My grandmother’s sisters would leave pieces of last night’s leftover roti out in the front courtyard for him. Sometimes they’d leave some seeds or fruit. He’d come every evening at the same time and pick at the food. But that’s not why he came.
He came for her.
She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. The emerald-green curve of her wings, the turquoise-blue ribbon of her tail feathers, the orange-red coral of her beak. It’s like she was made of jewels and gems. And her sweet voice – it was the wine that intoxicated him day after day, calling him back to that same place.
Every day, he came to sit on her white metal cage. He’d wheedle and whistle through the bars, calling her, singing to her, loving her. He’d ruffle his feathers, spread out his green wings to show her how handsome and strong he was, what a worthy husband he’d make. And in response, she’d sing for him too, with that wine-like voice.
They’d click beaks, him reaching down into her cage, her stretching up through the bars. He’d fly away and come back again the next evening, day after day.
One day, she got sick. In a few days, she died. They buried her in the garden. But he came back, every evening at the same time, whistling at her empty cage, hoping she’d come back, hoping she was just hiding.
He was a bird of freedom, living in the wild, flying at will from tree to tree. She was a pampered housepet, a thing of beauty to be enjoyed. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. But they still loved…with songs and flutters, caged kisses and dreams.
Eventually he stopped coming when his heart finally realized his raani wasn’t coming back.
True story about the totaa who came to visit my grandmothers’ sisters’ totee every day.
Totaa – a male parrot. this kind is found wild in the Indian subcontinent and are caught and sold as pets.
Totee – a female parrot
Raani – Queen