Born To Fly - A Disruption Of Basic Right
by Sarina Pradhan
I was four years old when I heard a parrot say “hello” and was absolutely stunned in the ability of a bird to speak a human language. My neighbour had a caged parrot named Meera for their little daughter. Like most other parrots, she was a beautiful emerald green bird with a reddish orange beak. Meera’s foster family had taught her basic greetings and salutations. Their little daughter would have her meals in front of Meera’s cage. She was a source of entertainment for the kid.
As years passed by, I noticed that my friend was no longer interested in the parrot. She loved her but Meera’s significance in her life had reduced drastically. Meera’s role in her foster family reduced to a mere ornament that was meant to be admired and appreciated by the visitors of the family. Whereas, Meera felt lonely, confused, anxious, bored and depressed. When the family used to talk to her, she experienced the warmth of companionship. But gradually, that faded as everyone got busy with the activities of their day to day life. Everyone in Meera’s foster family had something or the other to do which kept them busy apart from Meera. Her whole life was spent in a cage. She had no friends. She never met her mother. She cried when she saw the other birds flying freely in the sky. She had wings just like her other friends but alas this gift from God was wasted in a small cage. As she grew older, she no longer left loved by the family. They only interacted with her while feeding her. When the family went for vacation, we decided to keep Meera with us for a few days. That was the time when I realised how wrong this whole idea of caging birds are.
Just imagine how you would feel if you were sent to prison without committing crime and being kept there for the rest of your life. You are in a tiny cell where you can hardly sit up straight and you get to eat the same meal twice a day for the rest of your life. You have no source of entertainment and you can never see your family ever again. You ask yourself the question WHY AM I HERE? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS? Birds in cages experience the same resentment but alas they can’t speak for themselves.
Most of these caged birds are separated from their mothers since birth, they are smuggled in tiny boxes or plastic bottles or even suitcases and brought to countries far away from their natural habitat. Then they are kept in tiny cages and sold to the wholesaler in the bird market. They wait half of their life cramped up in tiny cages with 100 other birds in it. Most of them die here due to suffocation and exhaustion. Some of them get picked up by customers who buy them and take them home. Here starts their journey from one cage to another which is akin to moving from a frying pan to fire. They need love but they don’t get any. They don’t know how to fly because they were snatched from their nest. They lack the natural instinct to search for food or protect themselves from danger because they were never given the opportunity to be taught about survival by their mothers. They spend their entire lives in a small cage. Out of loneliness and depression they end up plucking their own feathers. They make frantic cries for help but alas their foster families are totally ignorant about their mental well-being.
A bird symbolises freedom. Freedom to spread their wings and fly up and above the clear blue sky. freedom to wander about anywhere their instinct guide them, freedom to explore faraway lands and countries. But we think only about ourselves. For the sake of our entertainment we cage such beautiful creatures and keep them as a showpiece in our homes. Many exotic birds are caged and sold in India. The climate of India is not conducive for the survival of these birds due to which they suffer from various ailments. Their foster parents are ignorant about such diseases resulting in the death of such creatures.
Meera represents innocuous caged birds, desperately waiting to spread their wings and fly off from the shackles of human imposed captivity. Through this article, I would like to encourage the law makers of this country to ban the sale of birds and make stringent laws against the same. I would like to urge people to free their pet birds from their cages. Let these beautiful, vibrant creatures of our biodiversity who are born to fly experience this natural God gift. Please don’t buy birds for your amusement. I hope that people understand that it is wrong to cage birds and take away their basic freedom from them.
It has been long since we shifted from the locality where Meera used to live with her foster family. Sometime back, I visited our old neighbourhood just to see if I could hear Meera’s “hello” again. I see an empty cage in my old neighbour’s veranda. I am unsure whether Meera died or they released her. But I pray that she gets to live another life as a free bird flying up and above in the clear blue sky. ***