There he stood tall, glistening in the sun, right in the middle of the city. The statue of The Bard was one of the only things the city was proud of, and its people looked up to it. Legend says, The Bard was one of the greatest poets across the seven seas. His fame had spread far and wide and learned men from countries beyond border would come only to see him for a fleeting moment. He wrote songs and sonnets praising the land he was born in, the great land he was so in love with. And the people loved him for that. After his death, the men in power built a golden statue of The Bard and planted it right in the middle of the city—his robes were made of gold plates, in place of his eyes were two sapphires, in his hand he held a ruby encrusted medal, symbolic of an award he had won. He was The Bard everyone loved, he was the source of their pride.
But years have passed since the statue was placed. Men in power have come and gone, people have changed and so has the Bard’s beloved city. One particularly stormy evening, a little sparrow, unable to fly back to his nest, took refuge just at the feet of the Bard.
“Only until the storm passes,” he thought to himself. “And in no time I will be off to my nest!”
The city around the sparrow was drenched in the rain, but he managed to remain dry. He smiled for his clever act, as if a small pat on his shoulders, and began enjoying the rain.
Swoshh! A large drop of water almost washed him off the foot of the statue. He barely managed to hold himself up and then there was another gush of water.
“What is happening? Why is it raining over me?” He looked up, only to see what no one in their sane mind would believe. It was the statue. The Bard was weeping.
“Are you crying?” The sparrow enquired in awe. “Why are you crying?”
“I am crying at what has befallen the city.” The statue spoke in a grave low voice.
“Oh the rain? Well that’s not new, and it will all be fine by morning, don’t you worry.” The sparrow tried to calm him.
“How I wish it would all be fine by the morning. But the truth is things will never be as they were. There was a time this land was known to be the most fertile of all, people were happy, smiling, with whatever they had. But look at them today, it’s like a long wait to dooms day. And I have to be witness to the destruction of my city and my people!”
“What are you talking about? Everyone is fine, please just calm down. What destruction?” Asked the sparrow.
“It’s the immorality that’s bubbling in people’s hearts that will kill them. Do you know Raghu? That guy who sleeps under that bridge over there with his family? One day his son was ill, I heard his wife cry, praying to God for some money so that they could take him to a doctor. I couldn’t see it. The next night when Raghu crossed me on his way back home, I deliberately threw my medal at him. The ruby in it is worth a lot, I thought it should be enough for his son’s treatment. He stooped down, grabbed it and went home. I was happy that I could help someone. The next night, I saw Raghu return, drunk out of his wits, he could barely walk straight up to his home. His son still suffered. I didn’t understand, wasn’t the medal of any value? Why couldn’t he sell it and take his son to the doctor? It wasn’t until a few days that I understood what had transpired. He did sell my medal but chose to spend it on a night’s cheap booze and not for his son. His son passed away this morning, without having received proper treatment and all for this man’s dishonestly!” Narrated The Bard.
“It is sad indeed, and I can see why you feel so bad. You tried your best, but sometimes god has other plans.” The sparrow tried to reason.
“What about my eyes then? One night, two thieves stole the sapphires and perhaps by now have sold it off for quick money. Was this part of god’s plan? Did he want me to be stripped off my glory in front of the very people I loved so much?” The Bard grieved.
“Well you’re being unreasonable. A few bad apples don’t define the entire crop. This city and its people love you, they read your books, sing your songs. The city lights up on your birthday, everyone dressed in their best come out in the streets in remembrance. And I’m sure, this time when they come to celebrate their birthday and see that your statue is damaged, they will surely mend it. They love you, don’t you see that?” The sparrow asked.
“Perhaps its better that I don’t. You’re right, they will mend my statue. I will have sapphires plunged in my eye-hole and a new ruby encrusted medal. I will look all new. They will sing my songs, read my books and remember me on my birthday. But is it enough to just praise me when they don’t really love me or follow my principles? Are my poems made of random words with no spirit to hold it together? The garlands they will bring for me tomorrow are of no use. When they follow my principles, they love me. But when they don’t, do I really need to be here?” said the Bard.
“Do you need to be here?” The sparrow repeated rhetorically. “Well, you don’t, but where can you go? Your people will not let go of you no matter how hard you try. If you tear up your books, they will make copies of it. Wipe out your melodies and they would still find a way of rehashing and recording it for generations to come. Is their love stifling for you? Well, you should have thought of it when you had the time. Today, you cannot escape it. It’s not that simple.” The sparrow said as a matter-of-fact.
The showers had lessened by now and it was almost dawn. The little sparrow flew off towards its nest—he didn’t need shelter anymore—leaving the Bard in his own thoughts.
The next morning, the sun shone bright over the city, the clouds had cleared and the rains had stopped. It was as if the city came alive, rejuvenated after the showers. Everything was exactly how it should be, perhaps even better, except that the statue of the Bard was destroyed, broken into tiny pieces.
“It must have been due to last night’s storm,” said someone from the crowd that had gathered around the debris.
“What a waste, and that too on his birthday,” said another.
“Why don’t we get a new statue made?” suggested a third.
“Oh! A wise suggestion. We should make it bigger, grander, more expensive. Perhaps we could make the whole thing out of gold and diamonds this time,” said a fourth.
In no time the statue was replaced. It was bigger, grander and more expensive, however, it lacked life. But then, that didn’t stop the merrymaking, the singing and reciting, the garlands.