Chapter 2: My Best Friend
Pea was roaming around the green grass, searching the fields for any signs of tasty food. Hearing a familiar voice, he looked up. Instantly, his face lit up.
He ran to the girl, beaming. Megha smiled.
“Let’s go home, you don’t have to look for food this way!”
Megha started walking, Pea followed her.
“So, how was school?”
“As usual,” Megha said, sighing, “I had no idea what the teacher was saying in the Maths class. Science was hectic too, there were some odd diagrams.”
“You did enjoy Geography, right? It’s your favourite subject, Megha!”
“Ah yes I did, that one was the best. We were learning about climates.”
There was a little pause. A refreshing autumn breeze blew. Pea looked at the grass. The touch of the wind was so caring, so lovable – it caressed the bent heads of the grass, as if asking to get up.
Megha took a deep breath, and said, “There was something else the girls were interested about.”
“What is it?” Pea asked casually.
“Well, they were asking me about my best friend.”
At the last two words, Pea tensed a little and looked nervously towards Megha. She was smiling.
“What did you answer?”
“I lied,” Megha smiled a little, “saying I don’t have one.”
Pea stared at her. “What?”
“What else do you want me to say? Say aloud that I have a peacock who can talk and who is my best friend? Certainly not that, Pea, I don’t want to be called a weirdo.”
Megha stopped walking and faced Pea.
“Did you get the point of it, Pea?”
“I guess not.”
“Pea, you are my best friend!”
Pea stared at her, surprised. “Really?”
He stared at her smiling face, and finally believed. “Oh, Megha, thank you so much, you don’t know how much happy I am right now.”
“Pea, I met you when I was five. Now, I’m eleven. For six years, we’ve been friends. We always understand each other. Who can be my best friend except you?”
Pea smiled, then his happiness faded. “But, I’m a bird – a bird can’t…”
“Where did you get that rule from? I’m the one who reads books, and no such thing is mentioned anywhere!”
Pea remained silent.
“Listen Pea, the reason I didn’t tell this fact to the girls in school because they are just… people. People who will not understand the bond we have. But there’s no reason to be afraid. You and I are inseparable, best friends forever, and it is going to stay like that forever.”
Pea looked up to Megha and smiled. “I promise you Megha, I’ve always got your back.”
Suddenly, they heard claps, and the voice of a man could be heard.
“Wow, so incredible and emotional,” the claps continued, “Megha, you really have a thing with words.”
Megha looked towards the person who was speaking, and immediately, a smile flashed on her face.
Pea looked at the man whom Megha had just called her ‘uncle.’ He had heard a lot about that person from Megha, but it was the first time he actually saw him (whenever her uncle came, Megha had to stay at home. She told her that her mother made delicious foods for the guest, and she had to help.). Megha’s uncle was quite tall. He was dark toned, and his eyes were small (they reminded Pea of Cray’s eyes). There was a thick black moustache under his big nose.
“Your mother is looking for you, let’s go home, Megha.”
Upon returning home, Megha had to say goodbye to Pea.
“I’m sorry, Pea, but you see, we have a guest at home, so… Maa wouldn’t allow.”
“Totally understandable,” Pea said quietly, “See you tomorrow.”
Pea walked away from Megha’s house. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. Slowly, memories began to arrive in his mind.
The day he met Megha – it was so wonderful. He, indeed was lucky to see her. It began from a small promise of “I won’t hurt you”, and grew into a promise of being “inseparable.” He never thought he would find this beautiful treasure. No one could ever expect that from a human, after being in the clutches of a hunter.
Through his closed eyes, he could clearly see the visions of those past days.
“This is a beautiful peacock we have, right Dipayan?”
“Beautiful? I don’t understand that word. But it is costly, for sure.”
“We could sell him to the market.”
“Normal market sales are not something I, Hunter Dipayan does. I have a greater plan for him.”
Pea’s eyes were filled with terror, as he saw all the other birds in the cages around him. He shared his cage with a parrot.
“But today has been a long day, we should take rest.”
“That’s correct, Dipayan, let’s go.”
The two bold men went out of the room, locking it well as they left.
“Argh, why am I here?” Pea screamed, pushing the cage from the inside, trying to break it. “I want to go home, my parents are waiting for me!”
“Quite a child.”
“Hunter is surely cruel, he could have left that little peacock alone!”
All around there were murmurs about him. Frustrated, Pea sat in the corner of his cage, tears falling down from his face. The parrot in her cage was watching him quietly.
“Little peacock, where are you from?”
“The forest, please help me go back!”
There were soft whispers about him.
“Please, help,” Pea said, his voice overflowing with emotions, “Help me break this cage – I can figure out the rest of it.”
The parrot scowled, “How will you?”
“Look, up there, a little window is open. I can fly away.”
“You are a peacock, you cannot fly that high. You’ll fall down.”
“Even that will be better, just let me out!”
A crane put his beak out through his cage. “Don’t know if it will work. I’ve never lock picked before.” He reached out Pea’s cage. After a few unsuccessful works, the lock opened.
