Friday, March 17, 2017

PRECIOUS BABY (1990 -1996)

The purest form of love is surely one that is given spontaneously without any expectation of reciprocation or reward. This love brings about joy and happiness to the giver, and the receiver.
A child not knowing what love means feels safe and secured when pampered with love by the mother. Likewise, this same love when showered on families, friends, neighbours, and even pets, can have the same positive effects.

Painful scars
I look upon life as a package, stacked up with piles of events and emotions. Painful scars are often set aside, as recollections would bring about more pain and regrets. I went through such pain in the 90s. Thus, for more than 2 decades this segment of my memory box was kept sealed. I now compel myself to write this long overdue eulogy. She was a unique soul that brought immense joy into our home for 6 fleeting years. Yet, the impact she left behind is unimaginable! 

Her arrival
We assumed that she was a female by her mannerism, but it was immaterial. We loved her just the same like our very own, and we named her ‘Babe’. Her arrival in the year 1990 was by pure coincidence. My husband was at Peel Road in Kuala Lumpur City to have our car checked. He then spotted a homeless man carrying a garbage bag approaching his direction. From inside the bag came a screeching noise that sounded exactly like a printer. To his surprise, it was the cry of a hungry newly hatched bird. Apparently, the nest had fallen from a nearby tree. Touched by what he saw, he offered the man money and brought home the little birdie for our daughter and I, to care for.

I had earlier been attached to this sweet little angel (right) that strangely came tapping at the glass window of my office. It was a baby swallow that I nursed and tended to, for two weeks. Sadly, it died and I was extremely distraught.  

Understandably, I would not get attached to any new bird. For several days my daughter and our helper nursed and fed baby.  Finally, the day came when she caught my eye and instantly babe won my heart.

A talking bird
She grew up pretty fast.  One day, I was seated on the balcony of our home and heard a male voice saying “Hello Baby”. I was shocked as it sounded exactly like my husband’s voice but he was nowhere nearby. To my utter disbelief, the voice came from Babe who was several feet away from me. We had no idea until then that she was a talking bird and could imitate exactly any sound that fascinated her. She was a specie known as the Indian Mynah  (Wikipedia)

A family addition
Baby became a new family addition – pampered and adored by everyone. We built an aviary in our garden, where she was free to fly during the day.  We would rotationally spend time with her there in her own environment. She really enjoyed her favourite unrestricted daily meals of fruits and meats.

Many times, baby escaped from her aviary, to venture into the greens to experience life in the outside world. The next morning, we found her perched on a nearby tree ready to fly into my open arms. Finally, after having spent a night in a severe thunderstorm, she ventured no more even when the door was opened.  She knew that this was her haven and within dwelled the family who adored her.
   
Baby was unusually possessive and protective of her family and territory. Only family members could enter her aviary and private room. A friend who once barged into her room was bitten by her and she refused to let go until I pacified her.
Baby assumed that she was a human. When exposed to other birds even one of her own kind she was totally disinterested.

Happy years  
Happy years flew by and baby enjoyed our company, vice versa. She would join in our conversations with her laughs as though she understood what we were talking about. The house was filled with her endless mimics, joyous cackles, and cheeky whistles. She enjoyed listening to music and was especially excited with classics and operas especially those sung by Pavarotti. She would often duet with me and knew exactly when to punctuate her whistles in between songs. I have many videos of her with me. Although these are still painful to view, I promise myself that I will soon upload them.

The very first time when I played the song (below) from my album, she was extremely excited, and she knew that it was the voice of her "mama". Thereon, this song became her favourite.


Visitors to our home were entertained by her humour and awed by her intelligence. Babe was the centre of attention wherever she went – on holidays with us, to the seas, hill resorts, etc. She was not left behind and although in a cage she knew that this was not to confine but to protect her.

It amazed me that on her own she would call out “hello mama” each time she saw me and no one taught her to say so. She would repeatedly call our daughter by her name and missed her terribly when she was at school. Her mimic of my husband’s voice fondly calling out “hello baby” left him amused and spellbound. She was more human than we could ever imagine.

Whilst observing babe and everything around me, I felt truly blessed to be a minute speck of the Infinite Creations of the One and Only Creator of the Universe.

Animal shelter
Thereon, many lost souls found their way into our home – dogs, cats, squirrels, different species of birds, a rabbit, even a snake, and a peacock.  We called the Wild Life department to take away the last two to a safer environment. Not that we were living in a remote jungle. Our home was surrounded by other houses, yet they never had such visitors. Perhaps these visitors knew that here they would be safe and cared for. For many years we sustained an animal shelter for the injured, the lost, and the abandoned.

Her departure
We then moved house and here Babe did not have her own aviary. The house did not seem safe to leave her alone in the garden and with the noise she made it could attract poachers. Instead, a room in the house was kept specially for her and she was just as happy here. 

One year after moving into our new home, on several occasions we heard Baby coughing and assumed that she was imitating someone’s cough. In actuality, birds too can be infected with cough and I blamed myself for my ignorance. I then appeased myself that life and death were not mine to dictate or predict. Every soul comes to this world for a purpose, serves the allocated life span, and eventually leaves.  

The last farewell
On that fateful morning in the year 1996, baby was extremely quiet and delirious. There was no “hello mama” greeting or cheeky whistle when we came out from our rooms. When I held her I could feel that there was no more warmth in her body. Despondent we were, we knew that the time had come for her to leave.

She could hear the loving words that my husband, daughter, and I whispered in her ears but could reciprocate no more. After a short while she moved slightly, tilted her head as though to bid us farewell and in the same familiar flying position, her soul gently left us. With heavy hearts we laid her to rest under a tree at our patio. 

Epilogue
The pain in losing baby never goes, although more than 20 years have gone by. Wherever Babe is, she will know that she was precious and irreplaceable and that we miss her extremely to this very day.

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