If you ask me, if the Phoenix are real, my answer will be YES and that too a BIG YES!!. I know that not only they are real, but I also know that there any many Phoenix as opposed to the popular belief that there is only one. How do I know it? That’s because I had met one myself and that too not long ago but very recently, as recently as mid-December of 2017, I guess it was around Christmas.
I was on my regular retreat to this small hamlet in Konkan region. This place, in the remote part of Konkan, is largely unknown to many people and not frequented by many and hence has been my favorite destination. Whenever I have some professional challenge, I take refuge here and due to my frequent visits off late, I have made friends with many locals.
I have my regular place booked which is at the foot of a small hill. This Hill, just to give you an idea, is shaped like elongated inverted “V” and on top of this hill is a “Tigers Rock”. This “Tigers Rock” offers a unique view,you can see mountains of Western Ghat range on the east side and on the west is the Arabian Sea. On lucky day, in clear visibility, during the first one hour after sun rise, one can see Small River flowing through the village below and meeting Arabian Sea in front of you, the Estuary as they call it.Whenever I camp in this place, I make it a point to go for morning walk on the hill, sit on the “Tigers Rock” and spend hours together enjoying the nature around.
On that particular morning, I was in a hurry, having missed my morning walk for last four days and the pleasure of looking at sun rise while sitting on the “Tigers rock”, I wanted to reach there before it’s too late. The fragrance of Mystique flowers started growing more and more as I was approaching the mountain top.
And there I saw him, sitting on the “Tigers rock” facing the rising Sun, it was singing some divine tune. His yellow feathered neck was shining like canary diamond and his red beak was shining even more beautifully in the morning rays of the sun.
I stood standstill on my path, being a bird watcher myself, I did not want to disturb this bird and miss this opportunity to observe this beautiful creation of God at such close quarters. “Looks like a migratory bird, never seen this kind of beautiful bird before. But which bird is this? , let me check with “Atharva”,I thought to myself. (Atharva is my friend’s son. Though Atharva is in just 8th standard, his knowledge about the birds is amazing. I call him Junior Dr. Salim Ali)
“I am not a migratory bird, I belong to this place.” He said in his soothing voice.
Wow! Hey!Wait a minute. Did you speak to me just now? And that too in Marathi? I asked him.
“Yes, I did and by the way, I can speak almost all languages. I have been waiting for you for last four days. Where have you been?”
Waiting for me for last four days? Where? Here at the same place? What time?
“Yes. You are right, absolutely right… Same time…Your morning walk time…I have been waiting here on the same rock. The‘Tigersrock’.”
Hold on. How come no one saw you then? I admit that I missed my morning walk for last four days, but my friends who are regular morning walkers, what about them? None of them reported seeing you. I meet them every evening for tea and to catch up on daily events and I can vouch being grown up in these surroundings they can sight birds from distance. So, you missing their attention!!! is just not possible unless they turned blind because of the reflection of sun rays on your lustrous feathers.
“Ahh! that is because people can see me only if I wish so.”
So why did you appear in front of me then?
“Hmm.. that is because… I will tell you that in a minute but as I said before, I am not a migratory bird. In fact, I belong to this place. Well I mean I come here once in 500 years for my rebirth. Well actually this time I came here after 350 years for my rebirth.”
Hey.. Hey hold on. you mean .. you are.. Phoenix? The Mythological bird?
“Yes, I am !but I am not a Mythological Bird. You can see me, right? Try to touch me too, Come sit next to me oh privileged one” and he smiled.
Skeptical and with some fear I sat close to him. Hoping that he won’t make me his breakfast for a change!
As I sat next to him, I realized that the source of the fragrance of mystique flowers is indeed this bird.I touched his wings. His feathers were as soft as fog.
“No, don’t worry, it is a myth that Phoenix eat meat. We live on nectar of Himalayan flowers. That is the reason you smell this sweet, out of the world mystique fragrance. So now do you believe that I am real?“
Wait a minute, I read that Phoenix take rebirth every 500 years and then how come you said you came here after 350 years. Something is not correct.
