‘….. The old man uncaged the little bird with a lovely smile wrinkling up his face. The bird, at being released, gave a shrill chirp of joy and flapped his red wings happily. The man watched the little bird, his eyes brimmed with tears. And then bidding a final chirp of goodbye, the little bird took off into the deep blue of the sky, soaring higher and higher until he felt unbound and free. He could now venture into distant lands and explore the far and wide world again. The end.,’ finished Munish and looked up from the book to see the peaceful faces of his sleeping children.
He carefully set the book down, relieved that he had finally accomplished the tedious task of charming them to sleep. As joyful as they were, it wasn’t easy to deal with kids after a long hard day of work. And sometimes it was just impossible to say no to them. And today had been one of those times.
‘Daddy, we need a bedtime story!!’
‘Daddy, please read us that story, daddy!’
It was impossible to say no.
With a quiet sigh, he tiptoed out the room and made his way down the long staircase which spiralled down to the sitting room. His wife, Mona was already there, her face duly focused as she worked through some papers. He propelled down noisily on the armchair next to her at which she looked up startled.
‘Everything ok with the kids?,’ she asked, setting the papers down on the centre table which adorned the room.
It was an extravagant table, dark with expensive carvings that glared in the suffused light. Munish’s eyes skimmed over it, not without a touch of pride.
Both Munish and Mona had mutually agreed on that table because they felt that it was just undeniably perfect for the room. In fact, they often felt that everything about their house was perfect. Their awed visitors thought so too. And that’s why they worked so hard, didn’t they? To live a good life?
Her voice was just a little sharp.
‘Yes? Oh, the kids? Perfect. Everything was just perfect’, he answered, forcing his focus back to her.
It was Mona’s turn to look relieved now. ‘Good. That’s good. So how was today? You look pretty exhausted.’
‘I am. It was too busy. Too many people showed up.’ He scowled. ‘And quite a demanding lot, they were.
Mona reached out and rubbed his arm sympathetically.
Soon after that, there was a small moment of silence. She was staring at him.
He cleared his throat hastily. ‘So, how was your day?’
‘Ha. Thought you’d never ask. It was actually productive. But I’ve got to finish this stuff though’, she said, gesturing towards the stack of papers. ‘So, I’ve booked myself rather a long night.’
‘That’s great. Well, you should get on with it then. I’m just going to sit here for a while,’ he declared, getting his throbbing body to lean back in his chair.
She smiled at him and resumed her work.
He resumed staring at the table.
Sometimes on days like this, Munish felt a little stifled having been taxed down with his busy life and responsibilities.
Somehow he found himself yearning for a different life. Now, he had a wonderful family, an imposing house and a well paid job but then he longed to be…..uncaged. To be free.
Munish shook his head sorrowfully. Now he felt like he was being dreadfully ungrateful.
He glanced at Mona to see if she perhaps felt the same. No. It was only just him.
Feeling a little dazed with fatigue, Manish took a deep breath and closed his eyes and for a long while he wondered what it would feel like to be the little bird in flight, soaring higher and higher into the blue until he felt unbound and free.
When Mona next looked at Munish, she found him fast asleep in his armchair.