Elizabeth and Paul

To my 11 year old daughter, Kaveri

You left for India last night leaving me in NYC.  Really missing your  laughter.

Luckily I have friends here, with whom I will spend emotional time . Not defined as just being ‘truthful’ or honest, but going beyond that. Becoming vulnerable.  Vulnerability is the essence of a real relationship  between people.  Vulnerability is the essence of your  relationship with yourself, with God, with everything. Become so vulnerable that you become like water. Accepting of everything,  And then let go of everything in its flow.

Here’s a story for you.

There was a little girl that fell in love with two pigeons. One was a beautiful white pigeon, and the other shades of blue and green and grey. She named the white one Elizabeth and the other one Paul. Everyday she would rush back from school just as the shadows of the afternoon were getting softer and longer. Elizabeth and Paul would flutter together and sit on the sill of the bedroom the little girl shared with her younger  brother.  Not facing towards the bedroom but always towards the backyard of the house.  There they would sit in a very regal manner. Facing outward gently speaking to each other in what the little girl called ‘gooterrr- goon’.

The little girl was convinced that Elizabeth and Paul came from the kingdom of  ‘Gooterr – goon’ and had lost their way.  She would rummage through the store house of the kitchen and feed them with any seeds she could find.  Of course being an Indian household, it was full of lentils, grains and seeds of all varieties. So there was no shortage of food for them.  Every evening at 4 o’clock the little girl would start a conversation with the Elizabeth and Paul.  She would make the guttural sounds of ‘gooterr- goon’ and they would respond back. She was convinced they were trying to tell her something, and if she would learn their language, she could help them.

No amounts of arguments from her parents that the pigeons just came for the food would convince her otherwise.  The fact is that when her little brother would try to go ‘gooterr-goon’ with them , Elizabeth and Paul would just fly away.  She would show the family the hundreds of pigeons that would fly back  to their homes every evening, and ask why only Elizabeth and Paul would come to see her.   Soon the family became used to their little daughter going ‘Gooterr-goon’ every evening. A sort of ritual. And the pigeons became accepted as part of the family. They would fly away to wherever pigeons go, and come back the next day at the same time.

Till one day Elizabeth, the white pigeon, never came back. Paul would be there, looking lost and lonely. But not Elizabeth. The little girl would go out and shout at all the pigeons that would fly by and go ‘Gooterr-goon’ as loud as possible. It was then that the family realized how familiar they had got to Elizabeth and Paul’s visits.  As they watched their little girl come back with tears in her eyes because Elizabeth had not come, they would hug her and all pray that Elizabeth was fine and happy wherever she was.

Then one day Elizabeth did come back. She looked sad and weak. And when the little girl went ‘Gooterr – goon’ at her Elizabeth would not respond. To her shock the little girl realized why. Somebody had shot Elizabeth. The lead pellet from the air gun was still embedded in her throat.  Anything that Elizabeth pecked at would just come out of her throat. It was miracle she was still alive.  It was a horrific sight and the little girl panicked and thought Elizabeth was going to die, and that she had come back to the little girl asking to help.  The whole family was distraught.  They all realized how much they too had come to love the pigeons.

The little girl’s father was one of Delhi’s more famous doctors. Unable to take Elizabeth’s suffering he took her into his surgery, and cleaned her wounds. He took out the pellet that some unthinking cruel person has shot her with. To that person it was just a game, a sport. But to Paul, Elizabeth was his companion. To the little girl, her best friend. To the family now, a a precious life that needed to saved.

I still remember how my father gently cleaned the wound, and then stitched together Elizabeth’s wounds, saying words of comfort to my sister.  But because I was a ‘man’ he would look me in the eyes. The expression telling me that there was little chance for Elizabeth surviving. I remember my mother bringing Elizabeth into our prayers every night.

Elizabeth did survive. I watched in wonder as her wound healed, as the wound of a human being would. The family stood around happily on the day Elizabeth could finally eat without the seeds spilling out of her throat. She never got her ‘Gooter-goon’ quite back, but she was active again and could fly as she did before. I have never worked out how my father, a pediatrician, could operate on a pigeon and heal her, but will always remember Elizabeth for bringing such joy to our  family.

So dear kaveri. The grandfather you only remember as a much older man struggling with age, was once the most compassionate doctor I have ever seen. Your aunt, my sister, once a little girl consumed with fantasies, dreams, love and life, now coming to terms with the experiences of life.  Remember that compassion is the greatest gift of them all.

