THE HOOPOE BIRD
Mani S. Irani
Mani related the story: "We found a hoopoe, a bird featured in the well-known spiritual allegory Conference of the Birds. The hoopoe has a crown, and a tail that resembles a striped cape. It looks very regal, like a king. (No wonder they selected that bird for the story.)
"The hoopoe's leg had been broken by some child with a catapult or a stone. With a soft thread, we wound a matchstick around its leg, like a splint, fed it and kept it. It got better."
There was an iron bed in the house, which Baba used as a sofa. Seated there, the first thing he asked when he came to the women's side was, "How is the bird?" (Flapping his arms like wings to indicate the bird.)
"So much better today, Baba," they said. And Baba petted it.
One day, the bird stood on its leg and was able to move. The women thought to give Baba a surprise. He asked, "How is the bird?"
"You'll see, Baba," they said. "You'll see."
"Baba sat on the bed, and we stood around it. One of us brought the bird. We kept it at some distance, so that it would walk across the room and Baba would see. Sure enough, the bird started hopping and stepping, as far as it could, in a straight line parallel to Baba.
"Suddenly, it turned, and continued hopping and walking directly to Baba's feet where it dropped dead! We couldn't believe it. It had seemed so much better."
Baba commented, "You people haven't the slightest idea how fortunate this bird is!" Baba touched his forehead with his middle finger to indicate destiny, or fortune. "It will incarnate as a human being in its next birth, but not as an ordinary being." (Perhaps one with spiritual attainment.)
Taking Baba's name, the women buried the bird in the compound under a tree.
MEHERA-MEHER, A Divine Romance, Vol. 1, pp. 470-471, David Fenster
2003 © David Fenster