Drama Fiction

A rapid noise of clicking feet outside her net-covered window attracted her attention. A domestic pigeon was caressing his purplish-grey wings with its head and simultaneously pecking at the backside of the window AC it stood on with its pink twig-feet. 

A few weeks ago, a pair of pigeons made their nest beside the AC on the bay below the window. The large Ashoka tree hid the September sun behind it's dense foliage, shading their family.  

Sella had gotten a new hobby of looking at them. Fascinated by the Mama pigeon warming up her small round eggs under her grey stomach. The chalk green spots on her neck quivered as she turned from side to side while watching her with those beady red eyes observing her back. 

So startled by the piercing gaze, she took a step back instinctively. Then laughing at herself, she realized that every mother is ferociously protective when it comes to her child.

The guttural humming of an old 70s song was a sign that Papa was already up and taking his morning tea. She corrected her dishevelled shirt and walked inside the bathroom to brush her teeth.

Done with her morning routines, she walked down the stairs to pick up the fallen newspaper outside.

When she re-entered the door, resembling a pile of discarded clothes her old father was lying unconscious on the cold floor.

The white corridor of the city hospital loomed into view as she woke up. Sleeping on benches in the corridor for the last week as her father lied inside fighting his way back to the land of the living became her new routine.

The Doctor confirmed that he suffered a second heart-attack. His body too weak to take the burden pushed him into this state but there was slight hope he'll be waking up soon.

Holding her mother's hand, Sella suddenly realized how thin it was, with dark brown dots covering her hands and arm. Liver spots on her cheeks marring her once fair skin.

Her parents turned old and weak slowly in front of her. One lying unconscious in the hospital and the other sleeping quietly with her frail figure. Her breaths slow to come and fast to go.

Unwilling to dwell on these dark thoughts, Sella decided to go back home, take a bath and refresh herself before coming back again.

The road to home was filled with people who were moving to their own destinations in different directions. Watching the crowd, she felt her mind emptied and gradually calmed down.

After a shower, she habitually walked to the window and peeked at the pigeon family nested outside. Her eyes widening with joy as she stared at two yellow furballs under Mama pigeon instead of the two eggs previously.

The baby chicks squirmed under their mother's wings, tumbling upon each other while chirping crisply as if teasing each other.

Sella desperately wanted to hold them in her palm but she dared not lean forward more as Mama pigeon was now aware of her hiding place.

Her mood lifted and she went back to the hospital only to know Papa had awoken and was doing well. Her brisk figure flew to her father's side looking him up and down and gingerly held his swollen hands covered in needle holes in hers.

To cheer up the solemn atmosphere she told her parents about seeing the baby chicks. Her words and hands lingering exaggeratingly in the air as she described the colour of their fur, their small beak resembling a duck and the scary Mama pigeon's glare.

Soon their room was filled with her father's rough chortling sound and her mother's marvelled whispering of it being a Nature's miracle. Birth of a new life is meant to be celebrated by everyone.

After four days, Papa came back home. The previous dark week long forgotten by Sella, she resumed living her daily life.

She didn't like to work. Her graduation degree, as if a useless piece of paper, was squeezed into a briefcase containing miscellaneous documents collected by their family over the years.

Her unambitious thoughts regarding her life and career disappointed her father deeply but he never complained.

As long as he's there he can provide for his daughter. She didn't need to step out and work for other people.

So her routine didn't follow any clock's hands. She woke up when she wanted, slept when she wanted, maybe picked up a hobby today only to drop it tomorrow. Everything distracted her and nothing fascinated her.

In the afternoon one day she was called to her father's room. Her worried self as soon she walked in asked, "What's wrong? Everything's fine right?"

Faintly she could see that the pair of husband and wife were a little nervous but still firm as their lips were pressed in a line without replying to her.

"Why are you both not speaking up? Did the Doctor call? There should be no further complication, right?." She felt confused.

Seeing her worried, some firmness eased from the old couple's faces.

"Sella, have you decided what to do with yourself?" Her usually soft-spoken mother hardened her tone and asked.

"With myself? What's wrong with me?"

"You have no aim in life. Living an undisciplined life everyday. You don't even help your mother around the house with her chores. Lying everyday on the bed and complaining about being tired. What's not wrong with you?"

If not for his already weak condition, he was willing to shake her literally to see sense and understand the harsh truth. The harsh truth being he won't be always around to protect her.

The helplessness overwhelmed his recently injured heart and he told everyone to get out. Closing his tired eyes he decided to talk to her tomorrow.

Jaw hurting from holding back retorts and arguments she wanted to spout off, she ran back to her room and shut herself inside.

Plugging in her earphones, she blasted the sound to maximum and stared at the pigeon family, listening to one song after another until she was called for dinner.

Dinner was a mild affair done in silence. Her mother, lost in her own thoughts, didn't even ask Sella if she wanted an extra helping of her favourite curry and her father's dinner had already been sent to his room an hour ago.

