No, I cannot do it. This water body is huge, it is beyond what I can fly. I will definitely fall if I try to fly over it. I wonder, this water body is not as calm as it used to be at my home. I tried my best to overcome the growing fear, but the water that suddenly rose, nearly dragged me into it as it fell downwards. I can’t take the risk, especially at this temperature. It feels very hot even when the Sun is close to the ground. I miss my home, my family, lemmings and everything else. I don’t want to die without seeing my mother once again. But it feels very foolish to take a risk in this place which is unknown to me. I will wait as long as it takes.
I’m getting hungry and I’m not even spotting a lemming here. Let me at least stretch my wings. It has been a long time. Ah, I hate being enclosed in the cage.
“Dad there it is, stretching its wings!”
What is that sound? Oh, here they come. They are the animals who used to feed me every day. I will at least survive if I’m with them. Let me fly to them.
I’m not able to understand what they are talking, but I understood that it made them happy when I landed perfectly on that animal’s shoulder.
Banda Aceh, Sumatra Islands,
“Wingardium leviosa,” Paul said pointing wand to a stick in their garden and then he repeated it pointing wand to many other flower pots, trees and everything around him.
“You seem to like the wand, Paul,” said Rick.
“Yes Daddy, it is similar to the wand Harry Potter used in the movie. I love it, but it is not working. The stick is not flying, even when I am pronouncing the spell correctly,” he said.
“Haha, Paul, it doesn’t work really. That’s a movie you saw, it is all created for entertaining us. It is not really my child,” said Rick.
“You gave him a robe couple of years back, and then a Gryffindor scarf, a replica of the sword, round frame glasses even when his eyes are perfect! Now this wand, Rick, you are confusing our kid. You are making the fantasy world appear real.
It will spoil him! He is just a kid, he cannot differentiate between reality and a story. Before it gets serious, I want you to stop this nonsense from crossing the limits,” said Isabella.
“You cannot understand it, Isabella. You don’t know what it means to have such things from books and movies you love. In fact, we are lucky to have such fan merchandise available to us so easily nowadays. As a child, I used to make such things from papers and cardboards, but now we are getting actual replicas. I want my kid to enjoy, especially when we can afford them. Anyway, I hate it to explain people who cannot enjoy fantasy stories,” replied Rick.
“It is madness, you will never know where it leads,” said Isabella.
“Please stop it now, we will discuss later. You see how happy he is? He is enjoying, don’t ruin it. I’m thinking what to present him for his next birthday,” said Rick.
Paul came running towards his parents and said, “Daddy, please get me something that is in the movie which is real. Please Daddy, please.”
“Yeah, there are a lot of rats in home and frogs around the garden. Your dad will give you one,” said Isabella.
“You actually gave me an idea Isabella, yeah. Paul, just wait for the surprise,” said Rick and rushed inside home.
New Delhi, India.
“Yashwant, you are struggling past five years. These dark ones are not working. This year all planet movements favour white colour. Get a white one in this breed. Unless we sacrifice it, you will not see an improvement in your business.
Remember it should be a male and that bird should not be a native of our land. Sacrifice should happen after Kartik Amavas, which is after the Diwali celebrations are completed. Only then Goddess Lakshmi will stay with you,” said Amar.
“As you say, Amar Ji, but I wonder if changing the colour will reverse our luck?” said Yashwant.
Amar raised his eyebrows and said, “You are insulting us by doubting our words. Insulting us implies that you are insulting our god and traditions. It is harmful to you and your family. If something fails, there is a reason beyond our understanding.”
“My apologies Amar Ji, kindly excuse me. I won’t repeat it again,” said Yashwant.
“I heard they are even delivering them to home, act quickly,” said Amar.
“I will be on the lookout,” he said and left the room after touching feet of Amar.
Rick went to Lovebirds pet store and its owner Sumer led Rick inside. There are a lot of exotic birds and moreover, there are hundreds of owls in cages.
“Hello Sir, welcome to our store,” said Sumer.
“Hello, so can we get it? The one, about which I discussed with you over the phone,” asked Rick.
“Yes Sir, we can get it definitely. But before that, we urge you to learn about them. They belong to the wild, they cannot be raised as pets. You have to train yourself for understanding their behaviour etc. Once it is sold, we cannot be responsible for anything that happens and there will be no refunds. If you agree with these conditions, please pay a ten million IDR as an advance,” said Sumer.
