A merchant in Persia, received a gift from his friend. It was a green parrot in a beautiful golden cage. “I got this talking parrot especially for you from India. Just feed this parrot chilies and hear its beautiful songs,” said the friend.
One day, the merchant announced that he would be going on a trip to India. “What does everyone want?”
“Bring me a beautiful silk cloth,” said his wife.
“Toys! I want a toy cart which can follow me wherever I go,” said his daughter.
The merchant turned to the parrot, “What about you my friend? What do you want?”
The parrot sighed, “Master, if you see green parrots in India, will you please inform them that I alive and well? Tell them that I live in a big house in Persia in a cage.”
The merchant promised to pass on the message and left.
After finishing all his work in India, the merchant visited a garden. He came across a group of parrots. He walked up to them, “Friend parrots, I bring a message to you from one of your sisters. She was trapped here in India. But she now lives with me.”
One of the parrots flew and landed on the merchant’s shoulder. “Is that so?” it said, “We hope she is safe.”
“Oh yes! She lives in a beautiful golden cage. I feed her tasty food. She wanted you to know that she is alive and well,” said the merchant.
Hearing this, the parrot sitting on the merchant’s shoulder shivered and fell to the ground. The merchant was alarmed and tried wake up the parrot. But it lay still!
“What have I done?” he cried, “All I wanted to do was pass on a message. I didn’t know this parrot would die!”
The merchant slowly got up and left for home.
He was greeted at the door by his wife and daughter. He gave them the gifts he had brought for them. Then he turned to the parrot.
“Did you pass on the message to my friends? What did they say?” asked the parrot excitedly.
“I delivered the message like you asked me to. But after listening to it, one of your friends shivered and fell to the ground. I am afraid your friend died. I am so sorry,” said the merchant sadly.
The parrot went still. And then she too shivered and fell. The merchant cried out, “Oh my God! Why is this happening?”
He opened the cage door and gently lifted the parrot out. He felt sorry for his beloved bird.
He took the bird out to the garden to bury it.
After digging the hole, he turned to lift the bird. Just then, the parrot sat up and flew to on a nearby wall.
The merchant was both shocked and happy. “Friend parrot, I am so happy you are alive. But why did you fall down?”
“The parrot who fell down wasn’t actually dead. She was sending me a message,” said the parrot with a smile, “The open sky is any day better than a golden cage. She also showed the way to escape the cage.”
“I never realised that you were sad in the cage,” said the merchant, “Fly away, my friend. Fill the world with your beautiful song.”
The parrot flapped its wings and flew towards the open sky.
This story has been adapted from Rumi’s Masnavi. Rumi was a 13th Sufi mystic known for his poetic works.