“Ga, ga, ga,” he cried, begging her to bring him over some food. “Gawl-col-ah,” she screamed back mockingly. But he kept calling plaintively, and after a minute or so, he uttered a joyful scream. His mother had picked up a piece of fish and was flying across to him with it. He leaned out eagerly, tapping the rock with his feet, trying to get nearer to her as she flew across. But when she was just opposite to him, abreast of the ledge, she halted, her legs hanging limp, her wings motionless, the piece of fish in her beak almost within reach of his beak. He waited a moment in surprise, wondering why she did not come nearer, and then maddened by hunger, he dived at the fish. With a loud scream, he fell outwards and downwards into space. Then a monstrous terror seized him and his heart stood still. He could hear nothing. But it only lasted a moment. The next moment, he felt his wings spread outwards. The wind rushed against his breast feathers, then under his stomach and against his wings. He could feel the tips of his wings cutting through the air. He was not falling headlong now. He was soaring gradually, downwards and outwards. He was no longer afraid. He just felt a bit dizzy. Then, he flapped his wings once and he soared upwards. ‘Ga, ga, ga. Ga, ga, ga.’ ‘Gawlool- ah.’ His mother swooped past him, her wings making a loud noise. He answered her with another scream. Then, his father flew over him screaming. Then, he saw his two brothers and sister flying around him, curveting and banking and soaring and diving.
The seagull was desperate to get some food but was not ready to fly and reach the family at the other end. It knew that it had to gather attention from the family members in order to get food. Any family would give up on toughness if they sense that one of them is in trouble or on the verge of getting themselves into a difficult situation. So the seagull slowly walked to the edge of the cliff and made sure that its family could see what it was up to. It folded one of its legs and hid it under the wings so as to gain balance in standing. It then made it appear that it was falling asleep while standing on the edge and that there was a chance of falling. But unfortunately, its family did not take any notice of the seagull.
Seagull pecking at scrap of fish
The seagull tried to draw attention by uttering a cackle. The mother bird responded and cackled back, leading him to think that she had sympathised with it. It took the opportunity to communicate with the mother and cried ga ga ga, which refers to the sound a seagull would make. It cried to beg and ask the mother to bring some food as it was starving. But the mother bird retained the composure and cried back, ‘Gawl-ool-ah,’in a mocking way. But the seagull was very persistent and kept on crying for food to trigger her motherly instincts. After a while, the mother moved her place, and this overjoyed the seagull as this meant she had taken a soft corner and was about to bring food. The mother bird had taken a small piece of fish and was flying towards the seagull, which made it utter a joyful scream. It leaned out eagerly and was restless for food, tapping the rock with the feet to inch closer. But the mother bird, as soon as she reached the hedge, her wings did not flutter or legs did not move. She just stood there holding the fish, almost within reach of the seagull but at the same time a little away.
Mother gull with chicks
The seagull's mother had come near it with a piece of fish in her mouth to tempt it. Initially, it was overjoyed to see that after a day of starvation, the mother had finally come down with food. But when it realised that the food was only at its mouth's reach and not put the right front of it like always, it became angry. But it was very hungry, and people become maddened when they are hungry. The seagull was so lured by the food that it jumped to catch hold of the fish. Generally, one tends to go down and put in any effort if that is the only last resort. They do not use logic and planning but rather would delve into it quickly. The seagull was only focused on the food that is, for a moment, he forgot the circumstances and fear. The mother bird purposefully used the fish as the bait, and therefore when the seagull tries to reach the food, it falls outwards and downwards into the space. Exactly when it reached out, the mother bird had swooped upwards, making the seagull fall and could hear the swish of the wings as it was falling. By the time the seagull realised what was happening, a monstrous terror shook it, and for a moment, it could not hear its heartbeat, meaning that fear overtook its entire body. As it was falling from an altitude, the wind brushed fiercely into its breast feathers and felt the tip of the wings cutting through because of the intensity of the wind. But it soon realised that it was flying in the process. It was soaring upwards and downwards.
Meaning of difficult words:
|Plateau||A fairly level high ground|
|Scraping||Drag or pull hard, to remove dirt|
|Cackle||Speak in a loud harsh way|
|Dozing||To fall asleep|
|Plaintively||Expressing sorrow or melancholy|
|Tapping||Move or strike to make noise|
|Motionless||To stay without movement|
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.