“Good afternoon!” That is how Bejo always greets each guest coming to my house. Even before they knock on my door or press the doorbell, Bejo has greeted them first.
Sorry, I forgot to tell you that Bejo is the name of my bird. He is a friendly bird and, to be a little bit more specific, 'talkative,' I might say. He is a bird called a myna that, like a parrot, always imitates what people say.
Bejo has belonged to our family for more than one month. My father bought him from an old man who wanted to use the money to buy medicine for his sick son. Bejo cheers our household. All of us like Bejo, he is a smart bird and very good at imitating whatever we say. Bejo not only imitates what we say word-for-word, but the way we talk as well, distinctly in a clear voice, hoarse or soft voice. My father forbids us to teach Bejo any bad words such as nasty words, cursing, abusive words, or mocking. My father reminds us, "If the bird knows a certain word, then he will say that over and over and we will hear it all the time from the bird."
Bejo has become a 'star' in our home and we talk about him nearly always among family and friends of ours because of his ability to imitate what we say.
Actually, behind our pride about this bird, we also get annoyed with it due to having to take care of it. It is my job to clean Bejo's cage and to feed him, as this was ordered by my father. Only on Sundays does my father also participate in cleaning his cage, feeding and bathing him. As our housemaid, Jumi's, tasks are quite many, I am responsible for every chore concerning Bejo. The bird only gets a mix of rice and any kind of food we provide it. We also give Bejo 'sambal' or hot spice made of chili so his voice will be clear.
I took on this responsibility with some unwillingness. My father noticed it. "You should be grateful for having such a clever bird," he said. It was lucky we bought Bejo. "I will help you on Sunday," father said. I might as well take the responsibility of caring for Bejo, I think to myself. I take a stick with me each time I come to the cage because Bejo always wants to peck me. Bejo is really a smart bird. It took him only a few days of my carrying the stick, and now Bejo jumps happily on it whenever I feed him or give him something to drink.
One day my father and the whole family went to see my sick grandmother. The reason I had to stay home was that there was nobody else to feed Bejo and it was the days for testing at my school, so I was not allowed to go with them. On that particular afternoon, I was watching TV and the housemaid ran some errands to the nearby shop to buy some rice. She purposely waited for me to return from school so there would be somebody at home. While I was busy watching an interesting program on the television, I heard somebody forcefully open the front gate. At first I thought that Jumi had come home, but I saw there were two young men entering our yard. They walked suspiciously and I was sure they were thieves. They split up. One man went to the garage, the other one was watching the veranda.
My hands and feet were trembling. I was at a loss. Thieves entered my home and I was alone. I did not know what to do. The kitchen door was forcefully opened. By the time Bejo heard the noise, he automatically cried loudly as usual, "Good afternoon!" There was silence for a moment. "Who is it?" Bejo said as if it was the voice of our servant Jumi complete with a voice like hers. I tried to peek at him through the curtain. The thief ran from the kitchen to the veranda to meet his friend. "You said there was only one person and no one else, but I heard there is someone! Come on, let us run before we are caught," one of them said. Then they ran away. They thought the voice of Bejo was Jumi's voice. Bejo had saved our house from being robbed. I was so thankful. Bejo had done a big thing. He saved our house from thieves.
That very night my father, mother, and all of my family members came home and brought back the good news that Grandmother was up and around again. I told them the story that Bejo had saved our house from being robbed, and how he made those two thieves run away. They all laughed to hear it. "What a smart bird!" I was proud because I am the one who feeds the bird.
- To learn more about the Hill Myna