Even when each of his brothers and his little sister, whose wings were far shorter than his own, ran to the brink, flapped their wings, and flew away, he failed to muster up courage to take that plunge which appeared to him so desperate. His father and mother had come around calling to him shrilly, scolding him, threatening to let him starve on his ledge, unless he flew away. But for the life of him, he could not move.
That was twenty-four hours ago. Since then, nobody had come near him. The day before, all day long, he had watched his parents flying about with his brothers and sister, perfecting them in the art of flight, teaching them how to skim the waves and how to dive for fish. He had, in fact, seen his older brother catch his first herring and devour it, standing on a rock, while his parents circled around raising a proud cackle. And all the morning, the whole family had walked about on the big plateau midway down the opposite cliff, laughing at his cowardice.
The young seagull is scared to jump from the ledge and start exploring the world. Its brother and even its sister, who was younger than it, had taken the courage to jump and fly away. Its little sister had very shorter wings compared to the seagull but still ran to the brink of the ledge, flapped its wings and flew away. The reason why the birds are made to run and jump from the cliff is that when one is in the process of running, one does not think. It is done based on instinct. But the seagull had the outcomes and possibility of falling run at the back of its mind and therefore was not able to take the risk. It also shows that different people fear different things, and age does not impact it. Sometimes we are scared of things but feel guilty and desperate about not taking the plunge. It is this guilt that is even more tormenting than not taking action.
The seagull's siblings fly
The seagull, who is already feeling bad for not keeping up with its siblings, is now scolded and yelled at by its parents. Parents often have expectations on their kids and want them to perform well in life. Sometimes they exert tough love. When one believes that they are on the verge of being left out and that they are on their own, there is a huge chance that they put in their maximum efforts to come out of it and resonate with a group. Similarly, the seagull's parents threaten that they would leave it and make it starve on the ledge and will not help. Now that it is left to fend for itself, the parents think that it is necessary to show some tough love. But it was not willing to give in, even if it meant earning the wrath of the parents. A day had passed with 24 hours passing by, and no one had still come near the seagull.
The little seagull feels left out from his family as he is the only one who has not flown in the entire family. Oftentimes, disappointing our parents is the most hurtful thing. It makes us feel like a failure, especially if we tend to have siblings who have excelled. The seagull stands on the ledge, watching its parents flying around with its siblings and having fun. The parents were guiding the siblings and perfecting their flight, giving insights. Seagulls consume fish as their main source of food, so the parents taught them how to swoop down and dive for fish. The little seagull also sees one of the brothers catching a herring, which are fish found in coastal areas. This being an achievement indeed, receives praise from the parents. They circled around the brother, cackling, indicating their pride. His entire family made the little seagull feel insecure by laughing at him and excluding them from their party, calling him a coward for not flying.
Seagull catching fish
Meaning of difficult words:
|Muster||Collect or gather|
|Plunge||Jump or dive quickly|
|Shrill||High pitch noise|
|Threaten||To cause to be at risk|
|Skim||Quickly dive into something|
|Herring||A fish that is found in coastal areas|
|Cackle||Laugh in a loud way|
|Plateau||Fairly level high ground|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. The First Flight - Liam O'Flaherty (pp. 32-36). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.