“When can I expect one? I can’t wait for presenting it to my son,” said Rick.
“Sir, please don’t be excited. It may take longer than we expect. It is illegal to get them, but we are risking it for you. Don’t announce it to everyone and be careful,” said Sumer.
“I will take care of it, here is the cash. I will pay remaining when you get it,” said Rick and left the store.
Sumer called his son and said, “Aran, Send a message to Yusuf Jordan in Jakarta immediately. He is the best at dealing with such stuff. Only he can handle this deal.”
“Do you think it is easy to get one? I wonder if we can even spot it and that guy wants to pet it. Crazy guy, he is not even worried about the cost,” said Aran.
“It is summer in Arctic tundra. They will be available there, if not we can get them in Canada. There is every chance that they will migrate for nesting and Yusuf is an expert in catching them. You don’t worry. I never thought Harry Potter movies will help our business. I haven’t watched even a movie in that series till now,” said Sumer laughing.
“It is not real. These graphics made people really fall for it. Let them pay for being fans and we will enjoy the money. I will send a message right now,” said Aran and left.
“Imran, is it possible to arrange it by Diwali? There is plenty of time,” asked Yahswant over the phone.
“Sir, it is a rare one. That too you want it in India? How do you think it can survive?” said Imran.
“I don’t know, take whatever care it is required to make sure that it survives till Diwali. We are going to kill it anyway,” he replied.
“But sir, are you sure? It will cost you a bomb and moreover, it is illegal. We can manage with ones that available in our country, but this has to be imported,” advised Imran.
“I know what I’m doing. Don’t worry about money, you will get its cost,” said Yashwant.
“Then Sir, arrange one lakh rupees as advance. Tomorrow at 10.00 A.M. my assistant will be standing beside the first scooter at Parking of Anand Vihar metro, wearing a red kurta. Hand it over to him and we will get the work started. You can pay remaining when you get the bird,” said Imran.
“I will arrange the cash and will give tomorrow,” said Yashwant and disconnected the phone.
I am Cooper. Today is the happiest day of my life, I can go hunting on my own. My mother will not keep a watch on me anymore. I am waiting for this day past four seasons. I am not able to believe that four seasons have changed since my egg is hatched. I cannot forget those difficult times, following my birth.
Unlike our counterparts, we are diurnal. Usually, my father will go hunting and gets food for all of us. Even though my mother laid eggs together, they will not be hatched at the same time. I am the fifth one to be hatched among the eight eggs my mother laid in that season. All my four siblings used to walk by then. Mother used to protect me from cold, wind and everything else by placing me in the nest and sitting over me. Her feathers were very soft and gave me all the heat needed.
My father mostly gets lemmings, which are plenty in this region. They are tasty. Mother divides food into pieces and shares among us. Since we are too young, we will be very hungry. But my siblings used to get the majority of the share, as they are stronger than me. On a lucky day, when my father used to get more lemmings, I used to get one, all for myself. I always feel sad that we don’t get to spend much with him. He always takes care of us by either hunting for food or flying around keeping an eye on our predators.
As days passed, the eighth egg is also hatched. I wish I can look at the younger one for our eyesight is only favourable to see things at a distance. We can only feel things that are closer to us with feathers around our beak.
Life appeared very cruel in the following days. My father spent more time flying and sometimes very far to get food for us. All of us used to fight for a share in the small amount of food he used to bring to nest. Even my mother had to leave nest occasionally to see if something is available around.
One fateful day, my father returned to nest after a long time with just one lemming to share among all. My mother tried her best to share food among all. But we, the elder ones got to adjust it just among ourselves. The little one struggled to get even a piece of it. This repeated for a couple of days. He got weaker. Though we all tried to comfort him, he couldn’t survive those harsh conditions. He died the next day. Sadly since my father’s return is delayed my mother shared him among all of us. In wild, this is how life works for some creatures like us. Sometimes we have to live on our own species for surviving.
I have decided on that day to learn hunting very well and today I will finally get to test all my skills. My mother or father used to keep an eye on me till now, but today I will go farther to get food for all of us.
As I am flying beyond our boundaries, I am now able to understand the pride my brother used to feel after he returned from hunting. My mother always advised me to look after our predators also. I have to alert them if I spot predators. As summer ends, we have to encounter huge animals like polar bears. I’m now enjoying the challenge, considering the number of factors that have to be kept in mind while hunting.