136 Responses to “Elizabeth and Paul”

  1. Chandra Shekhar says:

    *What a beauty of a “GIFT” a Father would ever give to his daughter Kaveri, who happens to b a part of the Family ‘Gooter-goon’ …!
    *It reminds me of a Mother-Squirrel, who used to play with me in her own ways, wanted to convey a message, which she did by giving ‘birth’ to two, inside the nest which she had built for her ‘kids’ on our
    Ventilator, such that they cud b protected from Crows, wild-Cats and one fine day when the two grew-up, i handed them over to HER on a branch of a Tree, from where She took them to her safest-place…!!
    *The biggest message is, all living-beings do ‘convey’ in some form or the other … all one needs is to
    take that much PAIN to understand their version of PAIN …!!!
    *Beautifully described …
    reg.,
    Chandra

  2. Cinda says:

    ~ A u m ~

    beautiful share…compassion is the water of love

    Blessings to this love you share with your daughter, Shekhar,

    Cinda

  3. Never Are Voices So Beautiful As On A Winter’s Evening, When Dusk Almost Hides The Body….And They Seem To Issue From Nothingness With A Note Of Intimacy Seldom Heard By Day. /Virginia Wolf

  4. austere says:

    Wow.
    Thank you. for a beautiful start to my day.
    On this paush poonam day when I mourn the passing of one year, a special thank you for opening up the pores.

  5. Nimi says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful, touching story, na incidence. It went right through the heart evoking all the gentle emotions and filling eyes with the same… water…
    Thanks again for this rich article. Your daughter is indeed blessed.

  6. Uma says:

    I needed it..Thank you very much Sir.

  7. a masterpiece happens to be in the real, simple and beautiful way of storytelling…Blessed are the Blessed indeed.. you are truly “I’m Shekhar!”

  8. Nasreen says:

    touching and inspiring. all the more special to me as my 7 year old is very very compassionate. she also has a vivid imagination. she loves listening to stories. tonight this will be her bedtime story. not only will this story entertain her and set her imgination soaring it will also show how wonderful the fruits of compassion are. thank you 🙂

  9. Yatin says:

    Superb story sir. Now I know why I love your stories so much. So much filled up emotions. Imaginations which are very much near to reality.

    Got a very good story to share wid my l’l princess.

    Thank you.

  10. Rajalakshmi says:

    Wow !

    Beautiful ! Touched my heart right from your first word…reminded me of the letters my father used to write to me….when I was in medical college.

    Saying exactly what you are telling your daughter now- Compassion is everything; kindness, love, courage to be vulnerable, wisdom, grace and everything that truly matters in life, comes from that.

    Compassion – The only thing that human beings, sadly, have to remind themselves these days is what makes us all human in the first place.

    Thank you, and God Bless you and your daughter !

  11. Summaiya says:

    The story brought tears to my eyes. I have two crows of my own who come at the same time everyday and go ‘kaan-kaan’ at my balcony sill. They are probably from the lost kingdom of ‘kaan’!

  12. Debjani Banerji says:

    Lovely!

  13. Chandana says:

    Wonderful…one of the most beautiful stories i have ever read !

  14. samira says:

    Sir..thanks a lot for sharing such a beautiful story..truly touched..keep writing..God Bless!

  15. priya says:

    A heart touching story.Thx for teaching us luv and compassion

  16. Rajesh says:

    yGreat piece, a story of compassion to your daughter, she is truly blessed, thanks for the little story, Shekar

  17. Kuntesh Desai says:

    Too good .. bought tears to my eyes….

    Thank you

    Kuntesh Desai

  18. Nitin says:

    it was an amazing story with lots of inspirations and worth reading. It makes me remembers how my younger brother looked out of a small stray dog in our street and even got the clothes and all in the worst winters of Northern India.

    The dog became like a family for few years and one day the dog lost its battle with life as some other big dog of our neighbor frighted with him while we were away. It was the saddest day and i still have those memories when every one used to pay with the cute dog.

  19. Neha says:

    A beautiful story told by a master storyteller 🙂

    Love to Kaveri

  20. Rakesh Yadav says:

    A beautiful narrative of a touching tale…. The best level a bedtime story could reach … thnx for sharing this Mr. Kapur.

  21. AJ says:

    Real Jewel …

    “Compassion is the greatest gift of them all.”

    Keep it up Dear SK

  22. Meenu Rai says:

    very touching and emotional story. i’ll narrate the same to my angel, my daughter.

  23. Anil Kumar says:

    words are not enough to express my feelings. You made my day.
    Thanks Shekar,
    Anil, Chikkaballapur, Karnataka

  24. Shaiq Ali Khan says:

    Beautiful!! Sir you dont cease to amaze. Compassion does transcends all borders!

