Life had been gushing like a stream in those days when my age had not crossed thirteen. Among my family’s young members, I was the worried one. Worried about my future. The future that I wanted for myself.
My parents thought that I was crazy. My brothers and sisters thought that I was an idiot. My teachers thought that I wanted to escape my class work.
When most children spent long hours bent over their books my mind would drift into the woods often dragging me behind. The woods bordered our town. A small river bordered the woods. A wide pond was there in the middle of the woods. Lotus bloomed all over the pond.
The woods always lured a wide spectrum of visitors.
Some came in search of food- fruits, nuts and honey. Some came to hunt. They wanted to catch fish or lay traps to catch parrots. Some people are so selfish and greedy that ignorance and indifference had overcome their common sense. Careless are they who shout and sing loudly, beating drums, in the woods that embody nature’s harmony. More people bear no thought about the river and pond turning into waste stores.
Meanwhile I used to go into the woods in search of a bird. A mystical bird.
A bird that flies all over the world among all woods big and small.
Once I had heard a very sad song by a bird. It had come from a garden near the woods. A song from a broken heart of a wounded soul. But I could not see the bird. This had happened about two years ago.
I told my grandma about this unseen bird that was weeping for some unknown reason.
“Ask the reason to the bird. It will hear you even if you can’t see it.” She said.
Believe me, one day I was resting under a mango tree in our urban forest and I heard a bird sing. Why should the bird be so mournful when the tree was overladen with ripe mangoes on every branch? I decided to move around the woods to find out the bird and discover the reason for the sadness in its tweets.
But the bird was not anywhere to be seen. Not high up the tall trees not hidden by the thick foliage. The wet ground had not collected unique feathers. Was I searching for an invisible bird? A life unreal?
Waiting for the unhappy voice to echo among the trees one day I received a shock in the form of another sound.
Flutter of wings!
As if a bird had alighted briskly on the branch of a tree that was there in front of me. The leaves shook suddenly and had become motionless in a few seconds. The branch jerked once. Everything was quiet; soon.
My mind raced with time trying to sense if an invisible creature was there, that might have seen me.
“Who are you? Where are you? I want to see you. I can hear you. My heart tells me that you have come to see me. You wish to tell me something. You can rely on me to help you. Please come to me and tell me why you are sad”.
I began my conversation with a vacant looking branch.
“Worn out remains the earth and the sky
The animals and plants are saying goodbye”
I could hear a song loud and clear.
“Memories of green earth will haunt you
Something right unless the humans do”
The bird was trying to warn us.
Evening was covering the earth and sky in shades of orange and red. Slowly the woods were being enveloped in darkness. My eyes spotted a fiery glow on the tree in front of me.
Was it a glow worm?
Slowly the glow grew and took the form of a bird.
“Waiting was I for a kind soul
To care mother earth from burning whole”
My eyes stayed open that night. I kept wondering about the words of the Fire bird. The bird had wanted me to lead a mission to save the earth. Our next meeting was to happen soon.
The firebird narrated how she would fly from places to places with woods and forests over countries and continents, whenever a tree fell, a forest wiped out or woods caught fire.
Calling out to other lives in the vicinity, she would ask them to escape, but only after each one collected enough seeds which will be taken to the orbit of creation by the seed train.
“The seed train is within the rainbow. Birds fly high with the seeds collected and put them in the seed train. With the animals and plants getting a cruel deal from the humans the quantity of seeds collected is going down. Many centuries later the green colour of the earth may go away if we allow people to exploit nature without preserving some of it. The seed train takes the seeds to the orbit of creation where they remain safe. After long spells of drought anywhere on earth, the rain clouds bring the seeds back to the earth and they sprout when it rains.
But nowadays I worry how many wetlands will remain on earth. Seeds cannot sprout without moist soil. Collecting seeds alone is not going to restore the greenery of the earth. Water is needed for life to thrive.
How can we birds collect water in large quantities? We had asked the elephants to help. But the jumbos were not ready. They were not sure if they could make it. They feared the men and women who used to come to get water from the waterhole bordering the forest and the village. They said that they might be attacked with crackers and they did not want to waste time and energy running for lives. That is why I am looking for kind and sensitive youngsters like you to conserve water.” The firebird flew up singing
“Plant a tree or two
The earth the rain should go into
Seeds are needed and water too
To keep the earth in good green view.”
A lightning ripped across the sky. My thoughts drenched my notebook with my plans to save ponds and rivers. To create action groups for rain water harvesting, cleaning water bodies and to stop wasting water.
It was easy for everyone to nod in agreement. Posters and short films circulated much. More people joined us in our efforts to make the earth greener. Governments actively ensured that development would not be at the cost of lost plants and ponds. We were happy and proud to have been part of the world wide movement to protect mother nature.
World seemed to move along the path of hope. More trees and rivers survived the changing times. The earth once again began to change into green, slowly.
This was the future I had wanted for me, the future I had wanted for our earth. A safe and peaceful future.
A couple of years had gone by and why was I not meeting the firebird? I grew anxious.
It was a dry sunny afternoon. Soon the sky faded and a wind blew in a few dark clouds. It drizzled for some time. Then a rainbow showed itself gently over the horizon.
My eyes filled with glee when the firebird alighted on top of a lamp post beside me.
“Only to see you I’ve come
To bid farewell it is time.
The last train to earth goes back
With no seeds collected in a pack”
We had wanted a world that would sustain itself. My questions seemed to go unheard as the fire bird chirped with no pause.
“We have now seen that to award any creation with the bliss of existence every life should allow coexistence. No more species should go extinct. Such devastations could be prevented if humans would care about nature and why should there be seed trains any more. We leave earth to earthlings.”
What more was there to learn? This was the most important lesson of survival.
My gaze went skywards.
The rainbow had vanished.