In these thoughts, I came a long way from the nest, yet there is no luck. How long till I catch one? Let me fly more.
Oh, wait! There they are! Two lemmings, ah, finally I spotted something to eat. But why are they in a nest instead of hiding in their burrows? Should I catch them? As I am flying in circles to think, I saw two very large and different animals at a distance. I haven’t seen them before. They are like bears, but standing on two legs. But if I go to my nest now without food, I will be hungry and have to share food others brought. Then younger ones will also suffer.
No more thinking, I will take these lemmings to nest.
Their nest didn’t break even when I’m standing on it. It is very strong. I fear my beak will be broken if I try to break this nest. As I’m trying to catch them, I heard some sounds and saw those two animals come closer to me.
“There it is on the cage, it’s trapped. Let’s go and catch it.”
They are coming closer, I should go now.
What? My talons are stuck in something. I’m not able to lift my body, what’s happening? They are coming closer.
Go away, you animals, go away. I’m hearing more sounds.
“You see, I said it will be trapped in these wires. My plan worked. We have to move quickly, come to hold its wings and tie its talons to the stand in the rear compartment of the truck.”
They caught my wings, tied my talons to something. It is very dark here, I’m not able to see anything. I’m not even able to fly as my head is hitting something whenever I’m trying.
“Hello Yusuf, I am waiting to hear the news from you for a long time,” said Sumer answering the phone call.
“We caught one in Arctic region. It will take at least three weeks to get it here. Keep the amount ready and ask your customer to learn about them. This is one is very young and excited. It will be really difficult to handle,” said Yusuf.
“Sure, I will let him know,” said Sumer.
After three weeks……
“It is beautiful, my son will be very excited to see it,” said Rick.
“Yes indeed, they got a huge demand nowadays. I hope you are ready to take it home. Did you learn about these species?” said Sumer.
“I saw a lot of videos to train them and keep them home. The only thing that worries me is temperature to be maintained,” said Rick.
“Yes sir, we really have to be very sure about that. Our country’s environment doesn’t suit them. Also, remember that it should not be kept in a cage small cage like we did. We just did for easy mobility. We attached a ring to its talons. You can tie it to any stand,” said Sumer.
“Yeah, I will take care. I can’t wait to see the happiness on my son’s face. Thank you guys,” said Rick and left the store with the cage.
“Sumer bhai, is it ready? This customer is irritating me a lot. He is calling me twice every day. How long will it take more?” asked Imran over the phone.
“Do you think that they are available around every street corner? Do you even know where Arctic Tundra is located? It takes time to catch one, get it transported to Indonesia and then to India. We have to additionally maintain air conditioning to provide a cold climate for it to survive. I will call you when it’s available,” said Sumer.
“Sorry bhai, but as you know Diwali is close now. There is a huge demand for these birds, if we get it after the festival, we don’t have any use with it,” said Imran.
“I know, I know. I will try my level best. But be aware, the amount should be transferred before we send it,” said Sumer.
“Yes, I will arrange it. Thank you,” said Imran and disconnected the call.
“Dad, do you think it is possible to arrange one? You should have sent them, the one we got instead of giving it to Mr Rick,” said Aran.
“It is a wild bird and this man is very excited to have it. I learnt from my discussions with him over the phone that, he did not pay much time in learning about raising them. Also, his family is unaware of it. So there will be trouble soon. Keep watching, it will not stay long with them,”
“What if it is killed?” enquired Aran.
“No Aran, you see he is gifting it to his son with a lot of love. He won’t let it die, I’m very sure about it. Also, I fed this bird past one week to make it feel comfortable with me. It will either escape from his house or he will call us soon to take it away. We need some luck for that bird to be safe, in case it escapes,” said Sumer.
“Rick, what on earth have you done? Why did you bring it?” said Isabella.
“Stay out of it. You see how excited Paul will be after seeing it tomorrow morning. After all, it is your idea. When you mentioned about mice and frogs, I wondered if we can get it and yes it is very possible,” said Rick.
Isabella held her forehead and said, “Rick, you seem to have lost common sense in this craze. This belongs to the wild and I think it will not survive long in our weather.”
“Why did you think I got a second air conditioner installed? I have learnt about them. I will take care of it,” said Rick.
Isabella left the room.
