High above the earth on its giant lattice towers, the power line strode across the flat and unchanging countryside until it dis-appeared. One of the great pylons was near his father's hut in a square patch fenced off with barbed wire. Warning plates in red paint said in two languages. 'Danger!' And there was a huge figure of volts, thousands of volts. Hira Lal was eleven and he knew volts were electricity and the line took power far across the country.
Hira Lal filled the empty spaces in his life by imagining things and the power line took his thoughts away into a magical distance, far off among tall buildings and bustling towns. That was where the world opened up. Hira Lal loved the power line dearly. It made a door through the distance for high thoughts.
On clear evenings when the sparrows gathered he would see the wires like necklaces of glass beads. He loved to hear the birds making excited twittering sounds; he loved to see how they fell off the aluminium wire into space. The birds could fly anywhere they wanted and they opened another door for him. He liked them too, very much.
He watched the sparrows one morning taking off and occasionally coming back on the power lines. One of the sparrows, however got entrapped, hanging there flapping its wings. Hira Lal it was caught by its leg. He wondered how it could have got caught, may be in the wire binding or at a joint. He wanted to rush and tell his mother, but she would scold him for being late for school. So he climbed on his bicycle and rode off to school.
Coming back from school he felt anxious but did not look up until he was quite near. The sparrow was still there, its wings spread but not moving. It was dead, he guessed. Then he saw it flutter and fold its wings. He felt awful to think it had hung there all day. The boy went in and called his mother and they stood below the power line and looked at the bird. The mother shaded her eyes with her hand. It is a pity, she said, but she was sure it would free itself.
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