I Love My Pigeons

by Arshavir Nazarian

I LOVE MY PIGEONS

When I was twelve years old, I used to stay on our old house roof close to my pigeons all day long. Summer was my favorite season. Schools were closed and nobody could push me to live the roof because of homework. I could spend as much time as I wanted with my beloved pigeons and dedicate the whole summer season to my birds. No matter how warm the day was, I stayed on hot roof and chasing my flying birds in sky until late afternoon. The sun burned me. The hunger shrank me, but the love and passion of this creature kept me with them. Even at night I preferred to sleep close to the loft of my pigeons. At the end of summer I looked like an African Masaie tribe bush man; black-tan and skinny-teen.

When fall came, my problem would start. Fall was school time and my attendance supposed to be in classroom not on the roof anymore. Ridiculously, it was just a routine for my parents to push me hard to get rid of my pigeons because of the school. The back and forth fight usually took for one week. During that horrible week I used to try all of my childish tricks to keep my birds. Food strike, running away from home and stay in grandmother's home for few days, stole dad's car key and keep it as hostage or any other stupid idea that could solve the case in my side, you name it.

Beside all these struggling, I had to do some unwilling, humiliation acts too. I had to gather some agree votes in my side. All long days of summer from early morning to late afternoon I made to many activities on our house roof which wasn't pleasant to our next door neighbors. Releasing the flyer pigeons at 5a.m with whistling and noise, throwing any materials in sky and waving dirty clothes in air encouraging them to go higher and higher and chasing them in sky until dark plus pigeons' feathers and drop outs on cars, on clean laundries and any thing and any where was no body's desire.

My pigeon care was a total disaster for all surrounding neighborhood for entire summer time. Because of hot summer nights all neighbors used to sleep on cool roof tops and base on natural instinct needs and necessities married couples supposed to do their pleasure activities at late night's darkness or around down far from anybodies sight. Since I was a full time dedicated general to my pigeon coop and care for them 24 hours on that watch tower roof; nobody had rest and nobody could do what ever they spouse to do.

To get those angry neighbors' positive vote during one week struggle was a hard task. I had to keep my pigeons inside of the loft and get disappeared from roof for few days. Worst than that, I had to go in street with clean clothes and say hello to everybody living around and ask politely if there is anything I could help them.

Beside all those struggling to get people's agreement regarding my pigeons care; I still had my major opponent and enemy which I had to get her agreement too. That was my older sister. Her positive vote could solve most of my problems; therefore I had to be very nice with her during strike days, which I did not like at all. I had to resign all my former victories and show her my kindness with awful humiliation.

In our last heavy fight I burned her entire match-box collection. She collected all those colorful match- boxes for many years and it was vary valuable for her. She used to show her collection to any guest visited our home with proud and honor. All our relatives knew about her match-box collection. When ever someone returned from an abroad journey brought some of foreign matches and that would be the best gift for her.

As I said, our last fight was very bloody. During that hard fight I had already lost some of my fortifications. To make the result of war in balance, I had no other choice but destruction of enemy's most valuable belonging. In the afternoon of second day of our war, when all the victories seamed to be in my sister's side, I attacked to her match-box collection. I gathered all the match boxes in the middle of yard and before my sister or my mother could do anything to prevent the plan, I lit the fuse. In a quick moment, a massive explosion changed the entire result of the war. Neither my sister's sour eye drops and bitter screams nor my mother's curses in that gun powdered smoky air could effect on my fascinating victory.

The damage that I made for my sister was hard and unfixable. Even though she tried to destroy some of my belongings as revenge, but she never tried or dared to do even a single action against my pigeons. Even she knew that the smallest harm against my pigeons could make the worst response, which could be absolutely unforgivable and incurable.

It was almost impossible to clear the effect of that wound from my sister's hearth. How could I reach her agreement about keeping the pigeons on my side? What kind of negotiation or promise could comfort her to give a positive vote on my case? I was totally alone and my parents were strongly aggressive on their request.

All my negotiations and tricks until their requested due date were totally failed. Finally, I gathered all my strength and willpower and as my last bullet in that war, I declared an ultimatum to my parents, " No pigeons, no school!". Of course the opposite troops never resigned that easy, but after promising some beautiful and far beyond promises to me; we, both parties came to an agreement. According to peace agreement, I could keep only and just only one pair of my pigeons. Instead, I promised a hard study schedule for entire headed school season and pass the classes with high scores. Resistance was not useful any more and I had to agree all terms of that peace agreement; even though it was really hard for me to get rid of thirty pigeons at once and just keep two of them.

Autumn's rainy days was passing slowly. I had just two pigeons and there was not much to do with just two birds. Feeding them in afternoon, watching them for a while and that was it. However, my father's weekly check of the loft had not given any chance to think about breeding and increasing the number; with less pigeons, I had fewer activities on the roof; therefore I spent more time on studying schools' lessons and doing homework.

