Of beaks that kiss.

Of beaks that kiss.

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Never in my life did I imagine getting friendly with animals. Like, having a pet dog, falling in love with him, crying over his death and then having a bird for a pet and then falling in love with it, too and then having that bird become possessive about me. Never. In fact, apart from the few sparrows that came to visit me in my balcony, I hardly even gave any credit to birds. I didn’t even know they could think. Dogs are smart. We all know that. But, birds? We hardly even consider birds to have any brains, at all!

Cookie, my parakeet, has been with us for a year and four months, to be precise. And, my two pet mountain parrots have been with us about six months. Cookie, having lived with us for longer, has bonded with me very well and we get along famously. So much so, that–and I don’t exaggerate–she has grown very possessive about me. Possessive and demanding of my attention.

Now, how could a bird become possessive, one might wonder. Let me give you an example. If you were to come to my place for a chat, Cookie would screech like crazy, hardly allowing us to talk. She wouldn’t enter her cage willingly, but would instead, fly over onto your head to try to attack you. In short, she would use every trick in her book to drive you away so that she could have me all to herself.

She doesn’t appreciate even Bholu or Chikki getting any attention from me. A couple days ago, as I sat on the floor watching TV, the two parrots were loitering around on the sofa behind me. Cookie was happily perched on my right shoulder. After a while, Chikki came over and climbed onto my left shoulder.

Cookie got off, walked over to Chikki and pecked at her until she got off my shoulder. No sooner did Chikki climb off, Cookie took over the now empty spot as I looked at her, stunned. She is a real bully, that girl, Cookie!

I was surprised beyond belief! Could a bird get that possessive about a human that she wouldn’t allow anybody to get close to them? I was astonished and thrilled. At least someone was possessive about me! How I wish I had video-taped it all to share with you.

Cookie doesn’t even approve of my kissing the other two birds. If the three are seated atop their cage and I try to talk to them, Cookie places herself between me and the two parrots and insists I kiss her. Each time I move from her towards one of the other birdies, she moves over and stands in front of my face, and gives me a look that asks, “Do I need to tell you, that you are supposed to kiss ME and me alone?”

Cookie loves to kiss, loves it when I shower her with kisses, especially on her tummy as she lies on her back, and loves to push her bum to my face and get kissed there, as well! She is an absolute darling. Oh, and she also loves snuggling under the bed covers! Yeah, it does feel strange reading all of this about a bird, but that’s how she is, and that’s how is our bond!

That tiny creature who measures no more than my palm, has a sharp brain which she uses very well to divert my attention from Bholu and Chikki. Or, even to remind me that I am supposed to share my food with her before I eat it, myself.

Bholu and Chikki have also begun to bond with me. Chikki only needs to see me sitting and she rushes up to me, climbs up my leg, onto my lap and from there, climbs up to my shoulder to play with my hair clip, or eat food from my plate. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, it’s a battle the three fight, for my attention as well as for the food on my plate.

I have stopped using the term “birdbrained”, ever since these three kiddos began showing their antics, displaying their intelligence and quick-wittedness.

There is so much to write about these three monkeys I have at home, I could fill in an entire book, and some more.

Sharing here some of their pictures, today. I will try and shoot a video, too. I specially wish to shoot a video of Cookie sitting on my shoulder, humming along as I sing a song. She is the only one who loves my voice–my singing voice, to be specific! So, wait and watch!

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

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Life with our pets is one full of unconditional love and happiness.

My heart will go on…

My heart will go on…

Every night in my dreams, I see you, I feel you,

That is how I know you go on…

Far across the distance and spaces between us,

You have come to show you go on…

Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on….”

petlove
Chikoo Gupte

As I hum these lines along with Celine Dion, my eyes fall on Chikoo’s picture that hangs on the wall in front of me, and I am overcome with emotions. Every single time I hear this song, the only person who comes to my mind is Chikoo – my pet dog.

It will soon be a year since he passed away. April 20th is a date I will never forget. Well, how could I?  That is the day I lost a piece of my heart!

Unlike in the song, I don’t dream of Chikoo every night. He has visited me in my dreams just twice in the past year. But, I have no complaints now, for he is here with me in the form of my parrot Cookie. She resembles him in manner and character so much, it’s mind-boggling! I feel his presence so strongly sometimes, I actually look around to see if I can spot his spirit floating around me!

