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Comedy in A mynah

Published:Saturday | April 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

Today I left the village post office and a really muddy, scrawny chicken shot across the road, narrowly escaping being dinner, and then returned almost faster when it ran into a cat. Why did he do that? Because he was a dirty-double crosser, that's why. That is also the reason for calling a missing parrot a polygon, and explaining that the turkey didn't finish his dinner because he was already stuffed.

However, in the avian world, and in the annals of ornithology, that double-crossing chicken is not unique. Many years ago, the Trinidad calypsonian, Lord Christo (Christopher Laidlow), sang about a parrot named Lorito who, aided by a young mute, warned him that his wife was having an affair. Every time the lady's boyfriend, Rouse, visited the house, the mute would point at the back door, and the parrot would say to Christo, "Walla, walla, bing, bang, today!" Eventually, both the boyfriend and the parrot disappeared in a stew.

A few years ago, a Chinese man from Chongqing city who ignored the bird in hand and sought solace outside the matrimonial home discovered that he had been sold out by his feathered friend, a mynah bird, which seemed to have become a stool pigeon. Mynah birds, from the starling family (in South East Asia), are known for their ability to talk. They are very expensive.

The man's wife, already in a stew and her feathers thoroughly ruffled because of her suspicions of her husband's infidelity, is now seeking a divorce because of the bird. The woman heard the mynah bird saying words like 'divorce', 'I love you', and 'be patient' after it overheard telephone calls between her husband and his mistress. She realised that the bird became very talkative any time the phone rang.

Bird on the stand?

According to a newspaper report, the woman "brought the bird to a law office for consultation, hoping it could testify in court". In China, there is no equivalent of the American charge of contributing to the delinquency of a mynah. However, the question in this case is whether a Chinese mynah can give evidence in a matrimonial matter? Maybe in the case of a voyeuristic Peking duck.

One old lady may have a solution to the husband's dilemma. Her son, Myron, knowing the old woman was hard to please, finally came up with a truly inspired birthday present, a gorgeous mynah bird that spoke six languages. He paid an extremely high price and arranged to have the bird delivered to his mother in an antique cage. The evening he came by for his mother's birthday dinner. "So, Mom," he asked, "did you get my present today?" "Yes, Myron," she replied. "I did. I must say it's cooked up very nicely."

Myron gasped. "Don't tell me you cooked it!" he screamed. "Mom, that bird cost me $5,000. It spoke English, Portugese, Mandarin, Urdu, Arabic and Russian."

"Now, Myron," the old woman chided. "If it really spoke all those languages, why didn't it say something?"

One of the mysteries of the universe, apart from how pigeons know that you've just polished your car, is what causes mynah birds to be such good singers. A millionaire went into an upscale Beverly Hills pet shop to buy a mynah bird. He demanded the best, saying, "I want a bird that sings like Sinatra, with the range of an opera star, and with the tone of Pavarotti." The clerk said, "That will cost you $5,000." The millionaire replied, "If it does what I want, I don't care about the price."

The clerk then pointed out, "You'll also have to buy this other bird for $10,000?" "Why the second bird?" asked the puzzled man. The clerk said matter-of-factly, "He's the arranger."

Difficult questions

Apart from arranging, birds are credited with considerable skills and a wide range of behaviours that prompt some very difficult questions. For instance, owls are said to be smarter than chickens solely on the evidence that there is no fast-food chain called, 'Kentucky Fried Owls'. However, what do you do with an owl with no wings?

There was the canary who didn't want to pay for his date's dinner because he was too 'cheep'. And the duck who walked into a drug store and asked for a tube of lipstick. When the cashier said, "That will be $1.50," the duck replied. "Just put it on my bill." There is the matter of ascertaining the difference between a mynah bird with one wing and one with two wings. It is a difference of a pinion.

This is what David had with an expensive mynah bird he got for his birthday. The bird had a bad attitude and even worse vocabulary. Every other word was an obscenity. David tried very hard to change the bird's behaviour, but the bird refused to cooperate. David tried very polite language and tried to set a good example, but the mynah was obdurate.

Finally, David lost his temper, shook the bird and then shut it in the freezer. From outside he could hear the bird swearing, kicking, shrieking and squawking. Then everything went quiet. David was scared that he might have hurt the expensive mynah bird. He opened the freezer door and the bird calmly walked out and said, "I am extremely sorry that I might have offended you or caused you discomfort with my language and choice of expressions. I humbly ask your forgiveness. Give me one more chance and I will correct my behaviour."

David was amazed at the great change that had occurred in the mynah and was about to ask the bird what had caused it when the mynah continued, "May I ask what the chicken did?"

Tony Deyal was last seen telling the story of a woodpecker who, while on holidays, was pecking at a tree when lightning struck and split the tree in two. The bird said, "It is a strange phenomenon that a person does not know how hard his pecker is until he gets away from home."