensure they receive a daily dose of sunlight, I began to wake up at 5am every day, put them out in the balcony, strategically positioning their cage at an angle where the maximum sun rays were likely to fall. I mixed their medicine in their drinking water before leaving for work. And finally, I provided them multi vitamin supplements apart from the regular diet of oil seeds, nuts and fruits. Phew….yes! Maintaining a pet is hard work. After all, pets have the same characteristics as children. They are dependent, attention crazy and utterly lovable.

Two weeks passed since then. I got back home late evening post work, unlocked the door, peeped into the hall and said aloud, “Birdeeeeezzzzzz!” In response, I heard the delightful sounds of whistles, enthusiastic screeches, off and on twitter and lively flapping of wings…..

As for me, I felt my spirits uplifted….tracing their journey from the lowest points of Mariana Trench to the highest point of Mount Chimborazo!

Happiness comes in small packages in life. I believe I unwrapped one of them today.

This article was published at International News and Views Corporation.

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