Being Superhero

I was driving home with my wife one evening, and cruising at around 40 mph, and suddenly a pigeon flew directly into our car. Its death was certain, but my super-hero senses reacted quickly and I swerved the car, nearly causing an accident. But I saved the pigeon’s life. Although the sudden events caused a shocked expression on my wife’s face, as I eventually explained the importance of saving life – one of the several prime directives of a super hero – she understood it. Similarly lives of several rabbits that jump in front of my car are saved -with superhero sense reaction-, while I drive early morning to office (which is close to a reserved green belt area).

I am a super hero in disguise, and I do save lives at will. From parrots to cats and rabbits to humans, I have seen them all and saved several of their lives. My story of being a super hero is not overnight, where I was bitten by a radiated bed-bug (imagine the plight of spiderman, had he been bitten by a bedbug than a spider) or came from another planet. The comic book superheroes are good in the books they are in… comic books. Real superheroes are very much unlike that. I know because I am a trained one. It was gradual process of discovery and training, till I became a fully qualified superhero. Being one is not easy, you have to take lessons to be one and the lessons are tough. The first lesson itself was not easy to begin with.

It all began several years ago. One evening, my brother brought home a parrot whose wings were clipped. The parrot was given by his friend who claimed to have caught it. That parrot looked miserable. The cage seemed too small for the parrot to be in. I sometimes do wonder if we brothers were brought up with wrong moral codes. Who else in this world will be brought up on an ideal of non-violence and compassion, that too, during the present time.

Either way, the caged parrot was too much for us. The super-hero element in us awakened that day. We need to save this parrot, make it free. We didnt cry out “freeedom… Libertyyyy…” like the great american hollywood heroes, but we did want to set the bird free, even though the bird’s wings were clipped. We took the cage to our neighbour’s fence, beyond which was this huge unkempt garden; nothing less than a jungle for us. It was unanimously decided that it was the place where we will set the bird free. I held the cage while my brother opened it to set it free into the wilderness. The only thing that we didn’t notice was the cat hiding behind the bushes watching us. As the parrot took the first hops of freedom, the cat leapt and within a flash caught the parrot and disappeared. We stood there shocked and looking stupid.

Super-hero lesson 1 : Don’t interfere with others lives. What you might think will be a good deed might turn out real bad.

The second lesson was even tougher. This happened later during my school days. Our school was around a mile and a half from our home, and mom used to hand over two 10 paise coins for our bus fare (in kerala the bus fares are lower for students). She very well knew that we will be pocketing that money to buy ice-sticks during lunch break, the plain ones which cost 10 paise and the semia-ice-stick cost 15 paise. The walk to the school will go through interior roads where I would meet my friend Manikandan half-way, who will be my company and bench-mate in the school. The return also inevitably took the same route.

It was one of the evening during the monsoon season while returning from school that I noticed it. This was long time after the parrot lesson. Manikandan had reached home and I was doing the last half mile lone stretch, when I found the little kitten alone and lost, drenched in rain on the road. Its meow itself got drowned in pitter-patter of the rain. It was cold and shivering. I had to help him. I picked him up, dried him using my school bag and carried him in one arm, the other arm holding the umbrella, walking with a bit of urgency back home.

At home, no questions were asked as I explained the whole story, and my mom and brother ensured that it had a home, with lot of dry jute bags and warm milk that mom gracefully provided. After watching over it for some time, we left it to rest. The next morning the cat had disappeared, it was not to be found anywhere. Frantic searches by myself and my brother yielded no results. “It might have gone back to its mother” our mom tried to console us. But still it was indeed mysterious that the small kitten could disappear and that too in the monsoon season.

We found the kitten eventually – well its lifeless body, to be precise, the next day. He had walked over the wall and probably fallen into our house well. We saw the brown side and the white underbelly of the kitten in the well floating still, while my dad and others were trying to get the body out. Pottassium permangenate was used to clean the well, but no one scolded us.

Super-hero lesson 2 : Don’t you understand thick head – Don’t interfere with others lives. What you might think will be a good deed might turn out real bad.

The third lesson also came soon. While I liked cats, my brother liked dogs. One day while he came back from school (we travelled separately with different groups of friends), he had brought a small pup. A very lovely and lively pup it was, as it played with us wagging its tiny tail. Mom was there with a saucer full of lukewarm milk, the only thing that was remaining was a name for the dog. Since my brother brought it home, he decided to name it after his favourite West Indies bowler – Micheal Holding. Our dog was since known as Holding.

We kept him tied in the mornings and let him free at nights, where he would go to the neighbour’s unkempt jungle-like garden and get some bones, dropped off either by birds or cats. We built it a big cage and our milkman – whom we all called kaakka – gave it a saucer full of milk every morning. Then one day he disappeared, our calls to Holding early in the morning didn’t bring a hyperactive-licking-the-face-jumping-all-over-you-dog, it just brought silence. He was never to be seen again. That was the third lesson.

Super-hero lesson 3 : Repeat of lesson 1 & 2 Don’t interfere with others lives. You have the right to delude yourself that you are helping others by doing something, but don’t delude yourself by thinking that it will always workout the way you want.

The story continues from there, several such lessons were given during the training. The ‘conditioning’ of the training is such that you start thinking and acting like a superhero naturally. I could go on and on about the lessons one by one, but it’s forbidden – as each one has to learn their own lessons. I am learning mine, being a full fledged superhero is just one part of that learning process, and the lessons continue. I would want to give you more of the training details, but I have to rush. There are some lives to be saved, you see. See you in a moment.