I am formally served food on a white plastic table in the family's dining room. The people here take care to supply me with atleast three variants of food a mealtime, something I call good thinking because I'm quite picky, see. On landing, I have half a second to look at what's on offer before I hear a snatch of conversation through the living room window. Three voices chinwagging, flying past my dwelling, I suppose. Three voices of my kind!
Voice 1: Excellent. I see a mango tree. That should do for lunch.
Voice 2: But we've had it just yesterday. And they're off season!
Voice 3: Notch down, sonnova dawg. We've flown nine miles breakfastless.
I struggle to hold back the natural impulse to call out that I'm at lunch, that I have sufficient food for four of us (with dessert too!) before being slapped to the reality of living in a closed space the others cannot enter. As the voices fade, I begin to reflect-- on the freedom I never had, my bargain for confinement with the breeze that never ruffled my feathers..
However, 'confinement' is a strong word to call my existence, as I'm at reasonable comfort for a domestic pet. I am allowed to rise and retire at will, fed with the choicest of food (an extensive list derived from little mistress's prolonged research, which happens to consist more of her fancies than mine.. never mind) and left to my own for most of the day, much to everybody's good. My temper tantrums are humoured upon; I am fondled more than a newborn, grab more attention from guests than mistress's prized wall piece and have never been starved or abused. Instances of me hopping on the computer keyboard, perching on assignment files and snuggling into the black helmet on a cold day are treated perfectly normal, as are my attempts to sing (although I do get an occasional reprimand when they disrupt phone calls).
Not that I have no escape. I can flee at sunrise when the good lady opens the door to collect milk, or later when the good man leaves to work or even when the good (!) girl leaves the window open while draining cups of some brown liquid. But to what would I flee, pray, when I already have a life of comfort in hand with no threat to existence, when I'm not caged or trim-winged like my counterparts and when procuring food is a mere two second flight? The only thing I have not is the company of my kind for which I'm surely not fool enough to risk the world outside, mortgaging this freedom.
I may not soar high among tree tops or have tales of adventure to brag. I may have not gone places or dated and mated but I never, too, have flown nine miles in search of an unassured meal or lived and moved in stealth dodging predating eyes. My life may be predictable, listless, yes, but it is atleast definite.
Four plunges at the rice bowl, a bite of groundnut before I grab the sweet brown chunk and fly to the window..for a solitary gaze on the mango tree.
Captive, am I?