Breaking Free

by Patrick Liew on June 18, 2011

There was a time in my life when I suffered a heartbreak because of a Lady.

It happened when I was walking back from school one day. I saw a sparrow entangled in a bush.

By the time, I – the caring knight – rescued the bird which I subsequently called Lady, it was almost dead.

Lady was suffering, starving and sapped of the energy that supported its wild spirit. Its wings were badly clipped – and to a sparrow, its world might as well have ended.

I brought Lady home and was promptly thrown out of the house. There was no room in our poor family living in a small flat for even a small bird.

In desperation, I managed to borrow a cage and set up a home for Lady in one corner of the staircase. I even rallied my neighbours to help me look after and protect the new ‘resident’.

I nursed Lady like a forlorn lover trying to free his soul mate from the grip of death. Gently – very gently – I fed it and tried to help it recover from its pain.

As my affection and attachment for Lady grew, I could feel its pain resonating in my heart.

Every day when I returned back from school, I would lovingly gave Lady a ‘dry bath’, removing the dirt from its body with a slightly damp cloth.

Then, I would clean the wound with a cotton wool that I ‘stole’ from my mama’s first aid drawer. I knew fully well that I would have to face her judgement day in the near future.

What I did next would break my heart every time I did it. I would tenderly apply diluted iodine on the open wounds.

Lady would scream – I mean chirp – in pain and that always bring a tear to my eyes. I would clench my teeth and continue to apply my self-prescribed medicine.

In my little child’s mind, I remembered my mama’s words, “You must endure the bitterness of medicine to be cured”.

To strengthen Lady’s body, I would literally prepare a feast for it – three times per day – including feeding it with the juiciest worms. (I would have soaked the worms in ginseng or Brand’s Essence of Chicken if I could find them in our kitchen).

In the evening, I would convene a ‘Medical Council’ comprising the smartest kids in our neightbourhood. We would discuss our patient’s condition and brainstorm for ideas to restore Lady to good health.

I think it was during that period of time, I started to become a motivator.

I would speak to Lady ever so gently, encouraging her to hang on and to press forward to claim her best destiny. I believe I even sang to it but that brought more pain.

I did everything a child could do. And my heart was broken more than once whenever Lady did not respond to us or the medicine.

But the biggest heartbreak was yet to come.

As Lady strengthened physically; without us realizing it, she was suffering emotionally. In our eyes, Lady was gradually coming back to life but deep inside, its life was dying away.

Sometime between my leaving for school one morning and coming back in the afternoon, Lady died.

Without any warning. No last chirping. Lady just left us.

That day, my friends and I buried Lady in the nicest part of a park. There were few words spoken during the funeral.

(I like to tell you it was raining heavily and we were totally drenched. And all around us, sparrows joined in the ceremony. It may be a good story line to sell to Jack Neo or maybe, Hollywood).

I did not know what went through the minds of my friends. I was overwhelmed with grief for a while.

Must later, I was told that a sparrow cannot be kept in a cage. It would rather die than be imprisoned and lose its freedom.

I learned a lesson from Lady.

Every time I look at a sparrow, I will remember if I am willing to die for my dreams and freedom, very few obstacles can hold me back.

If I live up to my calling and the world knows I am totally committed to it, I will be able to soar higher and enjoy a better life.


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