She was black and small. Unbelievably small. Tiny wings with bones sticking out and little claws with soft nails that would grow to become razor sharp ones, ready to grab its prey. She was a bat. And a very small one at that.
We had no idea what kind of bat she was, what her diet was, or what kind of life she led or whether she was a female or a male!!(But I will go with ‘she’ here, because I am definitely what you would call, a feminist). But one thing we were sure about was that, she needed our help. We found her abandoned in our school, on the staircase leading up to our classroom, in danger of being trampled to death. Spotted and rescued by one of my friends, who was luckily the first to arrive at school that morning, he put her in a small petri-dish that he borrowed from the biology lab, and even lined it with cotton for better comfort, and put her in a dark closet in the lab. He took us to meet her as soon as we came into the classroom. It was love at first sight for all of us. We assumed that she had fallen off her mom’s back when they were out flying the previous night, and had lain there, helpless and broken, since. We christened her Twitter.
Throughout the day, we pampered her, taking it in turns to try and feed her some milk (that we assumed was her diet), and stayed by her side during all our breaks. As the day approached an end, we realised that we could not leave her at school, all alone again. There were lots of stray cats and dogs on the prowl and we did not want to take a chance. Luckily, one of my friends agreed to take Twitter home for the night. We were completely in the dark as to how to take care of her, what to feed her and how to make her condition better. Having no professional help at hand, we relied completely on Google and its suggestions of how to take care of a baby bat. But the things that showed up under the ‘what to feed section’ was too un-kosher for our liking. One of the suggestions was to cut out the head of an earthworm, and let the little one lick up (or rather, slurp) the flesh inside. Like I said, too un-kosher.
The next day was my turn to have her for the night. I brought her home in a little box that my friend had fashioned for Twitter’s comfort. She was asleep throughout the day. The only thing that indicated that she was still alive was the heaving of her little body, as she breathed in and out peacefully. As dusk approached, she started kicking about and moving around. My mom fished for an ink-filler to feed Twitter with, while I rigged up a mixture of mashed banana and milk. To our surprise, Twitter gobbled up a considerable amount of the mixture, and then, the games began. She climbed up and down my arm, her for-now soft fore-claws that are attached to the wings, digging into my skin for hold. I kept shifting her from one arm to another, as she tirelessly walked up and down. This went on for a taxingly long time, before she was finally exhausted, and went to sleep on my palm. Transferring her gently into her box, I kept her in our dark closet for the night, away from light and sound.
Early the next morning, my father, who is always the first to wake up, found her in front of the washing machine!! My Twitter had tried her hand at flying (or so I guessed)!! Transferring her gently into her box, I took her back to school. It was the 14th of November, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday, which is celebrated as Children’s day in India, after his love for children. There were celebrations going on at school, and we left twitter under my desk, in the corner. Coming back after a merry hour of dancing and singing, it was one of my friends who first noticed that something was wrong with Twitter. Crowding around her little box, we stood there helpless, fluttering to do something to save Twitter, as she lay there, her breathing troubled. But alas, all we could do was stroke her gently as she breathed her way to her end. We couldn’t take it anymore. My friend and I rushed to the washroom, clinging onto each other for support, wetting each others shoulders. My friend, who first found Twitter on the staircase, meanwhile, buried her in her little box, in our school garden.
I am reminded of her little presence and her lithe body, as she moved up and down my hands, every time I see a bat swoop to hunt in the dark, every time somebody even mentions the word ‘bat’.
Rest in peace, Twitter. Though we knew you for a mere two days, you will always live on in our hearts.