What would you choose if you could have any animal follow you around? Something cute and sweet to pet and keep you company? Or perhaps, a vicious creature, like a dragon, to fend off others and protect you? Well, Mr Maniam has been at ISKL for 43 long years, and never has he ever experienced being the special someone to a bird. Working as the Manager of Government Relations, he has a desk job at the front office, within the Middle School region. It has come to the attention of certain individuals, that a particular bird follows him around, and has, ever since last summer. Strange as it is, The Bird – named Devi – never flies, instead walking Mr Maniam from his car to his office, daily. Though not exactly fierce and fire-breathing, Devi has loyalty.
It all started when Mr Maniam started feeding the fish behind his designated car parking area. “When I go there the fish will come, so I will feed the fish,” he says simply. The Bird, attracted to the sound of the fish energetically eating, would come and sit on the railing watching him. “I gave some of the fish pellets to The Bird,” he stated, recalling the very beginning of their friendship. Alternating from day to day, The Bird came. Sometimes, motivated by hunger, the bird would already be waiting for him at the back of the car.
Then, little Devi started to follow him.
“It only follows me from the car park to the office area,” Mr Maniam explains. She doesn’t follow him everywhere, just walks him to his workspace every day. Then she will patiently wait for him to return from inside with her breakfast.
Upgrading from the fish pellets, Mr Maniam started bringing fruits to school. He would give her papaya’s to eat, and she would eat them happily. “Then I tried to get the actual food,” Mr Maniam reports, displaying a bowl of wriggling white worms and explaining her daily consumption. “See the small worms? It’s the protein for her.”
Comfortable with each other, the bird is not afraid and will approach Mr Maniam, and his friends, rather boldly. When feeding her by the chairs, she will come right up to his legs. You have most definitely seen the many Mayan birds flying around the school: the brown-black, tiny creatures with yellow beaks. We know how they scatter and take flight whilst we approach. The fact that Devi doesn’t have any fear towards Mr Maniam and his friends is a display of their powerful relationship.
Often, she would just stand outside the office doors, while his office friends cheerfully informed him of her presence. Another time, during a office birthday celebration, Devi was waiting outside. His friends noticed and called to him to let him know his friend was waiting. “About six of them came out and she never flew. She was just waiting.” He said proudly, with a hint of wonder.
Once, during the evening, Mr Maniam attempted to urge Devi into the office. “She will put the neck inside,” Mr Maniam said mimicking her, turning his head from side to side and retracting it, showing how Devi never actually entered the work space.
One day, when he was going on his way home, the little bird stopped him. “She flew and came right near the car, stopping me!” he exclaimed. The bold little bird followed him as he got out of the car and walked to the guardhouse, where he asked for some fish food for Devi to consume.
When the school was closed, she would come by for her meals around three times a day. Now she comes once a day in the mornings. “You see, when the school is open, she gets food from many places,” he says, not the least bit sorrowful at her absence, knowing she can take care of herself. Mr Maniam’s future plans are to, eventually, train Devi to eat from his hand while perched on his upper arm.