The sun was now ascending the sky, blazing warmly on his ledge that faced the south. He felt the heat because he had not eaten since the previous nightfall.
He stepped slowly out to the brink of the ledge, and, standing on one leg with the other leg hidden under his wing, he closed one eye, then the other, and pretended to be falling asleep. Still, they took no notice of him. He saw his two brothers and his sister lying on the plateau dozing, with their heads sunk into their necks. His father was preening the feathers on his white back. Only his mother was looking at him. She was standing on a little high hump on the plateau, her white breast thrust forward. Now and again, she tore at a piece of fish that lay at her feet, and then scraped each side of her beak on the rock. The sight of the food maddened him. How he loved to tear food that way, scraping his beak now and again to whet it.
The little seagull was very guilty about disappointing its parents. It also felt bad that it was not able to fly like its siblings and was the only one to have not flown in the family. It felt left out completely. A day had passed, and it still stayed in the hole at the end of the ledge. It did not come out due to embarrassment. But the sun was shining brightly, the next morning, and it was blazing on top of the ledge that was facing the south side. When one does not eat or is starving, they notice minute sensations, and the littlest of things can irritate them. The seagull had not eaten anything the day before, owing to the fact that it had disappointed its parents, and they refused to feed him until he flew. The heat, therefore, gets intense and feels like the sun on the body.
Its two brothers and sisters had already proven their skill of flying and now take a rest, dozing on the plateau. They did not take any notice of their sibling, who had not even started with it. They were sleeping with their heads stuck to their neck, showing lethargy and resting well. The seagull's father was preening its feathers, such that it was cleaning itself with the beak. Birds generally preen when they have nothing else to do after having food and are in their resting phase. But the mother was looking at the seagull from a distance.
She was standing on top of the hump of a plateau and was observing her child, with her white breast thrust forward, showing that she was holding herself up pretty well. She was cleaning and pecking at a piece of fish with her beak and scraped her break every time into a nearby rock to give it more intensity to tear at the fish. The seagull, who was so hungry, was maddened at the sight of the food right in front of it and was not able to reach it. It wanted to desperately tear at the fish and eat and sharpen its beak every time in rock, just like the mother gull.
There was no scrap of food left for it to eat, and there was nobody to help with catching fish. It searched all over the ledge for some food. He searched the dirt and rough patches of the cliff. Finding no way to get food, the seagull had to walk to and fro the ledge, thinking of a solution. It had so far been cared for by its parents, and it felt new to be by itself. Like every other child, the seagull turns towards its parents for food and comfort. It strode with its long grey feet delicately and cautiously as its mind was occupied in thinking of how to cross to the other side of the ledge to its parents.
Seagull looking down the cliff
Meaning of difficult words:
|Ascending||To come up|
|Blazing||To burn with bright flames|
|Mackerel||A sea fish with greenish-blue bands on its body|
|Scrap||A small piece of something|
|Dirt-caked||Covered with a thick layer of dirt|
|Gnawed||To bite hard with teeth|
|Trotted||To take quick short steps|
|Daintily||Fine or delicate manners|
|Precipice||The steep edge of a mountain|
|Sheer||Used to emphasize the size|
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.