YASHWANT VAID STOOD ANXIOUSLY beside Vinod Kumar, as the latter deftly parted the beaks of a pigeon, which shrank from his touch. Kumar poured several drops of an orange liquid down the bird’s throat and asked Vaid, “Where did you buy it from?”
“In front of Jama Masjid,” Vaid, a primary school teacher, replied timidly.
Vaid had bought a pair of pigeons as pets for Rs 300 from a pigeon seller outside the mosque; he later discovered that one of them, with striking black, grey and white feathers, had a paralysed neck. Vaid brought the pigeon to Charity Birds Hospital in the premises of the Digambar Jain temple in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. He had intended to leave the bird there, but Kumar, a veterinary compounder at the hospital, admonished him, and told him to take it home. “If it were your child,” Kumar said, “could you have deserted it like this, at a time when it needs you the most?”