My fall first semester scores were unbelievably high. That proved that I was not a stupid as mostly my sister called me. In the contrary, according to our science class instructor Ms. Anoosh opinion, I was a genius who needed special care. She also predicted that, I could reach high statues in future generation, who knows what? As long as my low educated parents did not exactly know how they spouse to take care of a genius; the only solution they could find was to push me study harder and harder. Day after day I became more silence and sad. I did not know the main reason. Was that came from my missing pigeons or the reason was my raising knowledge. As the Proverb of Solomon says "plenty of knowledge makes the man sad".

It was mid autumn and I was still busy with my school mid term exams and the sad mud was still my companion. On the way of school to home of a windy afternoon, our neighbor's eldest son, Sooren happened to me. He asked me did I still keep pigeons or not. Keeping just two pigeons was not good for my credit history, so without mentioning the number of my birds I answered, yes. Then he said that in his business shop he used to keep six pigeons and then he had to move to a new location where he could not keep the birds. He asked me if I would have liked to keep the birds for my own. Sweet Jesus, I was totally unarmed and unprepared for such a temptation. Without evaluation of further subsequences I replied, "of course" Then we went close to his car, he opened the back side of his car and put in my hand a big noisy box. I asked "how many are they?" he said "six good flyers, four hens and two cocks".

My heart beat was high and I was much exited to see what was inside the box. I went to the home. I was very nervous. No one should have seen me. With strong anxiety, I carried the box into the basement and put it in a safe place. I opened the box gently and had a quick look inside. Six beautiful angels were watching me fearfully. My smell wide opened. I closed the box again and carefully checked all around. Thank God, no one had seen me. I jumped out quickly and entered in to the home and acted just like everyday routine.

After dinner, I had to finish my homework, but I was not present. In my imagination, I was managing the transfer of the pigeons from the basement to the roof. If my parents would saw the birds, they would become angry and they would take all my bird away, even the old couples were in danger. I decided to accomplish the plan at late night, when our entire household was slept.

At first night my transaction plan failed, because my father came home too late from work and I could not resist my mother's grumble to stay awake for long time. Next day, at school, all the time I was thinking about the pigeons and how hungry and thirsty they were and how should had I to change their location. When returned home from school, I just had the chance for a short visitation from new birds, but transaction failed. I could not even feed them or gave them some water, because the basement was totally dark and they had not visibility to peak the seeds or drink water. In the other hand if they became full of seed, they would started their regular sounds and every body would known what was going on down there.

The path that I had to carry the box to the stair ways and to the roof was from the center of our home and it was always busy by household and they always monitoring me to see how many time in one day I went up; if I claimed more than couple of time, then they would had known that something was wrong.

The next day was holyday and the day after was weekend and schools ware off. It was a good opportunity to found a short clearance during long day and pass the box from the check point to the top and enjoy two days with my pigeons. I had predicted all problems variations and had all solutions in my mind. For the worst case scenario I had my final winner solution in my head; I would carry the birds without the box by covering them in my clothes.

I was exited and could not sleep for whole night. All the night I was seeing pigeons flying dreams. At morning, my mother woke me up. It was 9a.m I could not believe I stayed on bed that long. She asked me to dressed quickly and help my Dad to carry some camping goods inside the car. I asked what was going on. She said that we were going to go to uncle Petros' suburb garden. I was shocked. That was the worst news someone gave me after waking up in the morning. I said "no way" sadly. She said "why? I thought you would be happy as usual". How could I say what was going on in my mind? I could not ask to stay at home. I knew they would not allow a twelve years old energetic boy like me stay alone at home.

Strong brain storm in my head started. The question was how I could deliver some water to those six poor fellows. That was the third day they did not drank any water and any delay more than that would had been fatal. According to my experience, they could pass two more day of hungriness, but trustiness would kill them. I gathered all my intelligence. I did not have too much time. If I carried any water container in to the basement they would see in my hand and everything would ruin.

Finally I found the solution. I went to the kitchen and took the dishwashers sponge, washed it quickly and let it suck some water and put it in a plastic bag and put the whole thing in my pocket. Then I took the small camping carpet and carried in to the yard and gave it to my father and as a trick I asked him "can I bring my ball?" he said "yes, way not? Go and grab it" I went to the basement quickly and opened the pigeons' box "Thank God they are still alive". I put the wet sponge inside the box and closed it again then I grabbed the ball from the basement corner and went out. I knew even in darkness pigeons could fill the existence of water and if they could suck a couple of drops from that sponge, they would be alive.

We spent that day in my uncle Petros garden. As usual I had lot of fun playing with my cousins, but in the mean time part of my mind was still working about the six fellows in the basement.

Around night we were at home again. Everybody was tired. After I took heavy camping equipments out of the car, my father let me to do the rest of reloading and he went in to drink tea. As soon as I became alone in the yard I went in to the basement and opened the box. The birds were alive and fine. Quickly I took the birds one by one and put them under my shirt. Of course they were not comfortable but it was temporary. I went out of basement and grabbed my jacket from the car and wear it over my shirt as an additional coverage and fast and quickly went into the house, toward stairways. Finally I catch the last step of the stairway, nobody noticed me. I went on the roof and opened the door of loft. I put the new comers inside of the loft and closed the door and went downstairs quickly to finish the reloading work. I was happy. The transfer was accomplished successfully.