I don’t know what is happening. I was enclosed in a hard nest. I’m not able to break it nor am I able to fly. This place is very small, my feathers are falling if I’m trying to expand my wings. I wonder why that animal which is feeding me, suddenly enclosed me in a cage. My mother must have been worried about me or must be thinking that predators hunted me. I want to be back in my home. It is very hot here.
I see a small two-legged animal at a distance and fishes at a distance are making me hungry. I have to get out soon.
“ Daddy daddy,” shouted Paul as he came running to Rick.
“What happened, Paul?”
“There is Harry Potter owl in my room. I cannot believe it. It is very beautiful and just like the owl in a Harry Potter movie,” said Paul.
“Oh finally you have something from the movie, which is real,” said Rick and kissed on the forehead of Paul and “Listen…”
Paul didn’t let him finish talking and ran to see the owl. He saw that owl is struggling to fly inside the cage and opened it right away.
Owl flew out of the cage and started flying inside the home. Many feathers fell inside the room as it flew. It is going in every direction.
House soon turned into a mess with many things falling down. Aquarium fell down and collapsed as it tried to stand on it and catch fish.
Paul is clapping his hands as Isabella came and shouted, “What’s going on? What is this?” She shouted.
As she stood there in Chaos, the owl started attacking Isabella with its talons. She started shouting and crying. She is trying to hit the owl with a broom.
Unable to control it, she shouted for Rick. Before he came, owl attacked her once again near the neck and she started bleeding severely. She ran outside the room and owl followed. She reached house entrance and opened the main door and collapsed as the owl flew outside completely.
Rick went to that room which is damaged fully and followed blood marks to the entrance where Isabella collapsed. He called an ambulance right away and started doing first aid by cleaning wounds.
“I’m sorry Isabella. I should have told you all about this, I didn’t expect this, you are right. I will never do any such crazy stuff,” he said as he kissed on her forehead.
“Dad there it is, stretching its wings!”
Owl came and landed on Sumer’s shoulder.
“You are genius Dad, your idea of attaching GPS chip to this bird’s leg worked perfectly, else it would have been very difficult to find it,” said Aran.
“Yeah, also I tied it loose in the cage for it to escape easily. Let’s call India now. I feel pity for this beauty, but the money being offered is too huge to be kind,” said Sumer.
“Sir, the bird is ready. Please bring the amount in cash. I have sent the address to your mobile.
Meet me at 2.30 am. It is risky to deliver anytime before.” said Imran over the phone to Yashwant.
“Yes, I will be there,” said Yashwant and disconnected the call.
“I hope our miseries will be gone after we sacrifice this owl. In spite of our miseries I arranged money to buy it,” said Yashwant to his wife.
“Yes, as Amar ji said we should be out of trouble. Let’s pray for wealth,” she replied.
I finally got to breathe fresh air. After all these days of moving around and being tied, I got to fly freely.
That animal has put me in a cage once again after going with him. Then they moved me to many places.
When they finally brought me out of the cage, one animal, which is sitting before the fire, tied my legs and held my wings. He was about to hit me with something.
Suddenly many animals came into that room and held that animal before the fire. I was immediately moved to a box. It was cold inside and I felt happy once again. I was not able to fly but moving freely. They gave me food constantly. I do not know how long I was there inside the box, but now when I came out, I am in a place similar to my home. It is cold again, there is a lot of wide open space. There are even some lemmings to hunt. I ate a couple of them as I landed. Freedom finally, it is so nice to be free. I still see a couple of those animals in this place. I have to be careful.
I searched around to confirm if it is my place, but no, it is not my home. I am seeing many others who are like me. But I fear if I can ever see my family again. Who will call me Cooper?
A month later
Rick is reading the newspaper and in the international section, he saw below news.
Snowy Owl and other wild birds released back into their habitats.
Yashwant, a businessman in India is arrested for capturing a snowy owl and trying to sacrifice it. Many other owls were also rescued in this mission with help of WWF. It was a belief that goddess Lakshmi will stay if an owl is sacrificed during Diwali. Strict laws are being implemented to curb owl trade.
While normal owls are released in several national parks within the country, the snowy owl which cannot survive in Indian climate is transported safely to Canada which has a very cold climate, as the source region for this owl cannot be identified. Two people accompanied the bird to study its behaviour in nature.
An official expressed his surprise at such sentiments even in this age, and that too when many species are on the verge of being extinct. He said that they are going to trace the source, with coordination of international police and end wild bird hunting for once and all.