The other day my Mother was on the phone. She sounded very excited. “Do you know, there is this parrot which flies into our house for the last 2 days, sits on my hand, also on my shoulder and then goes and perches on the curtains……..”. I got really excited……how can an unknown bird be so friendly? Could it be that Rupu has been reborn? Yes, it has to be him, he’s come back……! After a few days, the parrot stopped coming. You must be wondering who Rupu was. He was our pet parrot who spent 35 long years with us and will be there forever in our memory. Can such strong bonds be developed between man and bird? Yes! It can and it did….

When I was 3 years old, my father brought home a small ball of green fur. He had bought it from a villager in a bullock cart. It was a baby parrot. Through the ball of fur, the bright red beak would pop out when being fed. I was too small to remember those days, this was told to me by my mother…. but the years to follow, were to make him such an integral part of our family. We used to call him “Rupu”.

Rupu grew up fast. As he grew up, we realised that he was a beautiful Himalayan parrot with a prominent red ring around his neck. He was kept free in the house with a small basket converted to a bed. My mother always felt guilty of taking away the freedom of a bird – who was born to fly freely in the skies. Once his wings had grown, she tried to make him fly away, but he wouldn’t, so used had he become to this life. After going around for some time, he would come back. We were also scared that if we didn’t allow him back, we may risk his life.

Rupu was so very intelligent. It started talking everything that we would talk. Everyday after dinner, my parents used to discuss a lot of things. He would keep one of his claws close to his head, in a posture of listening intently. And the next day he would repeat the entire conversation, all with proper pauses, exclamations and questions. We would all burst into laughter. He was a source of constant entertainment. If anyone coughed, he would cough, if anyone laughed, he would laugh.

Rupu had become almost like a human being. He used to love eating paratha and sweets and everything which we ate. We had four huge guava trees at home and he used to eat a lot of guavas and also nuts and seeds which we used to give him as his natural food. But he used to prefer all the food cooked for us. If we delayed giving him his meal, he would throw tantrums. He used to express his anger by snatching the paratha piece from our hand and swinging it off. All his emotions were expressed like any human being. He was very gentle with the children in the house. Would never bite them when they held out their fingers. He would hold their fingers in his sharp beak ever so gently. The children loved him. It was such a beautiful expression of his emotion of compassion.

Rupu lived with us for 35 years. He was with my parents in Bangalore. I was in Mumbai. During my daughter’s vacations I used to come down to Bangalore. Rupu used to instantly feel my presence without even seeing me. A lot of frenzied movements and running around in his space, showed his excitement. He would start chanting my name – just the way my mom used to call me as a child.

People wouldn’t believe that a pet parrot lived for 35 years. He did! Maybe, it was to do with the love and affection it was brought up with. The day Rupu died was a very sad one for us. We buried him in a forest and wished his soul a peaceful journey and freedom in his next life…..Rupu always lives in our heart and memory.