We awakened slowly in the dark, to the loud, lonely song of fast trills and sharp whistles before the morning rays slanted through the windows, cutting across the floorboards.

Hanging on a hook from the ceiling was the neat wire and wood cage housing the prized lone, little black bird, with gleaming feathers and the distinctive inflated dark brown chest, owned by our father. He was an avid songbird enthusiast like ongoing obsessed generations of Guyanese men, caring for the chirping champion chestnut-bellied lesser seed finch or territorial “towa towa” perhaps a misnomer of legendary skills to “tower, tower” over lower beings.

On searing days, we would give the beautiful bird a gentle spray as it flitted from perch to perch. Attached to a corner of the enclosure, was our only piece of Japanese bone china, mysteriously acquired by Dad. A tiny, delicate cup coloured dark blue and bearing a flying dragon chasing the flaming sun or pearl, it would be held up to the light for scrutiny, to ensure the transparence was free of any dirt before we carefully filled it up with water. We would replenish  the seed box, clean the pull-out tray and hang up the calcium-rich cuttlefish bone. At weekends, my brothers would search along the swollen trenches for the fat fronds of fresh grass seeds favoured by the creature in its natural habitat. Moulting was a precarious period when the cage had to be covered with a thick, black cloth…..

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