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We spent hours trying to entertain the parrot. But he/she/it continued to look at us disdainfully. After one exploratory round of the room and our books, it had settled itself on the grill outside our window.

It drank a lot of water from the orange mug, but ignored it when I put it out in a brass bowl. It was not interested in the grain or strawberry. But my plants suffered a lot of beak. The parrot reminded me of certain old relatives, whose tastes are very simple, and are exhausting to look after. I find it easier to feed people who love food. People who don’t need much to make them happy, are in my experience, people you have to pay a lot of attention to.

I tried to rack my brains about what Dolly Aunty, our neighbor used to feed her parrot, Mithu. But all I could remember was her carrying the bird around on her shoulder, cooing, “Mithu, Mithu!” Though this could be entirely my imagination.

I also remember Dolly Aunty’s daughter, Anahita, who always looked faintly embarrassed and irritated with her mother. Dolly Aunty however bustled around cheerfully, a scarf around her head, and a duster in the other, irritating my mother too when she popped her head into our door, and caught my mother lounging around reading a magazine.

It’s strange to think that all of them have passed away, Dolly Aunty, Mithu, Anahita and Faredoon Uncle. I am not sure who went first, Dolly Aunty or Mithu. But after them, Anahita suddenly died of a brain hemorrhage. And Faredoon Uncle wandered around for a few years, looking even more lost and confused than he did while Dolly Aunty was nagging him, and Anahita defending him fiercely.

Anyway, this parrot was not interested in chillies, either. We agreed that it had probably wandered out of someone’s cage, because it showed no inclination to fly even when Teja had his lens at its throat. After a while, the sun got too much for us, and we had to draw the curtains on the parrot.

I peeked behind the curtains every now and then, and the parrot was still there, happy with twisting around the grill. Perhaps the grill reminded it of its cage bars. Then, it was gone, as suddenly as it had come. I chucked the grain to the wind, and the strawberry into the bin. The parrot has not visited us again. Understandably, as we failed to satisfy its simple tastes.