After dinner, she turned off her mind by watching a mindless soap opera. As soon as she got into the ongoing melodramatic scene of the righteous mother-in-law scolding her innocent daughter-in-law and as she cheered silently for the sheep-like daughter-in-law to talk back and defend herself, her mother walked in her room.

Switching off the television, she abruptly cut the histrionic mother-in-law in between her vicious scolding. Curbing her impulse to laugh at her mother's gawking face, she shifted inside and made place for her mother to sit next to her.

"Mom. What happened to Papa? Why is he suddenly mad at me?" If it was before, Sella wouldn't be asking her mother and would have run herself to interrogate her father herself. But she couldn't risk making him angry so she could only look at her mother to mediate.

"Sella, you are not a child anymore. Why don't you try to be more responsible to your life and body? Have you decided what to do in future or are you just planning to sit at home, living this aimless life?"

"What's wrong with living at home? Am I a burden to you now? And you know I'm just taking a break to figure out what to do. You know I hate to work with strangers and I get tired travelling daily." Her unyielding attitude finally made her mother angry.

"You've been at home for two years now. You are not a burden to us but you are a burden to your future. From food to clean clothes, you depend on me. And for paying your internet bills and your useless hobbies that you give up within a week, you depend on your father. How can we not be worried? You don't take anything seriously. We won't be around forever to look after your needs and save you from your own carelessness." Finally with a last hopeless look, she walked out leaving a flustered person behind.

The night went by excruciatingly slow and for the first time in a long while, Sella watched the sun rise and fell asleep soon after she turned her back to it.

The three people maintained a cold silence harmoniously by living in their own rooms.

Until three days later, Sella suffered a blow. As usual, after she woke up she went to spy on the baby pigeons. Their frolicking ways of eating and sleeping while being in a cool shade of Ashoka tree reminded her of herself. Their parents cushion them on painstakingly collected twigs, dried and coarse grass and uneven pieces of pebbles while shielding them under their feathers to give warmth.

What was unusual today was she didn't hear the normal chirping from the window. It was quiet. Too quiet.

Cautiously she leaned out the window to look down. The baby pigeons were sleeping. Feeling delightful, Sella wanted to touch them before Mama and Papa pigeon came back. No. Come back? And finally the horror of the situation dawned on her.

She focused her now blurry eyes at the babies only to realise they weren't breathing. Just lying at an odd angle.

In a highly piercing cry she called her mom. Pointed at the baby chicks and looked pleadingly as if demanding a different and bearable truth.

Her mother took a peek outside, sadness evident at her face. Stepping back she murmured a slow prayer for two souls. Then grabbed Sella by her shoulders and took her out of her room. After dialling the number of the door-guard, called him up to help bury them in the backyard.

At the time, when the sun stood at its highest place brilliantly and the air particles shimmered in front of their naked eyes, they made a small and deep hole and buried the baby pigeons. Their fur still shines with a lustre, reminding Sella of their playful and restless movements. She looked up at the pair of pigeons sitting on the protruding part of the window AC.

Strangely, she felt betrayed. Weren't parents supposed to protect their children?

So why are they dead?

Everybody's heads were like drooped flowers in the dark. Some said a cat must have sneaked up and killed them, others said they died from cold.

Pigeons hide their newborns for at least a month before they harden their wings and learn to fly.

This small family was her hobby. Watching them, admiring them, she slowly came to care. Her wait for the eggs to hatch. Two very short weeks of seeing them grow up. Squinting their glassy eyes at her when she would come to peek.

That day in the middle of the night, Sella switched on her laptop and applied for a job. Choking down the sadness, she made her resolve. Her first step towards the truth.

She had to be independent. Her parents had raised her, cushioned her falls and shielded from discomforts all her life. Her parents may not be around the next time she would suffer a hardship.

April 17, 2021 03:55

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Ritika Tandon
07:40 Apr 20, 2021

U my friend, are born for it!


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Writer Maniac
12:03 Apr 22, 2021

This was a beautifully written story, that kept me hooked till the end. Using the pigeons as a plot device for Sella to realize her mistakes was very well done. I loved how realistic your words were, especially when you described the soap opera scene. Great job, I really loved it. I would appreciate some feedback on 'Forget-Me-Not' and 'Staring at a Stranger' if you're free.


Arya ...
18:52 Apr 22, 2021

Sure. I've read some of your stories. They are really good. So, no sweat. 😤 Also thank you for reading mine. And appreciating it. 😭


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Palak Shah
19:09 Apr 20, 2021

Great story Arya, I love how the story progresses and the way that it has linked to the prompt. Well done !!!


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Arwen Dove
05:28 May 10, 2021

This is amazing! Keep me hooked all the way through, enjoyable to read. Great job!


Arya ...
11:03 May 10, 2021

I'm happy someone read it and liked it. ❤


Arwen Dove
06:21 May 11, 2021

Enjoyed reading!


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