The soporific voice of the teacher droned on, seemingly oblivious to her students’ unseeing gazes. Time seemed to stand still in the class room, as the air hung, oppressive in its lifelessness. Suddenly a bell pealed, ringing in a sense of freedom, and children rushed out, their clamours and shouts drowning out the teacher’s voice as she designated the day’s homework.
The cries of little children romping about filled the air, their laughter singing aloud with Nature. The grass below their feet seemed to spring up with them, enlivened by their sparkling humor. As bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as them, squirrels skipped about the trees that bordered the park. The school building loomed up above them, ‘touching the sky!’ as they claimed.
The sun shone down on a thousand smiling faces, unitedly carefree. Amidst the cheerful visages, one stood apart, singularly earnest in its docility. A little girl with a shock of black hair, vivid against her pale face, stood in a corner, alone – the proverbial lone wolf. Her tiny fingers clutched at a sandwich, as she nibbled on it, seemingly intimidated by the huge crowd – more the rabbit, than the wolf.
Suddenly, a ball of fluff hurtled towards the little figure, landing at her feet. The girl crouched down by the little yellow body, only to discover it was a bird – a bird that seemed to be hovering above Heaven’s gates. Its wings, an unsettling red, threatened to empty the little girl’s belly. She sat beside it, decisively flinging aside her sandwich.
The bird lay timidly still in the little girls hands, eyes wide open with fear while she trickled water into its beak, all the while, crooning softly. Her hands cupped the bird’s round figure, rocking it gently, as she had seen her Mother do.
The next day, the girl rushed out to her corner by the bushes as the bird attempted to hop out to her. She sat cross-legged beside her feathery friend, sharing her meagre lunch. As the bell rang, summoning the students back inside, the little girl rose and waved shyly to the bird before turning to leave. A sudden gust of wind caused her to turn back and she saw the bird limp back into the bushes, feathers bristled against the wind. She knelt down suddenly, handkerchief pulled out and wrapped it gently over her friend.
Each day saw the two friends seated in a corner, bonding through silences, silences that echoed in their heads long after the bell had chimed adieu. And then, one day, the little girl returned to her corner and no bird came hopping to see her. She stood still for a while, stubbornly holding onto her belief that her friend would come. After a time, she turned away, biting back her tears as a small, yellow feather flew onto her open palms.
tiny fingers curled
around the feather…
a memory –
one to cherish forever