Once, on one of my dog-feeding trips to D N road Andheri, a boy came to me quite excitedly, holding a small box in his hand quite excitedly, and explained to me that this small baby bulbul had fallen from the tree on his roof and he had rescued her. I appreciated that he was so kind and considerate. The boy said sadly that he didn't know what to do with the bird because they had two cats in the house. I became alert and thought oh! So one new pet for me! I said cautiously, " so what can I do?" He handed over the tiny box to me and pleaded 'Aunty please take care of this bird other wise my cats will eat her up'. I protested lamely, "I have five dogs, don't you think they will not eat her up?" Instead of answering my question he walked away and disappeared in a lane. I slowly opened the box and peeped inside and saw that a small ball of black feathers was timidly sitting in one corner staring me with feeble eyes. All of sudden I heard myself saying, "Kalli you are so sweet come with me". So finally Kalli accompanied me through out my feeding and then landed in my house. I transferred her to a small cage. I saw that she was opening her tiny beak for food. I was wondering what to feed her because this was my first experience with a bulbul. I gave her a little banana, which she gulped up. Nearly five servings of banana gave her some satisfaction.
In the morning I peeped into the cage and found her very much alive and sitting with an open beak. I had no idea about the right diet for this little one. My phone calls to my friends yielded no result. So I explored on the internet and found that the main diet of bulbuls are earthworms. I went to my society garden and requested the Mali to dig the land and give me some earthworms. But the Mali said mockingly, "this is not the season for earthworms. You should have brought this bulbul in rainy season when plenty of earthworms are visible'. I thanked him for his precious advice and came back. Some body advised me that earthworms are available with the vermiculture people, so I called them. They said if I give them a chance to fix a vermiculture plant in my society then I can have lots of earthworms. My search for earthworms ended. I saw that Kali was enjoying her banana diet so I stuck to that.
As days passed Kalli became more and more familiar with me hopping around in the cage She continued opening of her beak and eating from my hand. Her feathers started becoming shiny and glossy. I decided to give her freedom. "My Kalli will not stay in prison through out her life She will enjoy her natural habitat. She will fly in wide blue sky with all her friends and breathe the open air", I told myself. Within three months Kalli became a beautiful bulbul with a long tail and red patch below her tail. She learnt to eat on her own. Her time to go away was coming nearer and nearer. One day finally I gathered all my courage and took Kalli to my farmhouse 100 kilometers away from Mumbai where I used to see many bulbuls. I opened her cage and with a heavy heart, left her in the mango groves outside the farm. She was not ready to fly. I removed her from the cage and left her there, thinking that as soon as she gets familiar with open surroundings she will fly away.
2 hours later when I was returning back from my farm I peeped into the mango groves where I had left Kalli hoping to see that she has flown away and was enjoying her freedom, but to my extreme surprise I saw Kalli still sitting where I had left her. My heart came in my mouth and I screamed "Oh my God! My Kalli cannot fly". I grabbed her in my hand and put her back into the cage. I thought miserably that Kalli couldn't enjoy her freedom. I thanked God that no other big bird had harmed her. I decided that Kalli will not go anywhere, but will stay with me forever. That day while returning I heard Kalli whistling and I whistled back in response. Whistling to each other we came back home.
One day I went to Crawford Market and rescued 20 bulbuls. Those bulbuls stayed in my house for two days before I took them to my farm. I saw that chirping of these bulbuls had excited Kalli. It seemed she wanted to mix with them. I picked up one male bulbul and left him in her cage. She was so much overwhelmed that she opened up all her feathers and started dancing. It was a fabulous scene, which I shall never forget.
Next day when I reached my farm I took Kalli along with her new mate. In the same mango groves I opened up the cage with the rescued Bulbuls and in a fraction of a second they all flew away, perched on the branches and got busy grooming their feathers. I thought once again that I should try to set Kalli free. I opened her cage. Immediately the male flew away but Kalli was still in the cage restless. I removed her from the cage and put her on my palm and to my extreme surprise she just opened her wings and flew away to a far off tree. My heart skipped a beat and I frantically started looking for her but I could not see where she had gone. All of sudden I heard the whistling and I knew that it was my Kalli and she was enjoying her freedom, which was my ultimate goal and dream for her.
Whenever I am go to my farm I try to look for her. I pray to God that wherever she is she should live happily with many of her siblings and always remember that some body somewhere is missing her terribly, and always sending her love and blessing.