When Wangari Maathai came to our house

[This is a real story from this week]

She hurried into my room. As if there had been an earthquake and I hadn't found out busy looking at my computer screen in the office.

"Papa. Come fast. A hummingbird has come to meet us."

"What do you mean?"

"Hurry hurry ... It might fly away. A bird came inside the house and ... " she went on breathless.

I didn't understand the optimism of the announcement. Last time we had a bird in the house we were glad our handy man was in commission to fix some plumbing and we had given him the extra duty of relieving a bird from Jania's room. It was getting dark outside as the evening was flying into night. And I thought we had a nightmare on our hands: there was a bird in our house flying nowhere.

I held her hand. And she hopped me out of my office which stands outside our house, peaceful in obeisance to my tendencies. And she was exactly the opposite. If you can imagine a human flying, that was her rushing across the courtyard into our house. She was as excited as a dove freed from her cage. Sometimes flying is what peace needs.

As I closed the door behind me, I saw her disappear into the family room where we have a big sliding door. That door must have been open; that is how this bird came in. And when I saw all of them, I was relieved.

There was my wife and son, standing quietly. My son was holding ... yes holding ... a hummingbird in his hands and my wife with her mobile phone trying to take a picture of our son with our surprise guest.

I was amazed at how calm the hummingbird was. And it was a baby hummingbird. It probably was a few weeks old because birds get to full size pretty quickly.

"This is unbelievable Shilpy. How did she get here?"

"I don't know. When I came in, I heard this weird fluttering sound and saw her on the glass window trying to fly through it."

I was wondering how she caught her. But I didn't want to ask any more questions and miss the opportunity to take a couple of pictures myself. By that time, Jania said she wanted to hold the hummingbird. He had spent enough time with her so my son acquiesced.

In the process of transferring her, she took flight and again rammed against the window, high up, and started the fluttering game again. My wife took a few jumps to get it back, but it was clear she would have to use her old technique. This is how I got to know what she did.

She took a small kitchen towel and threw at her against window. And softly brought both the towel and the bird back down. And handed her over to Jania. And the smile on Jania's face was worth remembering. Here is the picture I took with my cellphone:

After a few pictures we decided to safely guide the bird out into the open again.

I don't think this was any ordinary hummingbird that came into our house. This morning I was reading about Wangari Maathai, the nobel prize winning extraordinary woman from Kenya. I didn't know her well and heard she was inspiring; so I googled her in search of a singspiration. The first video that came up on the search was one where she was telling story about a hummingbird.

The hummingbird in that story carries water drop after drop to extinguish a fire burning the forest while the bigger animals are scared to move. Wangari said that she aspires to be the hummingbird from that story of the jungle which is on fire. "I might not be able to save the earth. But I will do the best I can." There was my singspiration flying away into the night.

That night I told an altered version of this story to Jania at bedtime. The hummingbird in my story, inspired all the other animals to get together and help get rid of the fire.

The purpose of the singing hummingbird is to inspire others to sing. Singing takes you somewhere even if the world has stopped in fright. That is why the hummingbird comes into our house. That is why Wangari Maathai came to this world. Singing takes you somewhere; somewhere is better than nowhere.

[The End]

This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Billy Flynn, who gave me this prompt: "When you are going nowhere, anywhere is a better place to be". I challenged femmefauxpas with the prompt "Elegance comes from simplicity".


  1. This is an absolutely beautiful story. What an amazing experience for your family! This was very touching and inspiring. Great job!

  2. This is an amazing story. I felt as if the hummingbird did come in to your house for a reason - it seems like such an extraordinary thing to happen. Love the photo!

  3. Oh Shiv, this is a truly beautiful piece. Your words were like poetry and the story so very lovely. My favorite line: "a hummingbird has come to visit us." This sums up the world as seen from a child's eyes. Wonderful.
    - Karla