It may seem rather strange for one who hasn’t ever had a pet, but for me, my pet dog was a very important part of my life  for as long as  he was with me. 13 years is quite a long period, isn’t it, for a soul to have an effect on the people around?

We all look for our dear departed  in Life around us in the hope of spotting the angels who live on in our midst even from the beyond. Life often gives us glimpses into the paranormal  through incidents that cannot be explained, but which instil a belief in life that exists after death.

How we hold on tight to that glimmer of hope that our loved ones who may have crossed over  are very much with us, protecting us, showering us with their love even from the other side!

Pet love
Cookie Gupte

That’s just how I feel when I look at Cookie. When she peers at me with a look of alarm in her eyes  if I were to cough, or cry. The concern in her eyes reminds me of Chikoo, whose big, brown eyes looked into mine to read the emotions in them.

It’s the eyes I peer into to look for the one who is no more with me, but whose presence I feel strongly. Oh, and also some characteristics that were so intrinsic to Chikoo, it astonishes me each time I spot them!

Each time I reach out to pet Cookie, she flips  over on her side and lifts up her leg, waiting for me to tickle her tummy.

Each time I reached out to pet Chikoo, he would flip over on his side, lift up his  leg and wait for me to tickle his tummy.

In the many pet videos I have seen till date, not a single one has had a parrot doing that!

Each time the doorbell rings, Cookie, who may be perched inside her cage, begins eating her food in a hurry. Maybe Dad’s at the door, she must wonder.

Each time the doorbell rang, Chikoo, who would be sprawled on the floor next to his untouched food bowl, would pull the bowl towards himself and begin eating, hurriedly. Maybe dad’s returned from work, he wondered.

Each time I see Cookie imitate Chikoo, I look around…and feel his presence. And, I send a prayer of gratitude out into the Universe. It answered my prayers.

P.S.

I would often say to Chikoo, “How I wish you were smaller in size. I would have carried you like a baby all day long.” 

So, Chikoo fulfilled my  wish and returned in a smaller size!

Now, I carry him like a baby all day long!

 

“What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose; all that we have loved deeply, becomes a part of us!”

 

This quote by Helen Keller rings true, isn’t it?

 

Love,

SHILPA….

 

PET LOVE STORIES

 

 

 

 

 

My first Valentine.

My first Valentine.

 

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow – the Day of Love. Do I believe in it?

No.

Not since some years now. Having grown, matured and experienced Life a bit, I have reached to the conclusion that Love is just  a chemical locha (reaction ) happening in our brains that makes us do all things stupid.

I don’t intend to come across as bitter, or sceptical, but this is what I have learnt about this little word that, apparently, makes the world go round. For me, love in its purest form is what I receive from my mother, and my pet dog, Chikoo. Endless, unconditional, evergreen.

Although, back in my teens, the picture was quite different. Teenage does that to you, doesn’t it? The Youth in all its glory – fresh and vibrant – waiting to conquer the world; spurred on by progesterone and testosterone,  hungry for being in the spotlight shone by our beloved.

Ufff!

All you think about, is a tall, dark, handsome (thanks to the Mills & Boons trash) knight, zooming down the street on his motorbike (no horses in the new age!) and sweeping you off your feet! With your head forever in the clouds, you are blithely unaware of the reality that’s far removed from your fantasy world.

So, when the said knight fails to make an appearance even as V Day approaches, where does that lead you? Down the dark alley named Heartbreak even before the heart takes a fancy to someone. Ah, expectations!

That was my story, by the way, when I was a 17 year old, on the threshold of youth with butterflies dancing in my stomach, making me swoon over every Tom, Dick and Harry, who did not even give me a second glance. Ouch!

The kind of trauma that can give a fainthearted 17 year old doesn’t need to be spoken about in depth.  However, we girls often forget about the Fairy Godmother we have all been blessed with. One who waves her magical wand and drives away our sorrow, wipes away our tears.

So, it was on a Valentine’s Day years ago, that, as I returned home from college and opened the post box hung on our front gate to check for any mail, felt an envelope inside. My heart skipped a beat as I brought out the said envelope, excitedly. It was pink in colour – the colour of Love!

On its front was my address, and behind it was drawn a large question mark. My heart was somersaulting like crazy, wondering who could have sent ME a Valentine’s Day card! I was not at all the most popular girl back then, thanks to my reticence.

