It was like any normal week day. It was about 8.30am when our neighbours scrambled to leave for work. As usual, our parking lot was bustling with activity — vehicle owners and drivers trying to move out quickly. They did not want to get stuck in the office-hour jam on the roads.
However, that day, they did get immobilised, albeit briefly, within our housing complex itself. So many automobiles and so little parking space, you know! Two-wheeler riders, though, were able to meander their way through the maze of bigger vehicles.
Our neighbour T.P. Singh was also in a tearing hurry because he had to drop his five-year-old daughter Pinky at her school before the prayer started. The pretty little girl being a music buff at a tender age had won a place in the school choir. Pinky was so passionate about her singing that she had never missed a prayer.
She got the nick name because she looked like a pink doll. The short-statured girl’s contagious smile and pleasing mannerism had made her the darling of all, both in her school and in our housing complex. Pinky had always been punctual. In a role reversal that day, the girl, fearing she might get late, forced her father to rush down to the parking lot to take her to school at the earliest.
She virtually pushed him into the driver’s seat. However, just when she was about to step in, she noticed an unusual activity up in a tree. A wild grey pigeon was struggling to free itself from a tree branch. One of its legs had got entrapped in the crisscrossed strong shoots. It seemed that the more the bird tried to free itself, the more the grip tightened. The pigeon hung upside down flapping its wings all the while.
The girl was appalled at the sight. She forgot that she had to reach her school within minutes. She shouted at the top of her voice: “Save that pigeon please ... somebody please come forward, otherwise it will die.” As the bird flapped its wings, the little girl became almost hysterical. She looked at the onlookers, but nobody bothered.
Another pigeon, presumably its mate, hopped from one branch to another, as if awaiting help. A few persons casually watched the goings on briefly and then moved away unconcerned. Insensitivity and apathy were in full play. On the other hand was this little girl.
Her father also advised her to leave the rescue mission to others and rush to school. But she ignored it. Saving the helpless bird was her priority then. Pinki broke down and started crying loudly. This time, her appeal was heeded. Evidently, onlookers were moved more by the cries of the girl than by the plight of the poor pigeon that was struggling for life.
I saw two drivers deciding to rescue the trapped pigeon. One of them managed a big stick, climbed up the boundary wall and repeatedly hit the branch to release the bird, but it did not help. Pinki’s cries grew louder. By now, quite a crowd was watching the tantalising drama. And then one big hit did it.
The pigeon fell on the ground. Everybody shouted in joy. Pinki was ecstatic. Some rushed towards it to give it the required aid.
But then there was the anti-climax. Before anybody could pick up the rescued pigeon, a cat came running from nowhere, grabbed it and ran away.
There was shock and disbelief. Those watching tried to shoo away the feline, hoping to retrieve the pigeon. But that was not to be. Holding the poor creature in its jaws, the cat disappeared with the same stealth it had shown while appearing.
Little Pinki was totally shattered. The pigeon was not her pet; it was just one of the many that keep crisscrossing the skies and come to roost on our sun shades, on window air-conditioners and other projected structures. Yet, the entrapment of the unknown creature had touched Pinki’s heart.
Pinki did not go to school that morning. She only cried, sobbed and then fell silent.
Lalit Raizada is a journalist based in India.