Chandragupta headed to his favorite place in the palace - the guava tree in his garden. There lived his pet, the talking parrot - Meethi. He named her Meethi because of her exceptionally sweet voice. He was awed by how quickly she learnt to speak. Every evening he would love to see his Meethi and enjoyed her chanting.
Meethi looked forward to meeting the king every day. She had been pecking a guava for her supper when she saw the king approaching. She flew around him with delight, and rested on his shoulder. Chandragupta’s face lit up on seeing Meethi.
‘Pranam, Maharaja’, chattered the parrot.
‘Heyyyyyy… Meethi’, cajoled the king, stroking her head. He then took out a ripe mango from the bag he had been carrying, and offered it to Meethi. The little bird nibbled on the fruit, and saved the rest of it for her breakfast the next morning.
After spending a few more minutes with Meethi, the king left for his palace. This went on for a few months. The people in the kingdom heard so much about the parrot, and were amazed by her talent.
One fine morning, the king’s brother, Suryagupta, visited him. Suryagupta ruled a nearby town, and occasionally dropped in to see his brother. Chandragupta was pleasantly surprised to see his brother, and received him with a warm welcome. Suryagupta had a sumptuous lunch at the king’s place, and rested for a while since he was tired after the journey. In the evening, the two brothers made a stroll around the palace in the king’s garden. Suryagupta had a sack in his hands. The king wondered what it might be and why his brother was carrying it.
‘How is your Meethi?’ enquired Suryagupta.
‘Oh yes! She’s doing great. She has learnt to say Pranam,Maharaj, you know!’, exclaimed the king.
‘Wow! That’s great. I know she’s very talented. See what I have brought for her’, said Suryagupta. He then took out a frame of metal glittering in gold. Chandragupta soon identified it as a golden cage.
‘Oh my God! You brought a golden cage for Meethi?’ exclaimed the king.
‘Yes. Isn’t it lovely? I have taken special interest in the making. It was made by the best goldsmith in my kingdom. It took him three months to complete this masterpiece, you know?’ Suryagupta looked at the cage in admiration. It had a carving of a golden flower on the periphery. The cage was fitted with a cushion for the bird to rest on. It looked beautiful.
‘Oh yes, of course, it is lovely, but…’
‘But what? I thought you would jump at this one’ said Suryagupta, who had expected an overwhelming response from his brother.
‘Of course, I love it. But, will Meethi be happy in this cage?’ Chandragupta raised his concern.
‘Of course, she will. Which parrot on earth would get such a royal treatment?’ concluded Suryagupta.
‘Okay, let’s see’ said the king.
As they approached the guava tree, Meethi flew on to the king’s shoulder, greeting him. She also recognized Suryagupta who had visited her a month ago.
Suryagupta held the parrot and placed her in the cage. The parrot had never seen a cage before. Nor did she know what a cage was for. She entered the cage, and looked around with curiosity.
‘See, I told you. She would be happy inside this. She would love to rest on the cushion I set inside’, said the king’s brother.
The crowd in the palace had just diminished after the sunset. So far, thousands of people in and around the kingdom had visited the palace to see the talking parrot and the golden cage. They were awed by the masterpiece.
The first day went on well when Meethi was busy watching the people who had come to see her. She felt excited and proud of herself that people longed to see her. She sang merrily and danced in the cage. Suryagupta was delighted to see such a huge response for his gift, and left for his palace the same day.
But, on the second day, Meethi was bored out of chanting the same things to the countless people flowing in. She was also very tired, having performed endlessly from the previous day. She slept for most of the day, and spoke very little.
On the third day she felt weak and feverish. She had not eaten much. She had not spoken a word. All she wanted was to leave her alone. She was sick of the crowd watching her.
The king was upset to see his Meethi in such a situation. He felt she needed fresh air. He ordered the crowd to leave the palace. Within minutes, the place was abandoned, leaving the king and his beloved pet. He took the cage to the garden, and let her free. Meethi could not believe her eyes. She leaped to the door, and flew high in the air. The king smiled at Meethi’s excitement, and left the place.
The next day, the king visited the same place to apologize to his beloved. But he could not find the little bird. ‘Meethi…. Meethi, where are you?’ he called out. There was no response. He looked around the tree, but could not spot her. Just when he was about to leave, he spotted her on one of the branches, looking at him.
‘Hey Meethi, come here. Look what I have brought for you’, he said, and took out an apple. He knew that Meethi loved apples. But, to his disappointment, Meethi just sat on the tree, watching him.
‘Hey, what’s the problem? Don’t worry. I will not cage you anymore’, said the king, sensing her fear.
Meethi still sat in the same place. Her heart was beating fast. One part of her brain told her to go ahead and make friends with the king again. But the other part of the brain pulled her back fearing that the king would cage her again. She was not willing to become a showpiece.
The king stood there for few more minutes calling her out, but in vain. He then knew what to do. He headed to the palace, and called for this goldsmith. The goldsmith arrived in minutes with his kit, and waited for the king’s order.
The king handed over the golden cage to the goldsmith, and ordered him to follow. Together they went to the guava tree in the garden.
‘Meethi, I know you are around. Look what I am doing for you’ said the king to the parrot, and turned to the goldsmith. ‘Cut the cage horizontally into two’ he said.
‘But, Maharaja, the cage would be useless if we cut it’ said the goldsmith.
‘I know. Just do as I say’ the king ordered.