So, with my heart thudding in my chest, I opened the envelope with quivering hands, and what do I see? A mushy message full of love printed in the centre, and above and below it, in the prettiest handwriting I know, were written the words…

“Dearest Shilpa….with lots of love, Aai

Truth be told, I was on seventh heaven! Receiving a card on a day that celebrates love – a totally foreign concept – from my mother, was not only unbelievable, but it was awe-inspiring, as well. There was so much I had to learn  from her!

My Fairy Godmother…My angel…Aai.

Sadly, along with time, I lost that card. Yeah, makes me heartbroken! But, the memories of that day, when mother returned from school and looked at me with that knowing smile at our little secret, remains etched on my heart, to this day.

I don’t remember any other cards I may have received from boys after that day,  but this incident stays fresh as ever. In fact, it is my favourite Valentine’s Day memory, one that I will be reminding mother about tonight, when I call her up before we call it a day.

Which is your favourite Valentine’s Day memory? Whom did you receive your first V Day card from? Do share with me…

I hope this post takes you on a pleasant stroll down memory lane!

Love,

SHILPA…

My best friend, my soul mate, my Valentine for a life time!

 

Love – Lost and found.

Love – Lost and found.

Four months ago, I lost the love of my life, my pet dog, Chikoo. The heartache was unbearable. All the love that I was used to, was gone, forever. Dealing with his absence was exhausting.

Heartbreak, or loss of someone you have loved dearly, takes its toll on the heart. It takes time to mend and get back to its sunny, cheery self again. I found it strenuous collecting the pieces of my broken heart and getting through this alien phase. I knew for sure that I wouldn’t be bringing another pet to fill the void Chikoo left. How could I give his place to someone else? And, getting attached to another soul would mean going through the pangs of separation all over again.

My day would begin with remembering my dear departed pet, and end with his memories. There were times I would find myself caught in the tussle between my mind and my heart: should I bring home another pet? At least it would save me from feeling lonely. But, what if I am not able to show them the love I did to Chikoo?

And, one day, out of the blue, hubby brought home a parakeet. A bird?! I was astonished. Why? Oh, why, did he have to give in to his impulses? Why couldn’t he have conferred with me at least once before bringing home the bird? I was already finding it difficult dealing with all the confusion, and now I had to deal with this new arrival! He was finding it difficult to deal with the void Chikoo’s passing had left, and, so he got home this bird, was his reply.

A dog and a bird are as different as chalk and cheese. The dog being the cheese – gooey and soft, and oh, so lovely – and the bird being the chalk – as emotionless as the piece of stationary. Or so I thought. Because, each time we tried to feed it, it would shrink away in fear, or try to peck at our fingers! I felt it may have had a traumatic experience with humans in the pet shop. Or, it may be in need of some time to get adjusted to its new environment.

But, even after three months, the situation had not improved. I, too, had not tried to bond with him, or her. We couldn’t even make out its gender! I did not want to get attached to anybody all over again. Everything I did for the bird, was done mechanically, without investing any emotions.

Until, I began ‘talking’ to it, it being the only other soul in the house all day. Not that I would have heart to heart conversations with it, but I would just say things to it to hear it respond, “Eh?” It sounded cute. Moreover, I really don’t remember what had overtaken me.

And, one fine day last week, as I sat beside its cage, reading a book, it hopped over from its little stool ( its cage is placed on a stool and the door of the cage is open for the bird to move about freely) to mine. I just watched silently, in surprise, as it then snuggled against my back, and went off to sleep! it was seeking from me the warmth it had missed out on all these months!

In a matter of days, he had moved on to perching on my shoulders, nibbling at my neck or my ears and eating from my dinner plate. And, I had moved on from referring to the bird as “it”, to “he”. In short, the little birdie had found its mama, and I had found my Chikoo, all over again.

I remember this quote I read sometime ago:

All the love that you give away, will one day find its way back to you!”

He loves to lean on my shoulder and chat with me in ‘parakeetese’. We hold deep conversations, he and I. And, when he is tired and sleepy after all the activity he indulges in, he hops on to my lap, nestles in the crook of my arm and goes off to sleep. He is fond of all the stuff Chikoo was fond off. He, in fact, displays traits that were so typically Chikoo! I believe that my Chikoo is back. Maybe, his soul took three months to find its way to the bird, and that is why it took me three months to bond with the bird.

