FIRST DAY IN CHARGE OF THE BIRDS
Mehera J. Irani
They are lovely little birds, biscuit coloured, with a little black cap on their heads and dark feathers. And they really have a sweet voice.
During those early cloistered years at Meherabad, Baba one day brought us some salunkis to keep as pets. Someone had given them to Baba and so He gave them to us.
Khorshed was told by Baba to take care of the birds. She was to change their water, feed them, and clean their cage. Everything was fine for a few days. Then Khorshed cut her finger while working in the kitchen. It was a tiny cut, hardly noticeable, but she didn't take proper care of it and the cut became septic. In India, one has to be extremely careful about dirt. A small insignificant wound can become infected overnight. And this is exactly what happened to Khorshed.
Baba told Khorshed that she shouldn't clean the cage of the salunkis until her cut had healed. Mani and I were now to be in charge of the birds. I have to laugh when I think of the two of us. We felt so proud to be in charge of those birds. Mani and I were determined to give the best care possible to the salunkis. We cleaned their cage until it sparkled, gave them sunbaths outside everything we could think of we did for those birds. The whole morning passed by in making sure they had fresh water and enough lettuce and bird seed to eat.
Just as we were admiring our morning's labour of love, we were called to the kitchen for lunch. It was early and Baba had not yet arrived. He was still with the men mandali. Mani and I went to the kitchen and sat down to eat.
While we were eating, one of the servant girls came into the kitchen and told Mani and me that the salunkis were on the roof! We were used to seeing wild salunkis chirping away as they perched on our roof. So we thought she was referring to the wild birds. But the girl was insistent. She said, "No. They aren't the wild birds, they are ours. The cage is empty! Our birds are on the roof!"
Mani and I looked at each other in shock! Here we had done our very best for Baba to take care of those birds, and would you believe it, we forgot to shut the cage door. Such a simple thing and we both forgot.
Mani and I didn't know what to do. Soon Baba came and we told Him what had happened. Baba certainly wasn't pleased, He looked at us, gesturing, "You did everything so perfectly, how is it that you forgot to close the cage door?" Mani and I didn't say a word, but we each remembered how proud we had felt in doing such a good job especially because it was our first day in charge of the birds. And we knew that whatever contact Baba had wanted with the birds was now broken. But Baba took it well. He just said, "Never mind, let them be free."
BABA LOVED US TOO, pp. 20-21
1989 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust