Saturday, January 22, 2011

Caged Bird

One of my mother's first blog entries was this reminiscent article about how we acquired our pet parrot Sankaran. My sister, as a kid, wrote a little story based on an imagined conversation between Sankaran and a wild parrot outside, that was published several years ago in a popular children's magazine.
Today, as I flipped aimlessly through the offerings of an online digital library, I came across this poem from Tagore's translation of  "The Gardener", and was struck by how similar it was to the subject of my sister's tale. She had no exposure to Tagore's writings at that age, but came by her story from simple observation of our parrot and his calling out to wild parrots outside.

"THE tame bird was in a cage, the free bird was in the forest.
They met when the time came, it was a decree of fate. 

The free bird cries, " O my love, let us fly to wood." 
The cage bird whispers, " Come hither, let us both live in the cage." 

Says the free bird, " Among bars, where is there room to spread one's wings ? " 
"Alas," cries the cage bird, "I should not know where to sit perched in the sky." 

The free bird cries, " My darling,sing the songs of the woodlands." 
The cage bird says, " Sit by my side, I'll teach you the speech of the learned." 

The forest bird cries, " No, ah no ! songs can never be taught." 
The cage bird says, " Alas for me,I know not the songs of the woodlands." 

Their love is intense with longing,but they never can fly wing to wing. 
Through the bars of the cage they look, and vain is their wish to know 
each other. 

They flutter their wings in yearning,and sing, " Come closer, my love ! " 

The free bird cries, " It cannot be, I fear the closed doors of the cage." 
The cage bird whispers, " Alas, my wings are powerless and dead." 
Here is Suchitra Mitra's rendition of the Rabindra Sangeet version of the above song.

*Suchitra Mitra, a longtime exponent of Rabindra Sangeet, died earlier this month, at the age of 86.

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