Twittering gone awry

When one fiddles with nature’s logic and an experiment goes wrong, this is what it leads to mayhem and regret

By   |  Subrata Ray  |  Published: 9th Feb 2020  12:52 amUpdated: 8th Feb 2020  11:54 pm

Lion, the King of Dali forest, was very fond of birds. He roared often to make his presence felt by the denizens of the forest and loved to hear his roar reverberate through the woods. But, the bird sounds were music for him, and listening to them never failed to stir his mind and soul. He thanked God for giving him such a beautiful home where he had not only peace but also music. But then, as they said, there was nothing permanent in this world. Something happened soon thereafter that posed a threat to their very existence in the jungle.

Poachers entered the forest and killed animals for their hides and bones. As the king, Lion had to ponder over all possible ways to deal with the threat. Among them: Could the birds flying high up in the sky keep a close watch on things happening on the ground? Could they alert him whenever there was an act of intrusion? And could they have a common call to do this?

The king called all the birds of the forest one day. He said to them, “Friends, you all know what happened here a few days back. We’re facing a grave threat from outside. I’ve called you today because I believe you can help us in dealing with it. You see things from the top. You can also fly in and out of the forest any time. I’m counting on you to alert us at the right time. But the problem is, you don’t have a common call. Why can’t you all just tweet? When there’re poachers inside, you can warn us all by twittering.”

“But Your Majesty, Skylark warbles, Cuckoo sings, Sparrow chirps. Is it possible to make all of them tweet?,” said the Babbler. “You’ve to always walk an extra mile to do something new,” said Lion patronisingly. “You’ve to do it in the interest of others. Please train all those who don’t tweet to tweet,” he added.

Once the king made up his mind, the birds had no option but to fulfil his wishes. Cuckoos who normally sang learned to tweet. Babblers and Magpies took up the cause of teaching the bird community their tweeting skills. They trained the flocks of Flycatchers and Sparrows who initially resented it but later found it funny. Tweets came out with a lot of effort and they rehearsed together to master the art of twittering.

But there were others who could not make it despite their best efforts. Hornbills tried to tweet by twisting their long beaks, but it sounded more like mewing of a cat. Babblers tried their best to make them tweet, but they failed to make that cry and ultimately gave up. Peacocks and Parakeets could not do it either. They met near a stream and poured out their frustrations at the happenings in the forest. Peacocks lamented, “This tweeting thing is making us go mad. Our instincts make us special in something else – not tweeting. But who’ll convey our feelings to His Majesty?”

Jungle Fowls agreed with Peacocks, “Our duty is to wake you up in the morning. The only thing we can do is cock-a-doodle do. And nothing else.”

The birds who became expert in tweeting dominated the avian community in Dali. A tweet would start in one end, the ones in the middle would join in and those at the other end would pick it up, making it all throughout. There was renewed energy among the birds in the jungle. The king was pleased to see the change but, at the same time, was also concerned that such enthusiasm might distract them from their main objective. He cautioned the twittering birds, “See, you’re defeating the very purpose of this exercise. It was intended only to alert us in the face of threat. But you’ve made it into fun!”

“Please give us a chance. We will make amends,” most of the birds pleaded. “OK. Go into twittering mode only when there’s threat,” conceded the King.

Sadly, poachers cast their evil eyes on the forest once again. One day they entered the forest with a large net and trapped deer, blue bulls and even some birds in it and took them away. Peacocks and Jungle Fowls, who saw the poachers, gave out distress calls, but it was too late as by then the poachers had already executed their plans. The king called them over and asked, “How come they were here in broad daylight and no one tweets? Where are Babblers? Where are Magpies?”

“Your Majesty, we thought they were somewhere nearby and waited for them to raise the alarm! When we found no one doing anything, we started crying, but they were already in the net by then,” said the Peacocks. Lion was shocked to know later that Babblers and Magpies went to the other end of Dali to play a fun game of twittering.

The king felt a deep sense of remorse for forcing them into doing something that led to an unintended grave consequence for his animals. Tears welled up in his eyes. He realised that the solution to the problem had to be found, being within the order of nature and not fiddling with it. The birds of the forest were called again into his den. He ordered, “Go back to your old habits. Tweeting, chirping or singing  do what you do best. And whenever you see the enemy, make so much noise that all others can hear you and respond fast.”

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