Pea opened the cage quickly and went out. “Come, Parrot, we’ll run away together.”
“Child, you are young, you should go,” the parrot insisted, “I’ll stay with all these birds.”
“But, why won’t you come with me? You can be free this way.”
“I understand, peacock, but I cannot leave these birds alone. See? They are lonely. They need support. You spread your wings, and fly. Fly free.”
That was how Pea had escaped from Hunter Dipayan’s house. He somehow flew out of the house, and then ran away. It was winter, so cold. But he had made it to a village. The village where he met Megha.
His life used to wonderful before Hunter Dipayan captured him. And now, it was beyond the words he knew. He was loved here. He had someone who wouldn’t be afraid to stand by his side. He had Megha, his best friend.
“Well, well, look who is so emotional right now.”
Pea broke out from his thoughts and looked up to see who had spoken.
“Ah yes, it’s me, Cray the Mischief-maker,” the chatterer, a crow, back flipped in the mid-air and said, “So, what’s up, dumb peachick?”
“I don’t know why you call me that,” Pea said, “I’m sure I’m not dumb.”
“Just your illusive thoughts. Oh, will you ever improve? Will you ever learn to fly, fatty peachick? Look at me! I’m not only capable of flying, but I can also do backflips.”
“Well, you learnt them from the pigeons,” Pea said in a boring voice.
“Yeah, and so what? At least, I can do it, unlike you!”
“Thank you for reminding me that, Cray,” Pea smiled, “But there is someone, who will love me forever the way I am. She never said that she had a problem with me not able to fly.”
“You mean that human girl? Ha, she…”
“Megha told me that I’m her best friend, Cray.”
“How can you even trust her, peachick?” Cray said, turning away.
“What do you want to say?”
“Just wait and see. A new friend for her is arriving today. The bird has a beautiful voice, she is nice to everyone, and of course, she is gorgeous! And she can fly too! The perfect best friend for Megha!”
“She has already chose me, she can’t abandon me,” Pea said, trying to sound firm, “I’m her best friend.”
“Don’t forget, Pea,” Cray said in a dark voice, “Megha is a human. And humans can do anything.”
Cray flew away, leaving Pea frozen in shock.
Meanwhile, Megha was having a hard time in her house.
“Go give this to your uncle; he has done a long journey from the city.”
“Don’t take it that way! Here, hold it like this.”
“Have you asked him to sit? And yes, talk to him nicely.”
“Ma,” Megha said, holding a tray of sweets and a cup of tea, “It’s too much…”
“Too much of what?” Megha’s mother asked, scowling.
“He’s just my uncle, you are acting like he is this great human we’ll never see again and we should…”
“Don’t be rude, Megha,” Megha’s mother said sternly, “You should learn to welcome guests properly.”
Megha sighed and left for her room. His uncle was sitting there. He said that he had something to show Megha, and it could only be opened in her room. There were no fans in her room, so her mother was asking him to sit in another room, but her uncle said it was fine.
Megha’s room was quite small. There was a table at one side, on which stacks of books were placed. On the cream coloured wall, there was a mirror and a calendar. A painting of Megha and Pea was pasted at one side of the wall. Underneath the painting, a single bed was standing. Near Megha’s table, there was a chair on which her uncle was sitting.
When Megha entered the room, she noticed that something was put on the table. It was covered with a big piece of cloth. Megha’s uncle saw Megha staring at the object and smiled.
“Ah Megha, why all these? You did not have to prepare sweets for me!”
Megha looked away from the object. She put down the tray and the cup on the table “Aren’t you getting problems in my room? It’s kind of messy, and there are no fans, so it’s really hot here.”
“Don’t worry about that,” his uncle said, “I’m used to heat. In the city, it’s even hotter due to pollution. And speaking of a room being messy – it’s fine actually. You should see my son’s room. Your description for the word ‘messy’ will be totally changed.”
Megha looked at her disorganised stack of books on the table, and the spider webs in the corners.
“How is your son doing? It’s been a long time since I last saw him.”
“Hemanta? He’s good. He is in class six now, so he is really busy. Those English-medium schools, they arrange a lot of activities. Projects, home works, class tests, exhibitions – and also the main examinations. Plus he has private tuitions. It’s really stressful for him; he doesn’t get any free time at all. It’s okay though, he’s always scoring the best marks.”
“That’s nice,” Megha replied.
“He is really talented, all the teachers are always praising him.”
Megha remained silent.
“Let me show your gift – the thing I’ve brought for you.”
“What is it, uncle?”
“Just wait and see.”
Megha’s uncle stood up, and removed the cloth from the object. Megha gaped at it.
A cage was placed on the table. There was a little bird in it. It had feathers of blue and white, and its beaks were grey. It stared at Megha.
“I know you like birds,” Megha’s uncle said, “So I thought a bird would be the best gift for you. One of my friends found her in the dense forests. What do you think?”
“She’s so cute,” Megha smiled, “Thank you, uncle.”
Megha’s uncle left the room, saying a few words that were enough to shock Megha.
“Everything comes with a price, Megha, so does your new friend. As the time comes, you’ll see what I mean.”