If there was one thing he wanted more than anything else was to fly. He wanted to soar like the other birds, particularly the eagles. He saw them glide seemingly effortlessly over the blue sky. Overtime, his desire to fly became a nagging obsession. He spent all his time looking above at the sky.
Being a peacock, he could fly but only for short distances. He could fly from the ground to one of the branches in the tree. But he could never fly over long distances like how the other birds did.
There lived a wild cat in the forest. He was a wily and devious creature. His crafty reputation was known throughout the forest. The animals of the forest avoided him. But Pushpak, the peacock was ignorant of this. He rarely spoke to the others in the forest and most kept to himself.
The cat had always had an eye on Pushpak. He had heard from some of his friends that the flesh of a peacock was particularly tasty. He stealthily approached the innocent bird. Pushpak was alarmed on seeing the cat and flew up to the nearest branch at a safe height from the cat.
The cat put on a saintly look. “Do not fear, friend”, he said, “I am old and weary. I have lost all interest in this life. I intend to spend the reminder of my days in prayer and penance”. Pushpak was surprised to hear these words from the cat.
The clever cat had anticipated this. His face displayed perfect calm and a fake serenity. He talked kindly to the peacock for a while and went away. The next day, he came again to the peacock and carried on the same friendly conversation. This continued for a few days.
Slowly, the cat managed to gain the trust of the peacock. The peacock lost his fear of the cat. He came down to the lower branches. Sometimes, he would even come down. However, he still maintained a safe distance.
Overtime, the peacock developed an acquaintance with the cat. They would share their own personal stories. One day, while talking, the peacock told the cat about his desire to fly. “I am only able to fly short distances”, he complained, “the other birds can fly many miles in a single stretch.” The cat sensed an opportunity he had been waiting for. He was extremely happy.
“Your problem is your long feathers. That is what is keeping you from flying.”, He said. Pushpak was surprised to hear this. “How can this be”, he said.”I fly only with my feathers.” The cat replied,”That is true. But you are only able to fly for short distances. The other birds do not have such long feathers and are able to fly long distances”.
The naive peacock felt that the argument was logical. The cat was happy that his plan was working. “What should I do now?,” the peacock said. The cunning cat said, “Pluck away all your feathers. They are not necessary for you.” Foolish Pushpak believed every word of what he said. He coud have asked for the opinion of some other animal. But he was so obsessed with the idea of being able to fly like the other birds that he did not question the cat’s wicked idea.
Over the next couple of days, the peacock sat in the branch of the tree where he always perched. He plucked his feathers one by one with his beak. It was a painful process. But the peacock felt that they were needless attachments to his body which kept him on the ground.
As he removed the last of his long feathers, he felt light. This was encouraging. The cat, on his part, was happy to see what was going on. His plans were bearing fruit.
The next morning, the peacock tried to flap his wings to fly. But he could not take off. The cat said, “Jump off the branch. You will be able to fly”, he said with a smile. The poor bird believed the cat and threw himself off the branch. He did not take off. Instead, he fell right to the ground near the cat.
The cat was happy to see such a good breakfast dropping from the sky. He pounced on Pushpak and killed him.
Children, this story teaches us to be content with what we have. Everyone has their strengths. We need to focus on that instead of comparing ourselves with others. It also teaches us not to trust in anyone blindly.