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! He uttered a low cackle. His mother cackled too, and looked at him.
‘Ga, ga, ga,’ he cried, begging her to bring him over some food. ‘Gawl-ool-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.
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 the 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 standing on edge and that there was a chance of falling. But unfortunately, its family did not take any notice of the seagull.
Its two brothers and sisters had already proven their skill of flying and now take rest dozing in 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 lethargic 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 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.
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
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|
State Council of Educational Research and Training 2019. Term 1 English Standard - 10. His First Flight - Liam O'Flaherty (pp. 2 -16). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.