Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Other Halves

(Inspired by another blogpost I chanced upon)

She looked down at her baby sister, smiling as she noted the excitement in her eyes. Only a gawky thirteen-year-old could be so excited about a visit to the local fair. Oh, the sweet little pleasures of innocent youth!

Clasping didi’s hand firmly, she looked around, scanning the place in wonder. Every other day of the year, this same field would have meant nothing but a sea of grass to her, a sight all too common. But tonight the place was abuzz with activity. Merry-go-rounds, car-rides, food-shops, handicraft stores, stalls selling everything from pins to clothes – you name it. Her eyes settled on a pet store. She tugged at her elder sister’s hand. “Didi, buy me a bird from there!”

It was impossible to say no to those big, expressive eyes. Didi had to oblige. She made her way towards the store, and her eyes widened in awe as she saw row after row of colourful feathers. Doves, parrots, exotic birds that she couldn’t even name. It was a riot of colours – a show of beauty.

“How much for this one?” she asked, pointing to a lovely little parrot at a corner of the shop. “Seven fifty”, came the reply.  She counted the money in her purse - it added up to 600. “You can have this one for 600”, said the shop owner, pointing to an almost identical bird beside the one she had picked. “It’s the other one’s sister, but it has a scar on the left wing. That’s why I can give it to you at a lower price.” She happily claimed her latest possession. Her sister would be so happy.

She turned around to show it to her, and in a moment of panic, realized she wasn’t there.  She had left her hand to count the money, and now she didn’t know where she was. She rushed back to the shop. “Have you seen my little sister?”, she asked the shopkeeper in desperation. “She is thirteen, about this tall?” The man shook his head. She turned in consternation and saw the growing crowd, her heart in her mouth.  She walked around, looking for her in any place possible, but there were too many people and too many places to search. Where could she have gone?

She screamed out her name, but to no avail. “Someone must have taken her away”, she thought to herself, the tears welling in her eyes. She felt like the sky had come crashing down on her shoulders. Just then a shrill enthusiastic voice came from behind her. “Didi, you bought a parrot! Its wonderful!”

She turned back to see her staring up at her, with the biggest smile on her face. She screamed as she hugged her tight, laughing and crying at the same time. The sense of relief was overwhelming. Without another word, she picked her up and left for home, not for a moment allowing her sister out of her sight.

That night, she climbed up to the roof of her house, her newly acquired parrot in her hands. Without any hesitation, she let the bird free. It flew away instantly, never looking back, almost as if it knew precisely where it wanted to go. She sighed in relief, knowing a weight had been lifted off her. She made her way downstairs to her room. Her sister was fast asleep. She climbed into bed, and threw her arms around her little sister as she closed her eyes, praying her parrot would find its sister too.