When the 14 year old sat on the 8th floor of her residential building in Kandivali, I wonder what thoughts must have run through her mind just before she took the plunge from that height to end a beautiful life. What problems could a ninth grade student studying in a good private school have faced to take such a drastic step? Was the burden of her bag of text books too much on her frail shoulders? Had she fallen in love at that early an age and then experienced a heart-break just like they show in films? Did she face an unpleasant environment at home where expectations were mounting at a speed she couldn’t keep up with? Thoughts kept scratching at the door of my heart and my mind hoped to get some reasonable answer at least, but to no avail.
Rabindranath Tagore had perhaps envisaged the troubles of this little child long ago when she was probably a tiny free bird flapping her way through heaven wondering if our planet would be a good place to visit. Obviously her choice proved her wrong.
In his story, ‘The Tale of a Parrot’, Tagore had long ago visualized kings who would find all birds simply pecking away at the fruits in the forests as useless. The free bird in Tagore’s story needed to be trained. It was believed that a simple nest made of straw and grass would not be able to hold education and therefore a golden cage appeared like an epitome of learning. Even if there was not much learning, the cage looked remarkable and the bird was considered fortunate to have got an opportunity to study in it. Texts then were shoved down his beak till there was no space for a scream or even a single song to escape his throat. If he ever gathered courage to peck at the bars of the cage, his wings were clipped as a punishment for his ungratefulness. Grieved the poor bird finally died and the erudite declared his education complete. There would be no more flying or singing. When then, “The King poked at the bird. It didn’t open its mouth or make a single sound. But the dreary pages of textbooks rustled noisily in its tummy. Outside, the fresh green leaves whispered a sigh into the southern breeze of spring – and breathed a soulful note into the skies.”
The little girl today is no more. Her family and friends today continue to grieve her death. Her teachers look sadly at the empty seat in the class. People keep wondering about the why of it all and probably the skies felt the load of the death of innocence to an extent to pour out their tears and drown the city in a deluge.