The Grey Encounter


In October 1999, my brother and I stood gravely outside the school, fairly chilly but yet bundled up to the point of not exposing any flesh to the cold air, after witnessing numerous automobiles depart the school parking lot – we observed none that came in. We caught a sight of my father’s automobile and then saw him pulling into the parking lot after mumbling “hurry up” – we also caught a peek of my father’s buddy who was seated in the front seat.

We rushed towards the vehicle, unlocked the door, and stepped inside, when my father turned around and put his finger over his lips. We all peered into his friends’ laps, where a box sat, and within was a lovely grey bird. My brother wanted to touch it right away, but my father stopped him since it was just a baby and he didn’t want him to frighten it. On the trip back home, we discovered that this African grey parrot was now ours for life.

When we returned home, my father put the package on the table and instructed us to go upstairs and change, which we did within five minutes since we were so happy. We rushed downstairs, went to the box, sat on the table, and were going to brush the parrot when we saw it wasn’t there. Then I heard my father talking to someone in the living room – I realised that in our enthusiasm, we hadn’t checked the living room since our thoughts were fixed on the parrot.

As we ran into the living room, we were greeted by the parrot and a bright new cage that had taken up residence in one of the living room’s corners – it was quiet and bashful, and my father was chatting to it and petting it. We stayed there calmly for a few minutes, watching in awe as it peered, moved its head, then proceeded to “eat” his finger (more or so, licking his finger). My father’s buddy then urged us to step out of the way when we put the parrot on his finger and my father started feeding it parrot baby food. My brother and I were enthralled at this point – it was like a phenomena to us – to see this parrot eat down the food (in a hilarious way, we remarked) and demand more and more. To be honest, it reminded us of ourselves.

On that night, we all agreed on the name ‘Oscar,’ which was very ‘parrot-ish,’ according to my elder sister, but my mother was not so convinced. Especially because we don’t know if this is a boy or girl, she said.

When we were getting ready for bed, I approached my father, who was sitting on a chair, peering under his jacket. I peered through and spotted Oscar inside, appearing weary but desperate to remain awake in this man’s jacket. I then placed a couple huge Lego bricks on the floor and put my fingers up to Oscar’s feet – Oscar bit it first – not too hard, but just to test if this foreigner wasn’t a predator. My father hoisted her out and onto my arm, and after a few giggles, I let her fall to the floor to explore the Lego bricks. She went directly to the yellow and tried to eat it – after failing, she proceeded to the red and then the blue, then returned to the yellow block and tried to push it towards my father – as she passed me, she abandoned the yellow block and headed towards me.

After that event, I went back to my mother to tell her everything, only to have her say, “I don’t like the name Oscar.” Together, we chose on one she had read about.

We named our new parrot Lucky when we met him in the morning.

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