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. Then, he had found a dried piece of mackerel’s tail at the far end of his ledge. Now, there was not a single scrap of food left. He had searched every inch, rooting among the rough, dirt-caked straw nest where he and his brothers and sister had been hatched. He even gnawed at the dried pieces of eggshell. It was like eating a part of himself.
He then trotted back and forth from one end of the ledge to the other, his long gray legs stepping daintily, trying to find some means of reaching his parents without having to fly. But on each side of him, the ledge ended in a sheer fall of precipice, with the sea beneath. And between him and his parents, there was a deep, wide crack.
Surely he could reach them without flying if he could only move northwards along the cliff face? But then, on what could he walk? There was no ledge, and he was not a fly. And above him, he could see nothing. The precipice was sheer, and the top of it was, perhaps, farther away than the sea beneath him.
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 the 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 flies. The heat therefore gets intense and it feels the sun on the body.
The seagull only had a small tail piece of a mackerel, which is a fish found in the coastal areas. The fish was dried because it was not caught fresh from the sea. It had to adjust with the dried already existing piece of fish as it was not able to fly and catch its own food. 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. At last, it desperately had to search in its own nest where its brothers and sister, along with the seagull, had been hatched. The nest is only a temporary home for the birds as they hatch and fly in their own directions, fending for themselves. But the seagull is faced with a situation where it had to gnaw at the broken pieces of the egg that it came out from in search of food. It says that it felt like eating a part of the self, as the egg was the protective cover that kept the bird safe until it was hatched.
Seagull beside the hatched egg
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 is occupied in thinking of how to cross to the other side of the ledge to its parents. The ledge had a deep crack and it had to fly to reach. It was on the very steep side of the ledge that if tried walking, it would fall down into the sea. Even if it were to walk along the northern side of the cliff, which was nothing but empty space. It had nothing to walk on like a bridge. Only a housefly could travel across such small gaps. Below and above the cliff were very deep, and it was scared of falling.
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|
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.