Silly, emotional me!

I am aware that this guy, too, will be gone some day. That’s what happens, isn’t it? People enter our life, touch our heart and move away when their time in our life is up. Saddening, but true. But, that’s okay. I am strengthening my heart, making myself resilient to the changing nature of the world.

Oh, did I tell you, I call him, Cookie, which, at times, changes to Chikky, which was another name for Chikoo! And, so often, he doesn’t respond to, “Hey, Cookie…!”, but definitely does to, “Hey, Chikky…!”

Post co-authored by Cookie.

*Linking this post to Friday Reflections, at Write Tribe.

The prompt for today was the 25th word on the 25th page of the book we are reading presently. And, the word I found was ‘found‘!

Hug more often.

Hug more often.

In the city of Vienna, Austria, lives a young man by the name, Thyago Ohana.  Let’s call him an angel in disguise. You will soon learn why.

Every two or three months, he goes out on the busy streets with a big smile and a sign that says, “Free hugs”.  He opens his arms for an embrace to whoever may be in need of a squeeze. Reader’s Digest did an article on the power of touch, where it narrated Thyago’s heartwarming tale.

A few years ago, when he was stressed out during a visit to a new city, Thyago was hugged by a stranger that  left him feeling calm and joyous. It was this feeling that encouraged him to give back what he had received!

Thyago recalled an incident about an elderly woman who watched him as he offered hugs to passersby and asked him for a hug, herself. After a few moments, when they broke their embrace, she held on to his shoulders,  looked into his eyes and thanked him saying she couldn’t remember the last time someone had hugged her that way!

Wow! Isn’t that so very touching!?  Now do you agree that angel would be the perfect epithet for this young man?

I love hugs. I am quite a tactile person, who can be quite touchy, feel-y when with people I love dearly. Be they my close friends, my parents – I need to hug them to feel their presence; hold them by their arms, pinch their cheeks if they say something really cute, or even silly, in short, I need to feel them.

It suffuses me with warmth and an assurance that I have some really fantastic people in my life who not only love me, but look out for me, tolerate my craziness and will never let go of me.

When Chikoo was around, I would cuddle up to him every now and then. I loved hugging him, burying my face in his satiny fur and run my hands all over his warm body. I would pinch his cheeks, play with his soft, floppy ears, in general, drive him nuts by my tactility!

He enjoyed it when he was younger and reciprocated with much enthusiasm,  but in the past couple of years, he had become very possessive about his space. So, whenever I would snuggle up to him, he would indulge me for a minute or two, after which he would shift uncomfortably in his place and give me a give-me-my-space-woman look.

I would leave him alone after threatening to overdo it all the next time. Tee-hee!

Sigh. Those were wonderful times, when I had Chikoo’s instant hugs whenever I needed them. Now, I have to wait for the time when I can go, meet my parents, or my friends to get my quota of the comforting hugs.

Half of my friends, whom I communicate with online, send me virtual hugs. They are comforting, too, but I am waiting for the day I meet them in the real world and give them real hugs. Those will be beautiful moments!

A hug is the therapy we all need to indulge in much more frequently than we do.

We like our space, and unconsciously build invisible walls around ourselves– a boundary others aren’t allowed to cross. It does leave us bereft of the kind of comfort we, ironically,  seek everyday!

A hug expresses a million emotions. It conveys empathy, love, reassurance, appreciation, care and extends a kind of calm and happiness that no other therapy can.

Scientists have studied the effects of hugs and I am sure you must have read/heard all about the magic of hugs. So, I won’t go into it in detail, lest my post come across as a scientific piece on touch therapy!

All I would like to urge you to do, is go hug! Just do it, or get into a huddle, if you have a large group of friends, and feel your pain, your sadness physically leave your body!

I am aware of some people being allergic to physical contact. Ahem…this is actually a sarcastic remark for my best friend of 30 years who is so allergic to hugs, she has never allowed me to hug her in all these years! Can you believe it?

So, for people like my dear, idiot  friend, do give it a try!

Hug someone and feel for yourself the warmth that will wash over you, leaving you feeling relaxed and happy.

Go on…just do it, and let me know how you felt!

Until later,

Love,

SHILPA…

A hug is the best therapy we can get from our loved ones!





*Linking this post to #writingwednesdays at Write Tribe