  25. pooja nair says:

    When the story suddenly turns into first person, is the most beautiful part of the story. My eyes welled up. Lovely lovely writing!

  26. Ranabir says:

    At my parents’ place in Delhi, there were these two birds who would arrive every evening and spend the night at the top edge of a window, nicely sandwiched between that and the roof and fly off in the morning even before we were up. We called them ‘birdies’. It was a delight to see them when I got back from home in the evening, and on days they weren’t there, the evenings were not the same. Now that house is gone, hopefully the ‘birdies’ come home every evening.

  27. Anshuman Negi says:

    I often pondered over it and found that Vulnerability and Compassion are indeed two beautiful processes which is necessary for our spiritual growth. But one has to be really strong to keep going that way. It needs to be backed with stupendous conviction in ourselves, stupid it may sound, but has to be that way.

    Beautiful tale. Loved it. One can’t think of a better gift for one’s daughter.

  28. Gulab says:

    Very emotional and tender story.Reminded me of my month long affair with a wasp who would hover around the kitchen when ever tea was being brewed.It would suck at the sieved tea leaves and i woul take utmost care not to disturd it.I cried the day day i found it,how shoul i say,breathing its last.I preserved its mortal remains for as long as i could..25 years back.

  29. deepika says:

    this was beautiful. weaves in an offspring delicately with one one has sprung from — and what weave more beautiful as compassion. such a sensitive connect with a grandparent .. i’d consider it a responsibility of us the ones who form the link to them. a flow of love .. sensitivity .. warmth.
    as a parent .. i remain vulnerable even to my now adult children. and as a parent again .. i seem to understand where this comes from too .. this sharing of a story with a daughter ..

  30. Naresh says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Story depends on how we tell and cannot be better than this, teaching love and compassion. I am sure my 5 year old son will like this bedtime story tonight.

  31. Naseem says:

    supern n toaching

  32. sunaina sen says:

    thank you, sekhar.
    your story brought freshnes in midst of scandal, politics, grafts and grey skies. do keep writing.

  33. Suresh Bajad says:

    This was one of the most heart touching , remarkable and commendable story i’ve read in last few months. Its so well narrated then i can imagine Elizabeth and Paul in front of me with Kaveri.

  34. jmbhatt says:

    Thanks Shekhar, for sharing this narration. The poignant message delivered so subtly shall never go ignored. Kudos indeed!!

  35. Pratik Bandyopadhyay says:

    Mr Kapur,
    Very touching story. Reminded me of my childhood and my father who passed away a few months ago. Thanks a lot for reviving my departed father’s memories.
    Regards.

  36. Himanshu Saini says:

    I feel that compassion is contagious and reading your little story will touch readers as it did to me. Thanks for making world a little more compassionate . 🙂

  37. Naseem says:

    Superb n Touching

  38. atul says:

    like your attitude.
    story writting is nothing but an art and you are champian in it.
    thumbs up

  39. Jigar Doshi says:

    wonderful description of emotions 🙂
    loved it to the core..
    so touching and inspiring.
    especially loved the “compassion” and “water” description…! 🙂

  40. Aditya Agnihotri says:

    Nice!

  41. Vandana says:

    Shared it on my facebook page too… hope to reach more people Shekher!
    http://www.facebook.com/eSvasaIndia

  42. NK says:

    Beautiful lesson of compassion, dreams childhood and growing old, touching and true.

  43. manish says:

    Thank you sir for such a nice story . I am sitting in the hospital near my 6 year old daughter . The first thing i will do tommorow is to tell her this story.

  44. israr says:

    super duper like

  45. bibhu bhuyan says:

    its an amazing story.Brought smile n tears in my eyes..Only a beautiful mind can create such emotion…

  46. Nicky says:

    Touching story. Reminded me of “Wringer” by Jerry Spinelli.

  47. Adv Desi says:

    Good Story – Listening and Reading to stories for several years.

    Story #191042 – No one really follows it – will forget soon. Thanks.

  48. shefali says:

    awwwe…this is sotouching, reminds me of my darling Gattu…he is 15 yrs old pet, my daughter saved him and brought at home from her school…just 5 days old pup…eyes still closed and bleeding all over…today, we all are together…and blessed! he made us all more human..

  49. Ankit Agrawal says:

    Gootarr Goo’n Gootarr Goo’n

    Something different Something new……like fresh dawn in between cold days.

    Thank you for this heart touching story.

  50. anusha says:

    Beautiful.

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