On Friday, I got up at early morning. It was weekend and according to peace agreement between me and my parents, I had the right to spend some time with my pigeons. I went to the roof. The whether was little chilly, but calm and a lazy sun shine made some hope for a better condition to me. I put some seeds from food storage and went toward the loft. Pigeons became exited. I opened the door of the loft in half because all new comers had their full feathers and could escape. I dropped a little bit of seeds on the loft ground. The six new comers attacked to seeds. Staying four days in basement without food, they were starving. I took the water jar from the loft and put some fresh water, but they had already broken their thirstiness and desperately wanted some food.

I was just thinking to choose to cut their feathers or tide them with cotton strings, when I felt some one was stranded behind me. It was my sister, she had come to say join them for breakfast but when she saw what was going on inside of the loft; a devil smile appeared on her face and without any word she returned quickly to down stairs. She was carrying big news for my parents. A news that could fulfill her revenge just in one shout.

I was upset. What I had to do? In short moments my father would be there and cached me with eight pigeons would be the end of my relationship with my birds. Without thinking about the subsequences of my action, I opened the door of the loft widely and dropped some seeds on the flour of the roof. The pigeons jumped out of the loft toward seeds hurry. I could here my father's heavy steps sound on stairways. I spread another feast of seeds on the ground. The hungry pigeons ran all around to pick those seeds. My father with companionship of bad messenger reached the roof and stand beside me. Opposite of my father's angry face, my sister looked very happy.

He took a quick look on pigeons then looked at my eyes angrily. He asked "what are these"? I said "what"? He became angrier, because I put his intelligence under question. He said "how come two pigeons became eight"? "What was our agreement"? I said that I still kept my promises and those six pigeons were not mine. "Then who's are they" he asked me. I said "I do not know". "I came on the roof this morning and they were here". "You mean you did not bring these pigeons"? My father asked curiously. I answered no. In the mean time I was dropping more seeds for them and they were eagerly picking up. Then my sister jumped in to the conversation and said "he is lying, If they are not yours then fly them to go". The smart devil had already learned from me that for new pigeons it takes almost three weeks to become familiar with the location; with these trick she wanted to heat me with hardest strike. I said "I do not care, let them fly". My cool answer put my father in doubt. He ordered my sister to fly the birds. What else could make her happier than that order? Suddenly, she ran toward pigeons with loud and sharp scram and waved her hands as fast and scary as she could. Poor creatures took off from the ground like racket and spread all around the air.

My two old pigeons were adapted enough with the location and had many flying hours in their record, so they find each other very soon and started to fly in regular circles almost fifty meters above the roof; but the six new pigeons were totally confused and had been flying separately without knowing which direction to choose. I was angry and worry but tried to keep myself cool. I said you see Dad they were not mine, now they gone. He believed me and asked to join them for breakfast. We left the roof and went down stairs for breakfast. I looked to my sister's face she was confused. She did not know whether she actually won the battle up there or not.

After breakfast I went back to the roof. It was weekend and they could not stop or complain on me. As soon I reached the roof, I took a look to sky. Shortly I found a kit of eight pigeons in the heart of the sky. Were they my pigeons? I had doubt. I grabbed the binocular and watched the kit accurately. Two of the eight flying birds were definitely mine because I was familiar with their wings color pattern, but the other six were strangers. I could not believe what I was watching. Were the six birds in flying kit same six new comer birds took off from our roof or they were some other close fans pigeons from neighborhood? How could six strangers, totally unfamiliar with the aria, fly on the top of my roof, so cool, like they belong to me since many years ago? The only way to found out was to see them where they would land.

I had no other pigeons to show the flyers as landing sign; therefore I put the water bowel in the center of roof and dropped some water in it. The pigeon kit exploded. They were watching me as well and tried to response my sign. Then I sat down and shaking my hand, pretending that I offered them food. Little by little they reduced their altitude and came down and down. They came close enough that I could recognize my two oldies clearly. The other six were still with them. I was getting much exited. I continued my gentle hand shaking, after some beautiful tumbles they came closer and fallowing two oldies all six new comers one after another land on different sides of the roof. My heart beat was high. That time, I dropped some reel seed on the ground and they recognized the food. Rashly they jumped down and land on the flat ground where the seed was and started eating.

I was happy and exited. I dropped some seeds inside the loft and they fallow the direction. After couple of minute all eight pigeons were in the loft. I dropped plenty of food for them and put some fresh water and closed the door. I knew none of my fellow pigeon fan friends had ever had such an experience. I was proud of myself and my pigeons.

I don't know what is inside of these birds but something beautiful, something addictive, something spiritual attached me badly to them something pure as love. If I could keep them for additional three mounts without my parents noticed them; then spring and Iranian New Year, NO ROOZ would come, which is the end of school season and I could enjoy the companionship of those nice creatures for the rest of holydays. To fulfill my dreams, first I had to establish a long time peaceful relationship with my sister as a back up for my plan. Any way she was not a bad person at all, After giving some cheep gift to her and behave little nicer, she would became a faithful cooperator.

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