The Parrots Training ( Retold )
n short bursts of poignant irony, this tale, adapted by Manish Jain from an exquisite short story by Rabindranath Tagore, brings us face to face with charged edges and excluded yearnings for different visions of what it means to learn today. In ‘The Parrot's Training’, Tagore tells the story of – you guessed it! – a parrot, whose chirpy, flighty unsophistication inspires a benevolent king to educate ‘her’ (I use ‘her’ as a pronoun for the parrot to foreground its feminine subservience to the masculine dominion of the king).
With every effort by the Raja's pundits and experts to keep her under, to stabilize her feathery wildness into tame passivity, to ‘improve’ her, to convert her to the excellent ‘principles of Education’, and make her amenable to the courts, the parrot shines as a stark figure of the ‘inappropriate other’ and of the ‘promising monstrous’ – even when her caged soul-feathers wither up, and she dies.
At the end of the story, Tagore beautifully highlights the tragedy of form without spirit, when he writes: “The bird was brought to him, guarded by the kotwal and the sepoys and the sowars. The Raja poked its body with his finger. Only its inner stuffing of book-leaves rustled”
“The modern factory-schooling education system is one of the greatest crimes against humanity. One hundred years from now, we will look back at the violence of schools and ask how we could have done this to innocent children”
- Manish Jain