It had finally fallen off, the lone white feather. The bird’s prayers were finally answered. She would have taken it out by herself if her beak could reach it; she didn’t care about the pain. She had to become perfect after all with those shiny black feathers like everyone else. Now no one in the flock would make fun of her and she will be accepted by all. More importantly, she would now accept herself.
For the first time, the white feather was flying without its host. One can only imagine this experience, must be a mixed feeling of freedom and fear. After swaying around aimlessly for a while, it finally landed on the surface of a lazily flowing stream nearby. Fear must have turned into excitement now for it had flown so many times but this feeling of being afloat was definitely the first. End of the journey was not evident for what fate a feather can have after being separated from wings! It wasn’t colorful or shiny for someone to pick & keep it in their notebook. But still, it was thankful for the ride and was ready to accept what future was about to offer.
Near the bank, holding onto a submerged rock with his firm muscular grip, a curious looking snail had witnessed complete series of events. Don’t be skeptical, he is a snail and a snail has all day to notice such things. They notice everything. It’s kind of television for them. But this snail was different (why else would there be a story about him). He was not involved in fun activities with his friends today. The white feather had caught his attention. It was still floating in the middle of the stream where rocks were far from the surface. Deep submerged rocks, fast flowing water in the middle, his own natural slow pace, every factor around seemed to have aligned itself to keep him from his wish. What could this poor soul do? The only thing he could possibly do, to keep looking at the feather and hope it reaches out to him, while he couldn’t.
The feather kept swirling as if it was dancing to the rhythm of the gushing water. Having completely submitted to its fate, there was no fear left. It embraced everything in its path, the decaying red leaves, the unsuccessful landing attempts of dragonflies and the occasional touches of soft aquatic plants. Getting out of your comfort zone isn’t always bad. At this point, the journey looked pretty envious.
Water Flow was taking the feather to the other side of the stream. With every passing moment, chances looked bleaker. Once it gets to the opposite bank, there is no coming back and the snail knew it very well. The sheer concentration was tiring his body but those gleamy towering eyes refused to give up every time.
A miracle is what he was hoping for. He couldn’t swim or fly and his crawl was painfully slow. He never complained or asked for anything but he wants this feather, desperately. He used all these arguments in his prayers to persuade the gods above him. Just look at the turn around for this white feather. Life is strange, the ones you think you belong to, pray for you to leave and the unknown want you desperately in their life.
The sound of a big splash made the snail hide under the shell almost in a reflex action. He snuck out as fast as he could but he had lost track of the feather. The area of impact was quite nearby the feather. Maybe someone threw a pebble and if the impact was too close, it could have sunk. The white feather was no more afloat and the snail couldn’t spot it anywhere near that region. But again, sometimes when we are desperate we try too hard, we look too far.
Perhaps, it was that kind of day when everyone gets heard. A big fish splashed near the white feather and disrupted its progress towards the opposite bank. Ripples were so big that it had sprung the feather halfway across and then had set it on course towards him. Few droplets fell on the feather such that some part of it got merged under the water, decreasing its visibility. The feather was barely a foot away and the snail had spotted it while his eyes retreated from the splash area. Soon, the fading ripples brought the feather within the snail’s vicinity with such a grace as if nature was rewarding him for his unshaken belief.
The snail was leaping in joy, figuratively. Sometimes he would arrange the feather on his shell towards the right and in the next moment, he would adjust it on his left. At times, he would tie it on his back parallel to his virtual spine and would imagine himself flying like a dragon. And when he got tired of flying, he would embrace it ever so affectionately as this soft little white feather is all he has in the entire world.
On the same day, the bird happens to come across a rare scene, a joyous snail with a white feather. This was a bit unusual and slightly unsettling.
The bird was still happy, why wouldn’t she? She now has everything she ever wanted. But why these sudden unpleasant thoughts? Something of her’s belonged to someone else now and became a source of happiness. But why is it pinching her now? She never considered it as her own. Maybe that one white feather could have made her stand out from the rest, but why didn’t this thought ever cross her mind before.
Flying away from all these unnerving thoughts seemed like a viable option and that’s what she did. She flew away with her flock, maintaining a happy face for everyone. The blanket of happiness was still intact but now there was a tiny hole through which a rogue gust of wind would get in every now and then.
And about that saintly white feather… well, what about it?