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The Kili (parrot) who escaped from Kili(nochchi)

When I visited the relief village for the recently displaced Northern people in Pulmodai in Trincomalee district, I was told that I can neither carry my camera nor my phone. This is a strict regulation by the military which is manning the welfare village. My colleagues were so worried that they begged me to leave my camera in the office. It is my policy not to jeapordise the relief work, so I obliged.

At the entrance, the female soldiers checked my bag. Another one took my national ID and gave me a INGO/NGO visitors pass and asked me to wear it at all times. I walked with my colleagues who were going to train volunteers from among the displaced community as animators who could lead and facilitate play and recreational activities in the Children’s Safe Play Areas set up by Save the Children. They started their training and I walked about in the welfare village. In the absense of a camera I started capturing impressions with my eyes.

In the middle of the crowded camp where people were struggling to get a patch of shade under a few remaining trees as the sun shone mercilessly over them and the wind blew constantly raising clouds of dust, I saw the most unusual sight; an old woman with a parrot on her arm. Just before that, I had met a man who had owned 200 cattle before he was displaced and he was sure that all his cattle have been killed in the cross fire. And a parrot to survive all this? I was simply amazed. I walked up to the woman who gave me a warm smile showing her betel stained teeth as she kept the parrot on the ground inside her little tent.

” This is my pet Sarah-kuti’ she introduced her to me. ” Sarah- kuti has been with me for the last ten years in kilinochchi” . Yes, although kuti means ‘little one’ in tamil, the parrot did seem old and her feathers have lost colour here and there.

‘ Sarah-kuti was in her cage when there was shelling. And a shell fell close to where we were and a piece of shell struck her cage. The cage spun around so fast, that she almost fainted. When I fianally managed to reach her, she seemed  so disturbed. I just could not leave her behind’

At this point the parrot started climbing up the old lady’s long dress. It climbed slowly holding on to the material with her two feet and reached the shoulder where Sarah-kuti comfortably stood. The old woman smiled. Sarah -kuti said something which only the owner understood. She smiled.

“she is like family to me”

The old woman and the parrot continued their conversation and I left them alone.  I had no camera to capture this ‘twogetherness’ but I had to write about them. It was so amazing that when she has lost everything Sarah- Kuti seems to be giving so much comfort to this lonely old lady.

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