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Wednesday, 28 August 2019



It was a cool windy evening. There were sudden creaks as little branches of tree broke in the strong
breeze and fell.

Reshma was sitting in the balcony of their flat on the first floor. She was watching children playing in
the park. The children did not mind the strong breeze or the yellow leaves of neem tree falling on their
heads. They were all enjoying their ball game.
"Reshma, come inside," called her mother from inside the house. "It is too cool and windy. You might
catch a cold."
"Five minutes more, mummy." Reshma was also enjoying the game from the distance. Reshma
loved to watch children shouting in excitement.
Reshma could not play. She could just sit in her wheelchair and watch the life outside from her
balcony. She was fourteen years old and a spastic. [A spastic is a person who has no control over his/her
hands and legs from birth.] Reshma could not walk, or even button up her shirt. But she could crawl and
had learnt to use a spoon to eat and to handle her wheelchair. She went to a special learning centre. She
was given speech therapy there. She also learnt some subjects and some exercises.
Reshma felt very lonely. She had no friends. All the neighbourhood children were busy with their own
schools and games. Reshma's favourite pastime was to watch the children playing in the street or the
Now the wind became stronger and the light became dim. But the children went on with their game.
They were kicking a big red ball and jumping with the movement of the ball. Suddenly there was
another ball among the players. A brown one. The girls started screaming and the boys shouted at the
top of their voices. A brave boy bent down and touched the new ball. It suddenly flapped its wings and
flew up. Before Reshma could understand anything, the new ball landed in her lap. Children waved at Reshma and continued with the game.
"I know what his name is. It is Mitra, a friend." Reshma said. They took a basket and put some grass into
it It was Mitra's bed. Reshma kept the basket with her and slept peacefully. When she woke up, she
looked at the basket. It was empty. Reshma cried loudly, "Mitra ... Mitra where are you?" Her mununy
and papa searched in the house andatlastfoundhim nearthewatertub in the bathroom.
At around 7.30 the doorbell rang. Reshma was feeding breakfast to the duck. Mummy opened the
door. Reshma was happily surprised to see a group of children in uniform ..... Aunty, can we see the bird?,
they said. Mummy took them to Resluna's wheelchair. The children greeted Reshma with fresh smiles.
They were thrilled to see the bird in Reshma's lap. "He is Mitra", Reshma introduced the new friend.
"How lovely!,, they said. They helped Reshma to hold the bird while Reshma fed him with an ink filler.
They had to leave soon to catch the school bus. "We will be back in the afternoon, Reshma." "Oh, sure.
Do come, we'll play with Mitra, he is so loving" said Bansi. "'We will make him strong," said Kanu. "It is
difficult to make new friends for Mitra because he is lame," said Anita.
After this incident, the neighbouring children became very friendly with Reshma. They could realize
thatReshmamusthave felt bad because they did not play with Reshma.
Next day the children came in the evening. Anjuhad a thick book with her. "See, we can read all about
ducks in this book. Wewantto make Mitra very strong. He should be able to fly.,,
Mitramusthave come here from ahundredkilometers ?" Reshma said.
"Not hundreds, thousands," corrected Anju. "And he must fly back thousands of kilometers to his
home again."
"Yes, we will make him very strong." Reshma was delighted.
For the next ten days Mitra was treated like a royal guest. Everyone brought something for him. The book was their kitchen guide for Mitra. They all caressed and played with him. Mummy had never seen Reshma so happy and hopeful.
Finally, the day of departure for their dearest friend arrived. Res hma's father took all the childrenand the duck to a nearby lake. The children lifted Mitra from Reshma's lap and gently put him in the
water. It slowly started swimming. It shovelled the water with his broad beak. Children were happy to see the happiness of their friends. Suddenly Mitra disappeared. All stood worried, looking for him with wide eyes. And Mitra popped up from water with a small fish in his beak.
"Y eee .... ! " All cried and jumped with joy. "He has learnt it again." Children stood there for a long time watching Mitra.
The next day, Reshma went into the balcony to watch the children playing in the park. But there was no one ! Suddenly the doorbell rang, and all the children marched into the room.
"Aunty, please send Reshma to play with us in the park." they said. "We'll take her and bring her  back safely in her wheelchair."
With the help of friendly hands Reshma was taken down the stairs to the park. From the balcony Mummy looked at the broad smile on her daughter's face brightened by the setting sun.
Reshma never had reason to feel lonely again.
"Reshma, it's too much! Now come inside," shouted her mother and came out in the balcony to take
her daughter in the room. But she saw some movement in Reshma' slap and heard faint creaks." What is
this?" she cried.
"I don't know, mummy. It has just arrived." Reshma was puzzled. "It came from the sky," she showed
the route of the ball with her frightened eyes.
Mummy pushed the wheelchair into the room. Now they saw a scared bird with a big bill.
From Salim Ali's book 'Indian Birds' they found out that it was a duck, a shelter duck. Its beak was
broad like a shovel. It had bright blue, white and brown feathers. At the moment it looked exhausted.
A shoveller is not a native Indian bird. But it migrates from cold regions of Russia. This bird must have lost its way due to strong wind. In its efforts to join the flock, it got exhausted and fell in the park
like a ball.
Resluna, smother tried to pick it up but it suddenly bit her hand. "Ouch!" She cried. The duck fluttered to the floor. It huddled in a comer of the room. All through the evening Reshma and her mother tried to feed the duck. They put breadcrumbs, nuts fruits and grains in front of it. But it did not touch any of
"Murruny, let's give him some rice and milk," suggested Reshma. Her mother mixed boiled rice, milk and sugar. She fed the bird with an ink filler. The shoveller liked it. His eyes brightened and he started fluttering his wings. But he could not fly.

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