Zen Questa V

The boy must have been a month older than twelve or so. He switched glances and smiled mischievously at his friends. They started to walk towards their destination. After negotiating the dusty and curly path strewn with stones and pebbles of all sizes and kinds, they came upon a large opening among the huts that made up the village. Sure enough they hurried through it and made their way towards the main road that will take them to the nearby town of Dvipur. There was a buzz in the village that a circus is visiting that town and the lads were all eager to go and watch the magicians, the jugglers, the gymnasts, the elephants, the lion tamers and of course the quintessential jokers. To an unobservant passerby, the kids just seemed to be strolling around and were not gearing up for any act of transgression. To a prying eye, however, there was something going on behind the facade of nonchalance and unmindful walk. Their movements were anything but dull.  There was a hidden intent of doing something unwarranted. 

As they passed by a fairish cottage just around the corner, they began to mimic the sound of a parrot. A few moments passed when the answer came from the little tree inside the courtyard. This was the house of the caged pet parrot, which perched in a cage hanging on the lowest branch. It was an ordinary piece of metal cage, nothing fancy or anything extraordinary to marvel about. However, the bird inside it was the talk of the village. It would regale the audience at the bar with its mimicry and strange walking style. It was the local celebrity and the pride of the owner. The high noon was making the boys sweat and they slowly sidled out to the shady area which abut the rear wall of the house. One of the boys slipped a hand and grabbed the top of the wall to climb over. He managed to look into the courtyard whilst standing on the back of another boy. He peeked inside for any activity or a watchful eye intent on keeping the mischievous elements out. Not a stone moved and everything seemed to lay still. Those inside the house were either inside having a siesta or had been out on a journey.

Usually, people avoided going out in the scorching summer heat until and unless some pressing commitment demands their presence somewhere. The parrot eyed the boy with a curious look and was suspicious of their intentions. He moved around restlessly and fluttered his wings in the cage. The boy jumped inside and looked around if anyone noticed. Once he was assured of complete privacy, he helped the others scale the wall and jumped inside to the part of the courtyard that was in all probability a kitchen garden. The three boys were now inside the house and were slowly walking close to the tree. The parrot was silent now and was inspecting the uninvited guests who seemed to harbor dubious intentions. The boys stood there watching the bird and then smile at each other. Then, one of them put a hand in his tunic pocket and drew out a long red chili pepper. On a second thought, he dug into his  side pockets and this time he presented the parrot with a little mango. The greed slowly began to overtake the parrots suspicion and finally he succumbed to the delicacy being presented. Xandu slowly inserted the mango through the little door in the front of the cage and stepped back. The parrot first rolled the fruits with its claws and looked back at the boys. He, then proceeded to open his gift and enjoy the pulp with all its juicy glory.

After he had finished his little fruit, the parrot was all eager to know his new friends and he tried to thrust open his cage door. The boys knew its intention and moved cautiously towards it. Then with a slight force he opened up the little door and moved his index finger daintily inside the cage. The parrot at first hesitated and then moved a bit away from the finger. Xandu drew out the chili from the pocket with his other hand  and gently inserted it in the cage. The bribery seemed to work as the parrot jumped right away on the red pepper and was nibbling it away with its arched beak. They had won his confidence and now it was just a matter of time before the parrot was in their keeping. Finally, the parrot waved off the pretense of wariness and landed on the boy’s extended finger. The boys carefully picked up his cage and covered it with the cloth they had brought. It fitted the cage almost perfectly. They jumped outside the house with their prize and walked hastily towards the road that lead to Dvipur; lest somebody notices something unusual about them. They had the stolen the celebrity parrot!



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