“Why can’t it all be simple?” thought the little bird as he slowly rocked on the middle branch of the old tree, surrounded by a thousand chirping mates.
The restless chirping drove the little guy crazy. The chirping carried talks about new trees that were discovered that day, about heroic quests of gathering food and atrocious tales of gangs finding perfectly clean cars and pooping all over them. Some of these birds even managed to aim and poop on human heads. Amidst these talks, he also heard emptiness crumbling in stomachs and the curses that followed.
The little bird sighed and went back to his thoughts. The branch had been his home for as long as he could remember. He had found this place long ago, after his family had been separated from him following a severe thunderstorm. Though it was a comfortable spot that guaranteed protection from rain and snow, he never really accepted it as his home. It was a house—yes—but not his home.
The chirping was one thing that pushed him away from the place.
He was not the talking kind. He loved to be with himself. He loved pondering over things that were greater than bird-talk. He never found real joy in his flights as long as it was a part of the quests for food. He hated pooping on cars and never even bothered to aim his poop over random humans. He liked life to be quiet. He liked life to be higher than aiming one’s poop.
He wanted to establish a simplified theory through which he could understand life. But no matter how hard he tried, he found life to be complex. He was interested in diving deep into the subtleties and finding the real purpose of his being. He had heard from his ancestors that being a bird was the highest boon. He had even heard that God had created him in his own form. He often pictured God as a mighty golden bird flying high and aiming his golden rear at random birds. The little bird, in his tiny head, had often thought of golden poop falling over his fellow mates. He smiled with a doubt at the thought—would God’s poop be a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe it depended on what God had for lunch.
But then there was another thought. Maybe God was not like the other birds. He might not have the need to put neither good nor bad poop over his people. After all he was God. And if God had to take decisions and work just like the creatures down here, what was the point in being God?
And if God was meant to work, it would just be like being his friend from the city who lived in a golden cage. His friend had everything he wanted—except for his right to fly free.
But no matter what image of God the little guy chose, he still was left with the question of his own purpose. He knew there was something higher than this routine he followed. He knew there was something higher than this old tree. But the path to that higher goal was nowhere to be seen.
And then one day something miraculous happened.
When the little bird came back to his branch in the evening, he found it to be occupied by a stranger. It was another bird and he looked different from everything that the little bird had ever seen. He was fluffy with golden feathers aligned as a majestic crown over his head. He was not chirping and sharing his stories but was immensely quiet.
The golden bird now looked into the eyes of the little bird. His face was still. But his eye smiled.
The little bird slowly flew and sat next to him on the same branch.
“This branch belongs to me,” said the little bird in a hushed voice.
“Who says?” asked the stranger in the most silent voice the little fellow had ever heard.
The little fellow found the question to be deeper than it had ever sounded. But his ego avoided any reverence and pushed him to retaliate, and he said, “I say so. I have been living here for a very very very long time.” He let out the third ‘very’ with an elastic force.
The golden bird smiled and asked again, “What if it belonged to me before that?”
The little guy smirked, “Oh! It can’t be. You don’t look that old!”
“Well, I am,” said the golden bird “This branch belonged to me even when this tree was a seed. And it shall be mine even when it goes back to dust.”
“Are you some sort of a king?” asked the little bird innocently. A sense of respect involuntarily leaked out of his voice.
“Well, I am God!”, said the golden bird.
“Do you poop golden?” the little bird had uttered out the words even before he could realize. Embarrassment slithered out from his eyes the very moment.
“I can, if you want me to,” a smile shined on the golden bird’s face.
“I don’t know whether to trust your words or not. But I would like to know why you are here? To claim my little spot? You know I could go live on any other branch I like.”
“And then you’ll find that it is already occupied by me,” said the golden bird.
The little bird looked doubtful. The golden bird sensed this and continued, “Go on. Try it.”
The little bird immediately flew toward the adjacent tree. He looked back as he flew and saw the golden bird sitting there with the same calm. And then as he rotated his head towards the branch he was aiming for, he almost had a seizure! He saw the golden bird already occupying the branch he had pictured in his head.
The golden bird said now, “So, now do you believe me?”
The little bird stuttered with silence. It took a while for him to gather his courage to speak again. He asked, “So, am I homeless now?”
“Well, to be specific, you are free now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean you are free to simplify your life now. There will be no more routine or rules in your life. You don’t have to restrict yourself to a branch now. The world is yours and you can now live realizing this fact.” The golden bird continued, his words echoing, “You were pressurizing your little bird brain with questions that sprang to eternity. You were trying to limit the limitless through little explanations.”
The golden bird was making sense. The little one was now bowed down. He closed his eyes and continued listening to the wisdom that flew out of god’s beak, “Now, you can just be. You can fly free and in every flight feel what it feels like to be me.”
The little bird was filled with immense joy. He was absorbed in the words. Every complexity now melted down to a single, simple thought in his head. He remained in the same position for a very long time.
When he opened his eyes, the golden bird was nowhere to be seen. The little bird didn’t feel sad about his departure. He just smiled and flew out to the sky.
Since that day, the little bird enjoyed every moment of his life. He played with the winds and sang with the rain. All of the earth was his home now. He found food whenever he was hungry and discovered a perfect branch every time he wished to sit down in meditation. He lost track of time. Sometimes, he was in a single moment for eternity. Sometimes eternities flashed before him in a moment.
And then one day as he was resting on a branch deep in meditation, he felt a stare. He turned his head and found a familiar looking bird sitting next to him. “This branch belongs to me,” said the other bird in a hushed voice.
It took a moment for the little bird to recognize his old reflection. It all came rushing back to him. The meaning of life was right there in front of him. He looked around and recognized the old tree. It was now that he noticed the familiar chirping which once used to irritate him. He then looked into the eyes of the bird sitting next to him—into his own old eyes.
He smiled from within and said, “I am God!”
Author: Sushant Sudhakaran
Editor: Caroline Beaton