Zen Questa VII

They frantically searched all around but to no avail as the parrot had flown out of their hands. This was something they had not prepared themselves for. When the cabal had meet near the village well the previous evening, they had talked at length about the things they would be doing in the town, once they had the parrot in their possession. Everything was alright when they had planned out the mission to the last detail. You know how kids plan things, don’t you? So, it had happened now. The unanticipated  act of vanishing parrot in the town. One of them cried out “I know this must be the doing of that magician! I never did like his hideous look; his eyes were full of evil and diabolical intentions. He must have made the parrot vanish.” Xandu said angrily “Shut up Zimba! Why did you guys leave the parrot alone in the first place? Its you guys who made a huge mistake of leaving the parrot alone.” Zimba was not someone to let go without putting up a defense and he retorted “Oh, well…tell me who left us in the first place to see that man in the tent? YOU! We just followed you here and for your knowledge we brought the cage with us and the parrot was in there.” Then Yolo seemed to mull over and said “Why, it must be the man in the tent! you see when we ran, he came out to see and then he must have found out the parrot and took it with him. Now we must search for that man. Lets us go and see in that tent.” Xandu chipped in with his idea “Let us not all go inside. You guys wait here as a lookout for anyone coming towards the tent and let me know by a parroty if that is the case”. The “parroty” for the boys was the act of mimicking the parrot’s sound. 

Xandu was standing again near that dark side of the tent which had a slight opening to peer inside. He slipped in after he had made certain that there was nobody. It was all dark inside but for the little light from the lamp posted outside the tent. He stretched his arm and felt the odd piece of cloth lying on the floor. It was their sack! This was certain that the parrot must be with either the woman or the man present inside the tent. He looked around for more clues and found a rumpled handkerchief lying under the wooden cabinet. He went ahead and picked it up but it was sticky and seemed to him like someone had sneezed heavily into it. He dropped it in disgust and looked further for anything of investigative value. There seemed to be nothing that could lead him to the culprits, if it is the suitable term to be used for the duo; when suddenly his vision chanced upon an unlikely place to look for a parrot. The entrance to the tent was covered by a set of cheap and gaudy drapes and just under that drape was an anklet with little multi-colored jewels in it. He picked it up and put it in his tunic pocket. His friends gathered around him in anticipation and looked for some answers. “Did you find anything? …That bag! I told you so” Yolo yelled with excitement. Xandu carefully took out the anklet and showed it to them. They looked at it with curiosity and stood there wondering how to find its owner in this swarm of people that gathered in the town square.

It was dark outside and the sound of chirping crickets resonated wherever the human voices would allow for such freedom. The boys had looked into the other circus tents and around it and they were now wandering on the streets. Then suddenly Xandu broke out “Before we go and stay the night in the inn, we must look at the place where the circus crew is staying. Maybe we get to know someone who knows about the owner of this piece of jewelery.” Zimba was a bit reluctant to agree and hesitated to say anything. He just looked at Yolo for some pitching in of  another idea like – how about forgetting everything and going to the inn for the sleep. His father had instructed him to meet a friend of his at the town and ask him to arrange for a place where the boys could stay. They had not done that because of the stolen parrot and now he was in the danger of being questioned upon his return. The questioning usually followed by some slaps and an occasional kick on his hind quarter. That was the dreaded part of the questioning he really did not want to happen. Yolo looked at Zimba for the some reaction and didn’t say a word. Xandu berated both of them with his words – “You are chickening out…aren’t you? I mean this was supposed to be a fun game not an act of robbery. We all agreed that the parrot would return back to the owner after we are done with our thing. Now look at you two…I really feel like spitting on your faces right now.” He stopped for a moment and started his rant again -” Alright, I will search alone and you two can go wherever you want. I will return when I find something. Do not wait for me. You deserters.” There was a dead silence after he had finished speaking; when Yolo spoke with a bit of indignation in his voice “You think you are the brave one? We never said anything. Do not put words in our mouth. I will go with you wherever you want and I am not going to weasel out of this situation just because you think so.” Zimba looked miserably at both of them. He didn’t tell but he was shaking quite a bit in the lower part of his body and then he peed in his pajamas standing right there on the road. He couldn’t control it. You could not blame the poor chap. He was the youngest of the three at eleven and Yolo was the eldest who was a full ten and a five. 

They had let him go to the house of his father’s friend. It was alright as the two of them really felt as a team without the ‘little liability’ being dragged around everywhere they went. They now stood outside the periphery of the place where the circus crew was staying. One of them would have to be sneaky enough to find the woman without being caught. Xandu needed no prodding and he offered to do the job himself. Yolo would back him up in case something looks queer or out of place. Soon enough, the luck shined on them and Xandu heard some voices coming out from a little tent just across the place he was standing. It was a woman’s voice that betrayed the emotion of distress and sadness. She was telling someone about something dear to her that was now lost. He moved closer and heard it clearly now. This was the place they were looking for and now were standing just outside it. He moved his hand in through the vent on the side and said “Is this what you were looking for?” The women gave a shriek and jumped out of the bed. One had landed quite ungracefully on her bottom with legs swaying wildly in the air. They recovered pretty quickly from the shock as they saw the anklet hanging from a hand in the vent. It was a little boy’s hand. They asked him to come inside through the door and Xandu was standing in front of them in no time. She wanted to take the anklet from him but he would not. Xnadu said “I will give you this if you tell me where is my parrot?” The woman seemed to be confused by his question and asked “What parrot?”. Now, Yolo was also standing near the tent but he stayed outside and listened to their conversation. 

Xandu said “You think I am a fool? I know you have a parrot in a cage with you which belongs to us.” The women looked at the boy in amazement and wondered if he was alright. “Are you alright, child? Where are your parents?” Xandu was now a bit frightened and a chill ran down his body. He gathered himself and said “You give me my parrot and I give you what is yours.” The woman smiled at him and said “But you just said ‘our parrot’ a while ago. Are your parents with you?” Xandu lied and affirmed it to be true. “Then, where are they? Why are you out alone at night?” She asked. “Its none of your business. You just give me my parrot and take you jewelery back.” Xandu was getting impatient, more than he was scared. Yolo was wondering if he would stand outside like this for the rest of the night and listen to them questioning back and forth. The women were now silent and Xandu changed his tone to that of pleading “Please, ladies give my parrot to me.”

“Ladies?!” They both said. “Nobody calls us that” and the they giggled with their hands covering their mouth. Xandu was getting nervous now and Yolo felt like an idiot who stood half bent outside listening to everything. The woman said “Look, I do not have your parrot.” Xandu blurted out “Then the man has it! The man who was with you in the tent.” The woman gave him a wearied look and said “What are you talking about?” He described the man and said that he was with her at the given time. Xandu asked “How can you forget a man who likes to breast feed? You gave him the milk!” The women broke out into a laughter and were catching on to the stuff to keep them from falling. Finally they gained control of themselves and looked at the blushing boy who was cherry red with either rage or because of the plain embarrassment that he had caused upon himself. The woman said “So, that parrot is yours?” Xandu said in an exasperated tone “yes…would you tell me where it is? The man?” The woman looked at him and said “Give me my anklet and I tell you where to find him…” She was about to say something when abruptly Yolo was thrown in with a gust of rushing wind from outside and a mean looking man entered the tent just behind him. They were caught.

Continued…

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