“Well, pollution my friend, pollution! Do you know there are average 93000 flights fly on a typical day and that too most of them at 36000 feet above sea level? They are polluting our territory which is shortening our life span between two births. “
Sorry, but I see some contradictions. I read in the books that, there is only one Phoneix bird at any given time and they take rebirth every 500 years. Okay correction…This time 350 years but then why locals say that during this season, every year, they experience this fragrance. Something is not correct.
“Yes, you are right something is not correct. Only one Phoenix bird – is a myth. We are many. “
So how does it feel to be immortal?
“That’s a myth. Immortality is relative. We too die. “
So cool to be born again from ashes isn’t it?
“Cool..Yes, cool but the process of rebirth is painful. Very painful … both physically and emotionally. It pains when we suddenly realize that our wings are not stronger to take us 36000 feet above or float for miles together, eyesight is no shaper anymore and we can’t see small things from such height. It is painful. Well actually it does not happen suddenly but for the first timer it is sudden realization. Remember there is no sudden change in anything –be it downfall or rise. The change keeps happening we just don’t realize. But yes, it pains, because you are no longer flying with same vigour and keeping up with your fellow Phoenix friends becomes difficult. And this is true for everyone and not specific to Phoenix only.
But you know what?The more painful is the emotional part, it hurts you more when you realized that you are being ignored, your friends are deserting you, and people write you off thinking that very soon you will be a history. That is the bad part of it my friend that is more painful and testing..Testing phase indeed.”
Yes, I said, I can relate to that. I know how exactly it feels, it pains when you realize that those who use to call you ‘Sir’,start ignoring you in a get together, sometime they don’t even reply back when you wish them on their birthdays on WhatsApp.
“Yes! I can understand” he said and continued, “We don’t have WhatsApp but we do have WhatsUp protocol. You see it is customary for us to respond back to the calls made by our fellow friends. This is our protocol and mandatory. This confirms all is well. But then they start ignoring your calls but you hear them responding back to calls made by others. This getting ignored by your friends and sometimes by your relatives is more painful. And you know what?This sometimes can lead you to lose your self-confidence and this is the most painful part of it. Every Phoenix has to go through this every time and each time before the rebirth. And to take rebirth we need to survive this phase. Remember, for every Phoenix this is time when he is alone.. All by himself.. On his own..But I guess everyone who has bounced back in their life is alone during this phase. “
So what keeps you going, how do you overcome this?
“Burning desire to bounce back and prove ourselves keeps us going.
Burning desire to bounce back again, burning desire to get the new lustrous body, the burning desire to get stronger wings to soar high and willingness to go through the pain even to the extent of burning your body and yes last but not least faith , tremendous faith !! That you will bounce back again. When we have this attitude and when the time is right we burn into ashes to be reborn.
But do you know how we realize that it is a right time? It is not difficult but rather simple… When our attitude is right, when we had shed off the past glory & sorrows, when have overcome the humiliation and the emotional grief, we know it is just the perfect time and when we are reborn, we are even stronger and more humble. “
You said Phoenix too die, When does that happen?
“Oh, when we die? That happens when we just don’t have enough burning desire to bounce back and when we give up. So mantra is “keep the burning desire on and never ever quit.
I am glad that I met you today, it’s time for me to go back. Oh by the way, when you meet Dr.Joshi, the old man in town, tell him that my uncle sent his greetings. It seems he met him ten years ago. “
He hugged me with his wings, planted a kiss on my cheek with a peck of his beak and with a quick, clean swift swoop he took off. He hovered over me and with just two to three flaps he was on the sea appeared like a small black dot and then disappeared.
Oh, you are curious to know whether he answered my question – why he appeared only before me but not my friends?And why I narrated this to you?
Yes, he did answer that question, he told me the reason and incidentally this answers your question too! He said..
“Because You are a Phoenix too! It’s just that you don’t know it yet!”