Buddy Bird

 

by Kai

Ask anyone from Hawai’i about what they think of mynah birds. It is likely many of them will mention the distinct ring of a mynah’s cry, and the constant annoyance that they feel anytime that cry is heard. Feral birds, like mynahs, carry potentially harmful diseases, and are not normally household pets. My mother and I used to agree with many of these negative ideas about the noisy black birds, until one day one flew into our lives and changed them forever.

As a child, I always looked forward to waking up early on Saturdays. Cozy pajamas, the inviting smell of my motherʻs cooking, and colorful cartoons were all a child like me needed in order to be entertained.

One Saturday, with The Winx Club playing on our small TV, the incessant caw of mynah birds outside, and the distant crackling of bacon frying in the kitchen, our regular Saturday routine was panning out perfectly, until I saw a flash of black breeze through the open screen door and into the kitchen where my mother was. Being the naive seven year old that I was, I assumed the worst.

I imagined that my mother had just been knocked out by a flying rock, causing her to spill the soon-to-be feast of bacon and pancakes meant for my enjoyment. Firing up my imagination, not two seconds later a scream rang throughout the house. I sprang off the couch and into the kitchen where I could only imagine my mother lay, a frightened mess.

Carefully creeping around the corner and into our tiny kitchen, my mind flashed with horrifying images of spilled bacon, dustings of flour on the floor, and my mother laid out with a rock in her head.

To my surprise, I found my mother to be in one piece and the kitchen spotless. Everything looked as it should, until I looked up at my mother’s head. Perched proudly on her long blonde hair was one pudgy mynah bird.

That was the first of many run-ins with that bird. Days passed with no bird incidents, but about one week after the bird had first visited us, he appeared again. This time I was outside on our lanai painting when I felt a weight on my head. I slowly turned my head to the right, and in the reflection of a sliding glass door, I made out the silhouette of a confident black bird on my head.

The mynah soon began to visit my mother and me daily. He would fly into our kitchen and land on our heads or arms, and we would let him. He was a harmless bird, sweet even, and eventually we began to think of him as a pet. We even affectionately named him Buddy Bird.

We became accustomed to his appearances and even looked forward to him. As a child who was obsessed with Snow White, having a wild bird land on me and at my call felt like a dream. Buddy Bird had grown to love us, and we him.

One day, after my mother and I had fed Buddy and sent him off, my father came out to the lanai for his notorious afternoon smoke. I watched from the couch as my father took one last drag from his cigarette, my eyes wide as I watched the thick cloud of smoke escaped from his lips. With a sigh, he flicked what was left of the poison stick off the lanai and made his way back inside.

It was in the dead of night when we heard the piercing cry of Buddy Bird. I sat up in bed and looked to the window expecting to see Buddy flapping his wings in the sunlight as I had seen on so many mornings before. But instead, it was still night, and I could barely make up his tiny black frame in the dark. Buddy continued to cry out, and soon both my parents were awake and upset. His crying continued, and as we all sat up in bed, we smelled it. The thick heavy stench of burning leaves.

My parents and I sprang from the bed and rushed outside to the source of the smell. Underneath the house, buried in the pile of dry, dead leaves, a single cigarette smoldered at the heart of a small fire. With a speed I had never seen him use before, my father reached for the hose and extinguished the flames.

Weeks passed, and Buddy Bird visited us less, until one day he stopped showing up. My mother and I would wait in the kitchen and on the lanai longing for the familiar, gentle claws on our head. We missed our feathered friend and often wondered why he had chosen to fly in that one morning. We didn’t know why he had stopped coming around, or why he had chosen our family. All we knew was that if he hadn’t, we might not be alive today. To this day, whenever my mother and I hear the caw of a mynah bird, we smile

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